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.
Before true aerial photography became possible, photographers such as J.F.C. Farquhar were compelled to shoot their images from the highest vantage point. Here, it is presumed to be the roof of Xavier College, from which the panoramic view extends west towards the rise of Studley Park. The houses in the foreground face the southern end of Gellibrand Street. Wellington Street is at an angle to the camera with the Queen Street intersection on the near right. The wooden building behind the large horse paddock on the other side of Gellibrand Street is the Kew Recreation Hall, built 1888, demolished 1960. It was reputed to have one of the finest dancing floors in or around Melbourne. The Bowling Green at the rear of the Hall belonged to the Kew Bowling Club. Further west is the Kew Railway Station on Denmark Street, opened to the public in 1887. At this period, much of Studley Park was locked up in large landholdings, dominated by large mansions such as ‘Byram’.
Inscriptions & markings
Bird's Eye View Looking West