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Melbourne Water Docklands, Victoria

Formerly The Board of Works and Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW), Melbourne Water is owned by the Victorian Government.

For 120 years we have managed Melbourne’s water supply catchments, treated and supplied drinking and (more recently) recycled water, removed and treated most of Melbourne’s sewage and managed waterways and major drainage systems in the Port Phillip and Westernport region.

We are also responsible for managing a large number of historic places and objects. These assets tell us about social changes, technical and creative achievements, and provide a tangible link to past events, processes and people.

As detailed in our cultural heritage strategy, it is our responsibility to not only maintain and protect these valuable assets, but when such infrastructure is no longer used, to ensure heritage values are documented and protected.

Contact Information

location
Melbourne Water PO Box 4342 Melbourne Vic 3001 (map)

Contact

Location

990 La Trobe Street Docklands Victoria

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The Melbourne Water collection consists of many historical objects, photographs, documents, films and oral histories ranging from the late 1800s up until the early years of 2000. Items that can be found within the collection are souvenirs, glassware, signs, textiles, books, photographs and documents relating to places such as the Metropolitan Farm (WTP), the Maroondah System, Yan Yean, Upper Yarra and the Silvan Reservoir. Also included are reports such as sewerage reports, annual reports and review of operations, as well as staff magazines and newsletters that were once distributed by the organisation itself. Promotional material is also included in this collection as well as tapes, DVD’s and CD’s relating to the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) and Melbourne Water. There are also many slides and negatives relating to Melbourne’s waterways that are stored in the collection.

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42 items

42 items

Transparency - Staff and Chauffeurs at the O'Shannassy Weir Quarters

Melbourne Water, Docklands

Historical information

The O'Shannassy Weir was a small Weir created in 1911 and completed in 1913, and was the originating point of outflow into the Aqueduct. In 1928, it was replaced by the much larger O'Shannassy Reservoir. The Weir had water moving along the Aqueduct to the Surrey Hills Reservoir. Many structures at the Weir precinct have survived and remain in-situ.

Significance

The O'shannassy Weir and Aqueduct contains a wide range of intact and diverse features. This demonstrates the way in which the Board constructed and managed the water supply that flowed through farmland and forest areas subject to timber milling. The caretakers residences that are located along the aqueduct were utilised by caretakers who were responsible for maintaining one of their four sections of the channel. This transparency is significant for its historic association to the establishment of the weir and to those who worked on the project, and at the quarters.

Photograph - Tunnel at the O'Shannasy Dam

Melbourne Water, Docklands

Black and white photograph

Historical information

The O'Shannassy Reservoir supplies water to the Silvan Reservoir, which distributes it to most parts of Melbourne. The dam was completed in 1928 and is an earthfill embankment with a reinforced concrete core wall.

Significance

This photograph is significant as it provides a detailed insight into the Boards activity and construction of one of Melbourne's most important water supply systems. Furthermore, it is of historical importance to the history of Melbourne while it is representative of shaping Melbourne's environments, transforming and managing land and natural resources, and providing urban infrastructure and services. This photograph also covers the theme of Safety, depicting the safety standards of the time particularly with clothing.

MMBW Hand Tool "Pick"

Melbourne Water, Docklands

MMBW hand tool, "Pick" with wooden handle and 'MMBW 'stamped on the metal head.

Historical information

As the Yarra became unsuitable as a source of water, several attempts were made to find alternative sources for the growing population of Melbourne. It was not until 1891 that the efforts to sewer Melbourne came to fruition with the setting up of the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW), now known as Melbourne Water. From 1891 until 1992, it was the responsibility of the MMBW to safeguard public health by providing a sewerage system and a safe water supply system. In 1992, The MMBW merged with a number of smaller urban water authorities to form Melbourne Water.

Significance

This hand tool is of historical significance for its association with the former Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW). This tool is a rare surviving object of standard Board issued equipment. It is significant for its representativeness of the theme of Technology in building Victoria's industries and workforce, which continues to resonate strongly within Melbourne Water today.

Photograph - Typists at the Board

Melbourne Water, Docklands

Colour Photograph

Historical information

As the Yarra became unsuitable as a source of water, several attempts were made to find alternative sources for the growing population of Melbourne. It was not until 1891 that the efforts to sewer Melbourne came to fruition with the setting up of the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW), now known as Melbourne Water. From 1891 until 1992, it was the responsibility of the MMBW to safeguard public health by providing a sewerage system and a safe water supply system. In 1992, The MMBW merged with a number of smaller urban water authorities to form Melbourne Water.

Significance

As the MMBW employed men to undertake secretarial work within the first few decades of operation, it wasn't until 1912 when the first female 'typiste' was employed. This photograph, showing a group of typists employed by the Board, is historically significant as it represents the kinds of jobs that women were employed in during the 1970s.

Photograph - Steel Pipeline

Melbourne Water, Docklands

Black and white photograph

Historical information

The Upper Yarra Reservoir supplies the Silvan Reservoir, which distributes water throughout the Melbourne metropolitan area. The dam was completed in 1957 and is a rolled earthfill and rockfill embankment. This photograph shows a 68" diameter steel pipeline that was to convey the water from the Upper Yarra Reservoir to the Silvan Reservoir.

Significance

This photograph is significant as it provides a detailed insight into the Boards activity and construction of one of Melbourne's most important water supply systems. Furthermore, it is of historical importance to the history of Melbourne while it is representative of shaping Melbourne's environments, transforming and managing land and natural resources, and providing urban infrastructure and services. The photograph itself is aesthetically pleasing, through its depth of field and use of shape with an interesting composition.

MMBW Notice

Melbourne Water, Docklands

The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works Notice by direction of the Officers and Servants' Committee,Officers and Employees of the Board are notified that they must not absent themselves from duty for the purpose of taking part in Parliamentary, Municipal, or other Elections. GEO. A. Gibbs, Secretary.

Historical information

As the Yarra became unsuitable as a source of water, several attempts were made to find alternative sources for the growing population of Melbourne. It was not until 1891 that the efforts to sewer Melbourne came to fruition with the setting up of the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW), now known as Melbourne Water. From 1891 until 1992, it was the responsibility of the MMBW to safeguard public health by providing a sewerage system and a safe water supply system. In 1992, The MMBW merged with a number of smaller urban water authorities to form Melbourne Water.

Significance

This MMBW notice is of historical significance for its association with the former Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW). This item fits under the theme of staff/employees at the MMBW.

Photograph - Upper Yarra Dam Personnel

Melbourne Water, Docklands

Historical information

As the Yarra became unsuitable as a source of water, several attempts were made to find alternative sources for the growing population of Melbourne. It was not until 1891 that the efforts to sewer Melbourne came to fruition with the setting up of the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW), now known as Melbourne Water. From 1891 until 1992, it was the responsibility of the MMBW to safeguard public health by providing a sewerage system and a safe water supply system. In 1992, The MMBW merged with a number of smaller urban water authorities to form Melbourne Water. In 1946, the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) approved a site for a new dam for Melbourne's domestic water. This is now known as the Upper Yarra Dam. Due to the construction of the dam, the workforce had to be accommodated on site; domestic quarters were built for single men, families and staff. The township also had kitchens, laundry facilities, a canteen, a recreation hall, mess areas and a co-op store, with one of the first houses being seconded to accommodate for a school.

Significance

This photograph shows personnel at a Kindergarten party at the Upper Yarra Dam, a time where workers were housed during its construction. The photograph is historically significant as it captures a purpose built community that supported the workers undertaking the construction of the dam.

Souvenir tea caddy spoon "Tea Time"

Melbourne Water, Docklands

Tea caddy spoon with clock face engraved showing 4pm on round spoon, tea pot shaped handle with enamel scenic view badge saying 'Healesville' ( depicting Maroondah Reservoir outlet tower). Tea caddy spoon box labelled 'Fine Silverware by Stokes'

Historical information

Melbourne Water inherited many of its water assets, such as reservoirs from its predecessor the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW). They have served the organisation well and have long been celebrated for both their natural beauty and engineering ingenuity. In the nineteenth century Victoria’s fundamental need for water infrastructure went beyond merely functional solutions and reflected the English ideal of the romance and beauty that was embodied in expanses of water. The MMBW further enhanced this notion by incorporating beauty and function in to the Classical and Italianate designs of its infrastructure such as pumping houses and reservoir outlet towers. The reservoir gardens and picnic areas were landscaped with ornamental stonework, exotic trees, decorative flower beds, fern glads pools and rose gardens. All features of the water supply system became widely celebrated as beauty spots that continue to be very popular to this day with tourists and locals alike. This souvenir is a product of that flourishing tourist trade. These water supply sites continue to enhance Melbourne’s charm and liveability and are now recognised as places of cultural and historic significance

Significance

This souvenir item has been curated by Melbourne Water as it represents an important historical aspect of the organisation by demonstrating the popularity of its water asset sites as recreational places and tourist attractions, and although these sites are functional parts of the water supply system, they were also designed to be enjoyed by the public both aesthetically and recreationally.

Inscriptions & Markings

Stokes and Sons Stokes & Sons logo (Star with S and boomerang) EG. No. 15733

Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works Flag

Melbourne Water, Docklands

Navy and gold Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) flag with the Southern Cross and MMBW coat of arms. The coat of arms incorporates Melbourne and the United Kingdom, and the motto of the board 'Publica Merces Salus Mea', 'Public Health is my Reward'.

Historical information

As the Yarra became unsuitable as a source of water, several attempts were made to find alternative sources for the growing population of Melbourne. It was not until 1891 that the efforts to sewer Melbourne came to fruition with the setting up of the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW), now known as Melbourne Water. From 1891 until 1992, it was the responsibility of the MMBW to safeguard public health by providing a sewerage system and a safe water supply system. In 1992, The MMBW merged with a number of smaller urban water authorities to form Melbourne Water

Significance

This MMBW flag is of historical significance for its association with the former Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW). This flag is relatively intact with only two of its kind held in the collection. The flag is significant as is represents a proud organisation and demonstrates the organisations historical development of services, a strong theme of the collection. The flags navy and gold colour is aesthetically pleasing while the coat of arms represented on the flag holds great meaning.

Handkerchief - Maroondah Dam, Healesville Souvenir

Melbourne Water, Docklands

Pink handkerchief with lace trim. The handkerchief features a print of the Maroondah Dam, with text “Maroondah Dam. Greetings from Healesville Vic”.

Historical information

The Maroondah System was first and foremost developed as a functional component of Melbourne's Water Supply System. In addition to functionality, the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) envisioned the Maroondah Reserve to be enjoyed aesthetically and recreationally by the public. This souvenir illustrates the realisation of the Maroondah System as a local recreational and tourist attraction in the early 20th century. The Maroondah Reserve gardens were landscaped with English-style ornamental stonework, exotic trees, flower beds and rose gardens. All features of the water supply system became widely celebrated as beauty spots that continue to be very popular to this day with tourists and locals alike. This souvenir is a product of that flourishing tourist trade. These water supply sites continue to enhance Melbourne’s charm and liveability and are now recognised as places of cultural and historic significance.

Significance

This souvenir item has been curated by Melbourne Water as it represents an important historical aspect of the organisation by demonstrating the popularity of its water asset sites as recreational places and tourist attractions, and although these sites are functional parts of the water supply system, they were also designed to be enjoyed by the public both aesthetically and recreationally.

Compensating Polar Planimeter

Melbourne Water, Docklands

The instrument is inside a black metal case with accessories including: Setting bar, screwdriver, Allen key and spare pole point. Inside is also the adjustable planimeter.

Historical information

As the Yarra became unsuitable as a source of water, several attempts were made to find alternative sources for the growing population of Melbourne. It was not until 1891 that the efforts to sewer Melbourne came to fruition with the setting up of the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW), now known as Melbourne Water. From 1891 until 1992, it was the responsibility of the MMBW to safeguard public health by providing a sewerage system and a safe water supply system. In 1992, The MMBW merged with a number of smaller urban water authorities to form Melbourne Water. This item was used by MMBW employees as a measuring device to determine areas or figures on a plane surface having either straight or irregular boundaries.

Significance

The Compensating Polar Planimeter is of historical significance for its association with the former Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW). This measuring device is perfectly intact and a rare surviving object of standard Board issued equipment. The kit is significant for its representativeness of the theme of Technology in building Victoria's industries and workforce, which continues to resonate strongly within Melbourne Water today.

Photograph - Turning Of The First Sod

Melbourne Water, Docklands

Black and white photograph

Historical information

The 19th of May marks the anniversary of the turning of the first sod of the outfall sewer. In 1888, a Royal Commission into Melbourne’s public health led to an ambitious plan to construct a sewerage system of underground pipes, sewers and drains to carry sewage from homes and factories to a sewage treatment farm. The commission also supported the establishment of the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW), the authority that would build the sewerage system and manage Melbourne’s water supply. This photograph is from The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works Water Supply, Sewerage, and etc Photographic Views, 1908

Significance

This photograph is in excellent condition and provides a detailed insight into Board personnel of the MMBW. It is of historical importance to the history of Melbourne in the turning of the very first sod.