Historical information

As the Yarra became unsuitable as a source of water, several attempts were made to find alternative sources for the growing population of Melbourne. It was not until 1891 that the efforts to sewer Melbourne came to fruition with the setting up of the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW), now known as Melbourne Water. From 1891 until 1992, it was the responsibility of the MMBW to safeguard public health by providing a sewerage system and a safe water supply system. In 1992, The MMBW merged with a number of smaller urban water authorities to form Melbourne Water.

This item was used by MMBW employees as a measuring device to determine areas or figures on a plane surface having either straight or irregular boundaries.


The Compensating Polar Planimeter is of historical significance for its association with the former Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW). This measuring device is perfectly intact and a rare surviving object of standard Board issued equipment. The kit is significant for its representativeness of the theme of Technology in building Victoria's industries and workforce, which continues to resonate strongly within Melbourne Water today.

Physical description

The instrument is inside a black metal case with accessories including: Setting bar, screwdriver, Allen key and spare pole point. Inside is also the adjustable planimeter.