How to read the MMBW 40ft to the inch detail plans

How to read Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works detail plans, including the abbreviations, hatchings and symbols used on the plans.

Plan indexes

Sometimes it can be difficult to find a detail plan by searching the Library's catalogue using street or suburb names. Navigating the plans using the following indexes can help confirm if an area was mapped, or if a plan is part of the Library's collection.

1. Master index plan

The main grid system plan helps you to find the numbers of the MMBW index and detail plans which cover your area of interest. Look for the numbers and letters in red.

Can't read the plan? Visit our digitised copy to zoom in on your area of interest.

2. Index plans 

Once you've identified your area of interest on the master index, click on the corresponding index plan number below.

  15D 15E 15F    
  14D 14E 14F 14G  
13C 13D 13E 13F 13G  
12C 12D 12E 12F 12G 12H
11C 11D 11E 11F 11G 11H
10C 10D 10E 10F 10G 10H
9C 9D 9E 9F 9G 9H
8C 8D 8E 8F 8G 8H
    7E 7F 7G  
      6F 6G  
        5G 5H
        4G  
        3G  
      2F 2G  

Please note that some areas were never mapped, so there are no plans for these areas in our collection.

The index plans help you to find the identification number of the 40 feet to 1 inch detail plan which covers your area of interest. The index plans include small blue numbers which are the numbers of the MMBW 40 feet to 1 inch detail plans. (There are no small blue numbers on index maps 4G, 5H, 7G, 8H, 9C, 11C, 11G, 12D, 12G, 13D, 13E, 13G. This is because the outer suburbs were not mapped in detail).

A shaded copy of each index plan is available. Grey shading indicates that the Library holds a copy of the corresponding numbered detail plan. For example this shaded index plan of the Moonee Ponds/West Brunswick area, near Moonee Valley Racecourse, indicates that we hold detail plans 1648, 1649, 1647, 2260, 2260 and so on. A lack of shading indicates that we do not hold detail plan 1646.

Please note: index plan 10H includes 40 ft to 1 inch detail plan numbers that duplicate previously allocated detail plan numbers. For example, 10H references detail plan 84 in Croyden, which we do not hold, but we hold two earlier detail plan 84s that map part of Brighton (first in 1904 and then at a later date).

3. Detail plans

Once you have identified the numbers of the detail plans that you would like to look at, you can view the plans online.

To locate a plan that shows your area of interest:

1. Go to the Library's online catalogue
2. In the search box, enter the terms mmbw and the detail plan number, for example mmbw 1648
3. To the right of the search box, select Maps from the drop-down menu and click the Search button
4. Your search will retrieve one or more records. Click on the title of the item for more information (including date of publication). To access the digitised plan, click on Available online. If your search produces too many results, try adding a suburb name to your search terms.