How to Use This Series
These books were used by surveyors employed by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (M.M.B.W.) while working in the field to survey allotments for water supply and sewerage. They were used by technical staff to draw up M.M.B.W. plans to plot water sewerage and drainage works.
So far as can be ascertained, there is no surviving contemporary index or guide to the contents of the field books except for a book Register (VPRS 8680) for Books nos.1 to 2510. The base plans (VPRS 8601, 8602, 8603) include a citation referring back to the books containing the surveys upon which each plan is based and it appears that this was the chief method used by officers of M.M.B.W. to refer to the books. Access to the plans is provided by a book of Index plans held by Melbourne Water.
This series is part of the M.M.B.W.'s system of survey and plan records. The functions of these records and the relationships between them are described below.
Survey and Plan Records
of Melbourne & Metropolitan Board of Works and Melbourne Water
All of the survey and plan records relate to the survey of Melbourne metropolitan areas subsequent to subdivision (for which, see records of Crown lands for survey, subdivision, and sale/alienation). They document the administration of water supply, drainage, and sewerage responsibilities.
Further research is required to establish what relation (if any) existed between M.M.B.W. and the Surveyor-General in carrying out surveys of metropolitan areas. For example, were M.M.B.W. surveyors exclusively responsible for carrying out surveys in the metropolitan area, supplying information to the Surveyor-General?
The Base Plans were drawn directly from the Survey Books on a scale of 40'=1" (later 500m=1cm). The Record Plans (on various scales - e.g. 160'=1"; 200'=1"; 400'=1"; 800'=1") were drawn from the Base Plans. The planning process has passed through four systems :-
c1890s - c1950s : numeric system
"All plans produced between 1892 and 1953 were based on a random format; they were not related to a grid but to the general street pattern. Plans were numbered serially" M.M.B.W. Engineering Manual 1T-1S-O2 (December 1981) p.6.
c1950s - c1970s : alpha-numeric system
"In 1953 the Board devised the `Local Plane Rectangular System of Grid Co-Ordinates ... The subsequent map and plan series was produced on an imperial grid system based on an alpha-numeric, row and column method of identification." M.M.B.W. Engineering Manual 1T-1S-O2 (December 1981) p.6.
c1970s - by 1992 : metric system
The grid system was converted to metric and a regular programme of plan replacement from earlier systems (begun under the alpha-numeric system) to the new metric grid was continued.
by 1992 - : Facilities Information System (FIS)
Plans were and are being progressively converted to optical disk storage.
Plans in each of the systems preceding the FIS continued in current use until superseded by FIS. When a plan from an earlier system was re-drawn, it was cancelled and the new plan was renumbered in the system current at the time of re-drawing. Some plans from the numeric and alpha-numeric systems, however, were not subsequently re-drawn and remained in current use long after the system to which they belonged had been superseded.
As at December 1992, some plans from earlier systems have not been captured by FIS, so some plans in each of the preceding three systems remain in current use at the time of registration of the series.
Books of index plans exist. Using coloured transparent overlays to identify the controlling numbers/symbols in each system for each area, it is possible to identify the control number for a plan on any scale of the nominated area. Access to a copy of a book of index plans is necessary to retrieve the plans.
Water; Drainage; Sewerage Functions
These were three main functional areas of M.M.B.W. (later Melbourne Water). Copies of DP Plans and Record Plans were apparently made for each area on which were marked data relevant to their activities. In the 1950's, some of the plans were copied onto aperture cards.
Apparently all three functional areas worked out of a central plan room in Melbourne until the 1950's when a process of devolution to Regional Offices began. Water and sewerage functions were "regionalised" and the relevant plans went with them. The drainage function remained centralised.
While the position is not altogether clear, it appears that the set of plans transferred in 1992/1993 comprises plans which were drawn/redrawn at various times and kept in operational areas until M.M.B.W. began to assemble an "archive" or "record" set (? in the 1950's). If this surmise is correct, each plan now contained in the series in custody represents merely one generation of the plan with markings appropriate to that drawing and is not necessarily a complete historical record of works on the site.
Status of Plans at PRO
It is unclear whether or not the set of plans in custody contains a mixture of drawings from all three functional areas of M.M.B.W.. It is also unclear which generation of data is represented on each plan and whether superseded ("historical") data can be retrieved.
At one time, it appears that M.M.B.W. was depositing plans with the State Library (VA 2923). What status these copies have and how they relate to plans deposited with PRO and those still with Melbourne Water remains to be determined.
Survey Level Books (VPRS 8599)
Survey Field Books (VPRS 8600)
Survey books are the work books taken out by surveyors into the field. Each page contains drawings, plots and/or annotations showing angles and distances from guide points and (in some cases) the outline and details of subdivisions and constructions thereon. Familiarity with survey techniques is necessary to make full use of these records.
The books in these series are used by surveyors in the field to survey :-
allotments ("Field Books")
water levels/tables ("Level Books")
The books are numbered from 1 and are more or less chronological. A book may deal with one or several areas, depending on the tasks assigned to the surveyor whose book it was.
Older books in the series were examined as part of the transfer of M.M.B.W. archives in 1992 and were kept in storage at Melbourne Water's Mill Park facility (M.M.B.W. Archives). There were few gaps in the earlier part of the numerical sequence but these gaps grow more numerous towards the higher (later) part of the sequence. These more recent books were still in active use within the agency but it may be that the book numbers were allocated in blocks and that there were not books for all numbers.
It was said that there was no index to the books other than references to the survey book number on the "DP" plans, but there is reason to believe that a card index system exists (or existed).
For the first 500 or so of the level books, there are frequently two books (one red, one black). The black books are in series with the later part of VPRS 8599. It remains unclear what purpose was served by the red books, but by the time the books were filed at Mill Park, the two sequences were filed as one and it was decided to keep this order until the different purposes of the books could be ascertained.
Information from the Field and Level Books is used to draw up the Detailed Base Plans ["DP Plans"]. There are references on each of the DP Plans (by book number) back to the Field and Level books from which the information upon the Plan was derived. These references may be the only way back into the books unless indexes existed and can be found. Not all of the surveys in the books are cross-referenced on the Plans.
Detailed Base Plans ["DP"] 40'=1" Numeric (VPRS 8601)
Detailed Base Plans ["DP"] 40'=1" Alpha-Numeric (VPRS 8602)
Detailed Base Plans ["DP"] 500m=1cm (VPRS 8603)
Information from the Field and Level Books is used to draw up the Detailed Base Plans ["DP Plans"]. There are references on each of the DP Plans (by book number) back to the Field and Level Books from which the information upon which the Plan was derived.
There were apparently two sets of Base Plans from which were drawn copies for use in Water Supply, Drainage and Sewerage. DP Plans were then made up for use in each of the three functional areas of M.M.B.W. :-
base plans (water)
base plans (drainage)
base plans (sewerage).
From these, "Record Plans" on larger scales were also made up.
Record Plans : 160'=1" Numeric (VPRS 8604)
Record Plans : 160'=1" Alpha-Numeric (VPRS 8605)
Record Plans : 2500m=1cm Metric [records not transferred](VPRS 8606)
Record Plans : 200'=1" (VPRS 8607)
The term "Record Plans" refers to plans on scales of 160'=1" and larger.
Plans : Not Otherwise Classified (VPRS 8608)
This series contains plans on a scale larger than 160'= 1" (2500m = 1cm) as well as small runs of plans in various formats and scales or used for various purposes. The series comprises :-
VPRS 8608/P1 : Record plans (topographic) 400'=1"
VPRS 8608/P2 : Record plans 800'=1"
VPRS 8608/P3 : Chronoflex plans : detailed plans 40'=1" alpha-numeric
VPRS 8608/P4 : Chronoflex plans for various purposes (various scales)
VPRS 8608/P5 : Not otherwise classified
VPRS 8608/P6 : Restored drawings (became part of VPRS 8609/P25)
Cartographic Department Manuals
A set of manuals dating from the 1980's was provided at the time of transfer of plan records from Mill Park in 1992. These contain historical and technical information about the conduct of the survey and mapping function.
M.M.B.W. maintains an "index" to the maps which uses transparent overlays to
show the map/grid reference at each projection, and
indicate which areas have been plotted in each projection.
Further research is required to ascertain how the index maps are used to identify the maps in custody. PRO holds an example of an index book marked "Chief Surveyor" of unknown date.
Survey Field Books Register (VPRS 8680)
There survives one volume of a "Field Book Register" for Field Books (VPRS 8600) Nos.1 to 2510. This Register appears to have been compiled somewhere around 1900 and contains entries up to c1929. Early entries provide some guide to the area(s) covered by the book but are not to be wholly relied on as a complete summary of the contents of each book. Later entries which simply contain the statement "Additional Surveys" offer no help in identifying the contents of each book.