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.
Very few of the natural or built features in this panoramic photograph of Wellington Street remain. The open land between High Street South and Denmark Street, then known as O’Shannessy’s Paddock, was to become a residential subdivision at the beginning of the 20th Century. On the far side of Denmark Street, bordered by a picket fence, is the Kew Railway Station (demolished 1957). Further east, the large building with the flagpole is the Kew Recreation Hall (demolished 1960), which was the centre of civic life for almost a century. The building was used for dances, civic functions and exhibitions. A bowling green, tennis courts, and a cricket ground surrounded the Hall. The dominant building in the photograph is Xavier College, founded in 1872 by the Society of Jesus. The first classes for pupils were held in 1878. It is presumed that Farquhar used its roof for two of his bird’s eye views.
Inscriptions & markings
Wellington Street from High Street