Historical information

The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) plans were produced from the 1890s to the 1950s. They were crucial to the design and development of Melbourne's sewerage and drainage system. The plans, at a scale of 40 feet to 1 inch (1:480), provide a detailed historical record of Melbourne streetscapes and environmental features. Each plan covers one or two street blocks (roughly six streets), showing details of buildings, including garden layouts and ownership boundaries, and features such as laneways, drains, bridges, parks, municipal boundaries and other prominent landmarks as they existed at the time each plan was produced. (Source: State Library of Victoria)


This plan forms part of a large group of MMBW plans and maps that was donated to the Society by the Mr Poulter, City Engineer of the City of Kew in 1989. Within this collection, thirty-five hand-coloured plans, backed with linen, are of statewide significance as they include annotations that provide details of construction materials used in buildings in the first decade of the 20th century as well as additional information about land ownership and usage. The copies in the Public Record Office Victoria and the State Library of Victoria are monochrome versions which do not denote building materials so that the maps in this collection are invaluable and unique tools for researchers and heritage consultants. A number of the plans are not held in the collection of the State Library of Victoria so they have the additional attribute of rarity.

Physical description

Original survey plan, issued by the MMBW to a contractor with responsibility for constructing sewers in the area identified on the plan within the Borough of Kew. The plan was at some stage hand-coloured, possibly by the contractor, but more likely by officers working in the Engineering Department of the Borough and later Town, then City of Kew. The hand-coloured sections of buildings on the plan were used to denote masonry or brick constructions (pink), weatherboard constructions (yellow), and public buildings (grey). Development in the 20th century has irreparably altered that part of Kew represented in this plan. In the block bounded by Cotham Road, Charles Street, Wellington Street and Gellibrand; just one house standing in 1903 remains. This block included two of the most historic houses in Kew: ‘Ordsall’ (later ‘Southesk’) and ‘Madford’ (previously ‘Elm Lodge’). Ordsall was the home of the second chairman of Kew, John Halfey. It contained some of the most significant interior murals in Kew, created for Halfey by artists working for Cullen & Co. It was demolished in 1960 to make way for the Kew Civic Centre. Elm Lodge had been built for William Siddeley in ca. 1864. Arthur Septimus King purchased it in 1874. The lower paddocks of Madford were sold in 1905 by his wife to the Borough of Kew and, after landscaping by George and Thomas Pockett, opened as the Alexandra Gardens in 1908. Elm Lodge/Madford was in 1922 to become St. Anthony’s Home for Little Children before its subsequent demolition in the 1980s.