At the beginning of the 1890s, the Kew businessman and Town Councillor, Henry Kellett, commissioned J.F.C. Farquhar to photograph scenes of Kew. These scenes included panoramas as well as pastoral scenes. The resulting set of twelve photographs was assembled in an album, Kew Where We Live, from which customers could select images for purchase.The preamble to the album describes that the photographs used the ‘argentic bromide’ process, now more commonly known as the gelatine silver process. This form of dry plate photography allowed for the negatives to be kept for weeks before processing, hence its value in landscape photography. The resulting images were considered to be finely grained and everlasting. Evidence of the success of Henry Kellett’s venture can be seen today, in that some of the photographs are held in national collections.
It is believed that the Kew Historical Society’s copy of the Kellett album is unique and that the photographs in the book were the first copies taken from the original plates. It is the first and most important series of images produced about Kew. The individual images have proved essential in identifying buildings and places of heritage value in the district.
In 1891, High Street was the centre of commercial activity in the Borough of Kew. It was unpaved and edged with deep bluestone gutters, which were designed to channel the significant flow of storm water down the hill to and beyond the Junction. On either side of the entrance to the shopping strip are two cast iron gas lamps that provided the only public street lighting before the Post Office was reached. Most shops, including the Nicholas Brothers’ Junction Store featured cast iron verandas. Further up the hill, Dougherty’s Greyhound Hotel was by this stage a local institution. Apart from the horse-drawn tram, the main form of personal and commercial transport in this period remained the horse, horse and cart, or buggy.The panoramic view predates the widening of High Street in the 20th century, and thus includes the original alignment of buildings on the south side. These included Henry Kellett’s shop.
Inscriptions & markings
High Street, Kew