Using the collection for photographic investigations by Steven Haby

Using the collection for photographic investigations by Steven Haby


A recent visitor to the PMI to discuss an upcoming publication on the history of Melbourne’s horse buses and trams shared with me a scanned slide of a Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board bus taken sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

By way of background the slide was one of several thousand taken by legendary tram and bus enthusiast Keith Kings who donated his collection recently to the State Library of Victoria. The slide has been scanned by the State Library as part of making Keith’s works available to the enthusiast and general public alike.

As some of you may be aware your Secretary Librarian is a keen railway, bus and tramway enthusiast and I showed this image to fellow enthusiast and Footscray Mechanics Institute Library Manager Luke Mitchell and both of us settled down to identify the location of and approximate date the photograph was taken. This was in response to the fact that the State Library of Victoria had not yet completed the indexing of Keith’s collection (Keith took meticulous notes).

So firstly Luke and I looked for clues contained in the slide which include:

  • The bus is parked on a road with tram tracks.
  • Preston OK Motors car yard
  • The phone number of the mechanics (J. McIntyre) XA1906
  • The cars in the yard and the yellow panel van on the right
  • The unusual shape of the building with the Penfolds Sherry sign

A search was then undertaken on the National Library of Australia’s Trove digitised newspaper collection for any reference to either “J. McIntyre” or “Preston Motors” which hopefully an address. Not surprisingly there were numerous references to both in the classified sections of The Age, The Argus and other newspapers but no specific addresses. Furthermore Preston Motors had more than one location across Melbourne (most of which were on tram routes).

Next we got down to specifics and turned to the Sands & McDougall directory of Melbourne and Victoria of which PMI has editions in book, electronic and microfiche formats. The ‘Sands’ is an excellent resource to track down details of what or who was at specific addresses as it is indexed by name, street and business type. Both “J. McIntyre” and “Preston Motors” were found and cross referenced to the specific street – in this case Chapel Street at the corner of Brighton Road and Grosvenor Street. This was further confirmed by referring to some old Morgan’s street directories of Melbourne which PMI has several.

Finally the date was hopefully further narrowed by searching for details about the cars and bus in the picture. Two of the cars in the yard were Holden “FE” models which were built around 1955-56 period. Details of the bus was found on a bus enthusiasts website which noted sparse details save for the fact that it was a Leyland RTS8c Tiger with bodywork by Cheetham & Borwick of Carlton.

The mystery was solved.


Image © and permission has been given by the copyright holder for the use of this image

Source: Keith Kings Public Transport Collection, Pictures Collection, State Library of Victoria