Williamstown Cemetary, Hobsons Bay Heritage Study 2006
Statement of Significance
What is Significant?
The Williamstown Cemetery, originally established in 1857, at 89 Champion Road, Williamstown.
How is it Significant?
The Williamstown Cemetery is of local historic, social and aesthetic significance to the City of Hobsons Bay and is of historical, social, aesthetic and architectural significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it Significant?
Historically, although not the first, it is now the earliest cemetery in Williamstown and among the oldest group of cemeteries in Victoria. It is important for:
- The intact road and path layout from the mid-nineteenth century, which demonstrate prevailing ideas about Australian cemetery design at that time, especially the subdivision into denominational compartments.
- The strong links with the maritime history of Williamstown, which is especially demonstrated by the diverse range of memorials that commemorate naval and civilian shipping accidents.
- The ability to illustrate William Bull's ambitious plan for a large public park in Williamstown, of which the cemetery was to be the central focus.
The position of the cemetery opposite the Newport Railway Workshops creates one of the finest streetscapes for historical meaning in Williamstown. (AHC criteria A4 and D2)
Socially, it has considerable value as a historical record of nineteenth century attitudes toward mourning and as a focus of sentiment for the local community. (AHC Criterion G1)
Aesthetically, it is a rare example of an intact early cemetery, which possesses an atmosphere, which powerfully symbolizes Victorian attitudes towards death. It is notable for the distinctive layout of roads and paths, especially the curved roadways and the manner in which they focus on the fountain at the centre of the 1857 site, which is a fine and rare example of its type. Other notable elements include:
- The remnant mature planting, particularly the perimeter conifer planting and specimen trees
- The palm avenue, both for the regularity of the avenue and the 'signature' quality of the mature specimens.
- The massed effect of the tombstones and memorials; due to the consistent development of the cemetery there is a great regularity to the lots.
- Vistas within the cemetery and views into the cemetery.
- The 1937 Chapel and Office.
(AHC criteria B2, E1 and F1)
Note: Included on the Victorian Heritage Register as VHR H1837.