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.
This panoramic view was probably taken from the roof of Xavier College. It invites the viewer to look down on the buildings and streets of Kew, and across to the distant horizon. Mansions and solid bourgeois villas dominate the view of Charles and Wellington Streets. The imposing spires of the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches, built in one of the highest areas of Kew, can be seen in the distance. In the foreground, the photographer includes three significant mansions: Molina, Roxeth and Elsinore. Molina, in the foreground, and the group of weatherboard buildings in its yard was used at this stage for the privately operated ‘Kew High School’ (founded 1872). Roxeth, the home of Herbert Henty can be identified by its distinctive four-sided tower. All three buildings are now part of Trinity Grammar. Other built structures observable in the photograph include Wilton (now the Kew RSL), designed by Guyon Purchas for Dr William Walsh in 1886, and the only known image of the Prospect Hill Hotel prior to the renovation of 1935.
Inscriptions & markings
Bird's Eye View Looking North