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.
Dight’s Falls in Studley Park is an artificial weir built on a natural rock bar across the Yarra. The weir was built in the 1840s to provide water to the ‘Ceres’ flour mill, one of the earliest industrial sites in Melbourne. The falls were later to be named after the owner of this mill. In 1888, William Guilfoyle, Director of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens had called for fresh water to be piped from above the weir to the Botanical Gardens, using a pumping station on the Kew side of the Falls, a holding reservoir in Walmer Street and a series of pipes from there to the Gardens. This system was opened in May 1891. Farquhar’s photograph of the man-made weir obscures the industrial activity on both sides of the Falls and focusses solely on the river and the surrounding natural vegetation. The photograph probably predates the disastrous flooding of the Yarra River in July 1891, the greatest to have occurred in the Colony since the foundation of Melbourne.
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