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.


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

Digital copy of an original MMBW plan. This contour plan shows the area identified by the MMBW for purposes of drainage and sewerage in 1894. The suburbs represented extend from Williamstown in the west to Bulleen in the east, and from Preston in the north, south to Sandringham. Suburbs are outlined in coloured ink. Red lines indicate main and branch sewers in existence at the beginning of 1894 in central and inner Melbourne. These extended as far as Williamstown and Brighton, but not yet as far as Kew, where sewering did not commence until 1901. Contour lines show the topography, which was important for indicating the fall of the land for the laying of sewers and drainage channels. Kew appears to be fairly undeveloped at this date except for railway lines and stations (the Kew and Outer Circle lines), main roads, the Kew Lunatic Asylum Reserve and Studley Park. However, the contour plan does not accurately represent the density of settlement, nor the large number of houses, which were being built in Kew and other suburbs from the 1850s to the land boom of the late 1880’s and early 1890’s. This plan is part of a large and historically significant 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.