Historical information

The Kew Historical Society's map collection includes a substantial number of real estate subdivision plans, mainly of Kew but also of surrounding suburbs in Melbourne. Most of the subdivision plans date from the 1920s and 1930s when the districts old homes and local farmland were being split up to accommodate residential growth in the postwar period. These early plans were assembled by a local firm, Jas R Mather & McMillan, which had an office in Cotham Road. Many of the plans, and sometimes photos, were annotated by the agents. The ‘new’ Balwyn Picture Theatre was built and owned by Balwyn Theatres Pty Ltd in ca. 1928. By 1930, this first Balwyn Theatre was destroyed by fire after a break-in. Following the fire, a new cinema was constructed. This plan for a Cinema and eleven shops presumably dates from 1927/28 when the Company announced that this location in Whitehorse Road ‘was the most central and best suited [area] for their Theatre and shops’.


Subdivision plans are historically important documents used as evidence for the growth of suburbs in Australia. They frequently provide information about when the land was sold as well as evidence relating to surveyors and real estate and financial agents. The numerous subdivision plans in the Kew Historical Society's collection represent working documents, ranging from the initial sketches made in planning a subdivision to printed plans on which auctioneers or agents listed the prices for which individual lots were sold. In a number of cases, the reverse of a subdivision plan in the collection includes a photograph of a house that was also for sale by the agent. These photographs provide significant heritage information relating house design and decoration, fencing and household gardens.The photograph may also be aesthetically significant depending on the importance of the photographic atelier.

Physical description

Subdivision plan showing the Balwyn Theatre and its adjoining shop sites in Whitehorse Road Balwyn. The 11 shop sites were noted for their depth (133 ft - 145 ft. [Map.0041]