Author: Sandra Hopper

The series VPRS 8360 contains a slide display of many images on the progress of Port of Melbourne in the second half of the 19th and in the early 20th century.

VPRS 8360/p2 Lantern Slide 15 River Yarra. Victoria Dock Nov 1925

With the rapid growth of Melbourne and the poor state of the port, merchants pushed to develop a better port where ships could dock and navigate the river closer to growing communities. This lead to the establishment in 1877 of the Melbourne Harbour Trust which employed 15 commissioners to represent various interests in the Port and to improve access for shipping to Melbourne. The Trust hired a leading engineer from Britain, Sir John Coode, who recommended large scale engineering project to improve the port.

During this time the Yarra River was widened, deepened and straightened to form the Coode Canal for ships to enter which was in use by 1886. The project included improvements to raise embankments on the river to lessen and prevent flooding of Melbourne. A major dock facility was established by cutting into land near the rail yards, known as Victoria Dock, which was opened in 1893. As ships increased in size and tonnage, further developments to the docks happened, the slides show snippets of the works over the years, from the construction of the docks and canals, the workers on the wharves, big ships unloading, warships and lighthouses. The slides show a range of works on the Progress of Port Melbourne and include the following subjects:

  • aerial views of the Port of Melbourne
  • maps of the Port of Melbourne and surrounding areas
  • working docks (loading/unloading of cargo)
  • factory sites
  • construction
  • shipping
  • lighthouses
  • divers
  • warships
  • engineering drawings of wharves, canals and sheds


VPRS 8360/p2 Lantern Slide 58 Crane Construction - Station Pier

Digitised images of these slides can be viewed in the PROV online catalogue. Access these slides in VPRS 8360 and select the p2 consignment located in the ‘Accessing the Records of this Series’ tab.

Creating Agency: Melbourne Harbour Trust Commissioners (VA2799)

To view more images, pop into the Victorian Archives Centre Reading Room in North Melbourne.

VPRS 8360/p2 Lantern Slide 56 "Empress of Britain" & "Reliance" (Station Pier)

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