Architectural Information

The State Records Office holds historical sets of architectural plans and drawings from the Public Works Department and other agencies involved in design and construction.

These plans are mainly of government-owned buildings and works, but plans of some commercial and residential properties are also included in the collection. All of these plans have been transferred from government agencies, such as the Public Works Department, rather than from private architects.

Several significant collections of plans created by private architectural firms are held by the State Library of Western Australia.

Public Works

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The construction of public works in Western Australia initially came under the control of Henry Reveley, the Civil Engineer for the Swan River Colony. This was to remain the case until 1877 when the first Director of Public Works was appointed. The Department for Works and Railways was formed soon after and the public works function was later transferred to the Public Works Department (PWD) in 1901.

Correspondence regarding the construction of public works for the 1800's can be found in the records of the Colonial Secretary's Office held by the State Records Office. This correspondence does not contain plans as such, but rather deals with the initiation, progress and completion of major and minor works in the Colony.

In 1891, the Department of Works began a system of allocating plan numbers (PWD numbers) to public works plans. The department was also to do this retrospectively so that early plans dating from the establishment of the Swan River Colony were issued with PWD numbers.

Many PWD plans of historically significant buildings and works have been transferred to the custody of the State Records Office and form the core of the architectural plans held in the collection. The majority of the plans are available for ready access on microfiche on the 3rd floor of the State Library / State Archives (at consignment 1647). In cases where the PWD plans are not available on microfiche, the original plans will need to be ordered.

PWD Plans - Architectural and Engineering, 1829 - 1999, Series 399

These plans document buildings and works of significant architectural, aesthetic, heritage and historic value - past and present - that were built by the Public Works Department. The Department of Finance: Building Management and Works also retains many PWD plans for structures that are still government-owned and operational.

PWD Files, 1895-1995, Series 82

As well as PWD plans, the State Records Office holds PWD files which document the construction of public works in Western Australia. These files often contain plans and drawings of the work to which they relate.

Goldfields Water Supply plans, 1896-1938, Series 2359

In addition to this discreet set of plans at Series 2359, many Goldfields Water Supply engineering plans were incorporated into PWD plans in earlier decades and will be found in amongst the main PWD plan listings at Series 399.

Metropolitan Water Supply plans, 1897-1975, AN 134/8

These plans document metropolitan reticulation and sewerage, building and residential water supply, reservoir and dam drawings, contoured and topographical data (metropolitan areas prone to flooding).

Government Railways, 1890-1986, Series 2423 and Series 2238

These plans include railway station buildings and yards (in addition to railway lines) across the State. The plans are a key resource to anyone conducting a heritage assessment of such works or is involved in their restoration. A microfiche card index available on the 3rd floor of the State Library / State Archives provides a detailed finding aid to these civil engineering (CCE) plans.

Departmental Files - various

Building and Works files that have been transferred to the State Records Office from individual government departments may also have architectural plans attached to them. Construction files received from the Health department (for hospitals) and Education department (for schools) are particularly extensive.

Plans of Residential Properties

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Many local government authorities retain house plans submitted as part of the building application process. The only series which has so far come to the State Records Office is from the City of Stirling.

In some cases, the original plans of houses (and commercial properties) may no longer exist. It is, however, worth checking with your local council to determine if they still hold original building plans for your property.

City of Stirling House Plans, 1917-1947, Series 4519

The State Records Office holds architectural plans of houses built in the City of Stirling (then called the Perth Road Board) for the period 1917 to 1947. Microfilm copies of these plans can be accessed on the 3rd floor of the State Library / State Archives.

Finding aids:

  • Index to the plans: The street name and lot number of the property are required to able to search this index; 
  • Information Sheet: To assist in locating the correct microfilm reel for the required plan.

Please note that house plans for the City of Stirling between the period 1947 and the early 1970's unfortunately no longer exist. The City of Stirling does hold property plans, however, for the period after the early 1970's.

City of Subiaco Property Files, 1929-1986, Series 4402

These files relate to selected residential, commercial and government properties in the City of Subiaco (i.e. not all properties). The files contain building licenses/plans and, in some instances, photographs of individual properties and related correspondence.

State Housing Commission Architectural Plans, 1930-1950, Series 1381

The State Records Office retains house plans produced by architectural staff of the Workers Homes Board/State Housing Commission. These plans are grouped in discrete sets as follows:

  • Standard drawings used for the construction of individual homes (Accessions 1643 and 1645, Consignment 4963)
  • McNess Trust Cottages (Consignment 4964)
  • One-off housing drawings (Consignment 4965)
  • Reconstructed Group Cottages (Consignment 4966)
  • Goldfields Cottages (Consignment 5017)

Metropolitan Sewerage Scheme Plans, 1906-1970, Series 634 and Sewerage Scheme Field Books, 1896- , Series 84

Metropolitan Sewerage Scheme Plans are a useful source of graphical information for residential properties. Although they do not show detailed architectural information for houses, they do show excellent "footprint" information - that is, a birds-eye outline of the house and property. This information can be very useful in establishing the original layout and design of residential properties, as well as the size of the property itself. The plans were compiled from field surveys carried out for the extension (or renovation) of the metropolitan sewerage scheme, between 1906 and 1970. 

The plans are available online through the State Records Office's RetroMaps site:

Each plan also lists the field books used by survey staff of the Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Department in producing the plans. As the State Records Office holds many of these original fieldbooks, it is possible to obtain further detailed graphical information about a given property, street or area.

Plans of Commercial Properties

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Plans - Commercial Properties, 1903-1993, Series 1320

These plans comprise copies of architectural drawings lodged with local councils in support of building approvals for commercial properties, which were then referred to the State Commissioner for Taxation for valuation purposes. Many of these plans were constructed in the Perth Central Business District in the 1930's and have since been demolished.

Plans - Licensed Premises, 1923-1994, Series 2237

These plans were transferred to the State Records Office by the Office of Racing, Gaming and Liquor and contain architectural drawings for hotels throughout the metropolitan area and regional Western Australia. Although the hotels in this plan series are limited and do not include all hotels in Western Australia, some significant licensed premises are represented. 

Further Architectural Drawings

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Plans - Architectural - Public Buildings, 1926-1992, Series 1457

Under the Health Act 1911, there was a requirement for the Executive Director of Public Health to approve the opening of any public building (a function that devolved to local authorities in the early 1990's). The plans that were lodged as part of this requirement form another very useful source of architectural information. The plans cover a wide range of public buildings including halls, churches, theatres, non-government schools, club rooms, etc.

Page reviewed 25 November 2021