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).

This plan shows the original configuration of the Kew Post Office, Court House and Police Station, which had opened in 1888. This configuration was to essentially remain until the purchase of the Court House and Police Station by the City of Boroondara in 2007 and its subsequent renovation. Interestingly, the MMBW surveyors incorrectly labelled parts of the complex. In the triangle in front of the Post Office, before the erection of the Kew Cenotaph in 1925, was located a lawn and the Queen Victoria Jubilee Fountain. While many of the shops on the south side of High street had been constructed by 1903 a number of sites were still used as vegetable gardens. Further along High Street, on the corner of Charles Street, the Salvation Army Barracks can be seen on the plan. These Barracks predate the later Citadel and ‘Young People’s Hall’ that were opened in 1919. At 22 Charles Street can be seen the house of James Venn Morgan. Hailed as the ‘father of Kew’, Morgan arrived in Melbourne in 1840. He was first engaged as a bookmaker, but a fortunate venture on the goldfields enabled him to purchase land in Kew. He conducted a market garden and dairy in Kew for many years.