Black and white 5" x 4" negative showing the newly erected Cromwell, Chandris Line office building, on the corner of Bourke & Elizabeth Streets Melbourne, on 26 March 1971. This new structure replaced the original Cromwell Building, a landmark Victorian building which was constructed in 1886. The new, brown-brick office tower was in turn demolished in the 1990s, just twenty years after its construction.

This image is part of the Laurie Richards Collection at Museum Victoria comprising approximately 85,000 negatives taken by the Melbourne based Laurie Richards Studio between the 1950s -1970s. These negatives are all mostly large format [5"x 4"/ 12.5 x 10 cm], black and white images, though a significant number are in colour. The many photographic jobs that were undertaken in the course of thirty years are itemised in a set of log books, copies of which are also held by Museum Victoria.

Laurie Richards was a professional photographer who began his career as a photo-journalist, working for the Advertiser newspaper in Adelaide, and the Argus and the Herald newspapers in Melbourne. In 1953, he opened his own business and set up a photographic studio at his home at 4 Tower Avenue, Alphington, an inner suburb of Melbourne. At its peak, in the late 1960s, the Laurie Richards Studio was one of Melbourne's pre-eminent commercial photographic studios, employing twelve photographers. The Laurie Richards Studio worked mainly in advertising and public relations, and had a broad clientele which included commercial companies, government institutions and the entertainment industry.

Description of Content

View of a high rise office building [about 15 stories] on a busy city street, Bourke Street in Melbourne, taken from beneath a verandah on the opposite side of the street. A tram is travelling past the building and, diagonally opposite, pedestrians are crossing the road in the foreground. On the street perpendicular to the tram [Elizabeth Street], a number of cars, another tram and a tramstop can also be seen. Other buildings are visible, including the State Savings Bank of Victoria head office [at left] and Coles and Garrard.

Physical Description

Black and white 5" x 4" cellullose acetate negative.


Because of the breadth of both the subject matter photographed and the diverse businesses which commissioned the work, and the excellent documentation that accompanies the collection, the Laurie Richards Collection at Museum Victoria is an invaluable record of Melbourne’s commercial and industrial past and as such gives an insight into the social history of that period.

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