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Restoring our St Kilda Cemetery wall

30 November 2023
St Kilda Cemetery Wall Restoration project

Keeping our community safe while preserving our legacy

St Kilda Cemetery has been a landmark icon in our community since it first opened its gates in June 1855. As one of Melbourne’s oldest suburban cemeteries it is the resting place of many notable Australians, and it is visited daily by those wishing to appreciate its rich history and visit loved ones alike.

It is our great privilege to be entrusted with the care and preservation of this historic site, to ensure that our current community as well as future generations can continue to have a safe and enjoyable experience while visiting. As part of this commitment, we are undertaking restoration works to the perimeter wall of the cemetery, which has experienced wear and tear of its 160-year history.

Taking proactive action in this restoration ensures the safety of pedestrians and visitors while preserving the legacy of St Kilda Cemetery.

A heritage-listed site

As a heritage-listed site, the process of restoration is a complex one and takes into account the historical nature of the site while placing the safety and wellbeing of our community at its core. The project is also made more complex by the impacts of our COVID-19 pandemic which has resulted in restrictions to work and construction over the last 12 months.

Project timeline

The initial stages of the restoration project commenced in February 2020, with Phase One (Alexandra Street) completed in April 2021. Phase two, restoration of the wall along Hotham Street, started in late 2021 and took place through the pandemic - with works completed in late 2023.

Thank you for your understanding and support throughout this project as we preserve this site to keep our community safe and ensure that future generations can reflect, honour and celebrate their loved ones.

Project updates

Officially complete – November 2023

Our restoration works on heritage listed St Kilda Cemetery walls are now officially complete, with the multi-year, multi-million dollar project signed off and meeting strict heritage standards. Further works to put the interior of the cemetery behind the walls to rights is ongoing, and we appreciate that there are at times area that are less accessible during these minor works. We thank the local community, Friends Group, government and statutory body stakeholders, commuters and especially families for their patience and understanding throughout the works, and look forward to continuing to preserve the history and heritage of this iconic site through future collaborative projects.

Restoration works on the St Kilda Cemetery walls on Hotham and Alexandra Streets are officially complete.

The final stages - September 2023

Our restoration works on heritage listed St Kilda Cemetery walls are now moving into the final stages, and we were happy to chat with some of the people in charge of this multi-year, multi-million dollar project to gain their insights.

We thank the residents of both Hotham Street and Alexandra Street for their patience during this multi-year project.

When working on a heritage project such as this, it was essential to retain the original materials of the wall. Close to 100,000 original bricks have been salvaged to rebuild the walls, which involved carefully removing, cleaning, storing and replacing bricks and small sections of the wall to ensure community safety and heritage value were maintained at all times.

St Kilda Wall Final Stages
New trees have been planted along the line of the wall and path on Hotham Street

The latest phase to be completed saw the City of Port Philip plant 79 new pencil pines along Hotham Street, replacing the 78 trees removed to allow safe access and undertaking of the project. New bus shelters have been installed at the Fulton Street and Alma Road bus stops, and Bus Route 603 is again fully operational, with all traffic management measures now removed.

We look forward to hosting a commemoration event in November to officially commemorate the completed and renovated St Kilda Cemetery walls

Works now underway

May 2022

We are excited to announce that Stage 2 of the "St Kilda Perimeter Wall Restoration Project" has commenced, with the granting of a number of required applications and permits by our relevant authority stakeholders and site establishment, including site sheds and compounds, work zone temporary fencing and access pathway demarcation works underway.

Detailed demolition and excavation works are set to commence in May and a number of traffic management arrangements will be undertaken in accordance with our permit approvals.

Stage Two to commence next month

February 2022

Stage Two of restoration works on the historic St Kilda Cemetery wall is scheduled to commence in March 2022. Starting from Dandenong Road and working towards Alma Road, wall panels will be restored in six stages, with ten panels restored at a time. There will be some overlap between stages, and we expect these works to take approximately 14 months to complete. We will be working closely with key authorities including the City of Port Phillip, Vic Roads and Public Transport Victoria to minimise impact to members of the community during this time.

In order to conduct these Stage Two works safely and effectively, we will be required to remove a number of pencil pine trees along Hotham Street. Each tree that must be removed will be replaced with a two-metre tree of the same species, as part of a replanting program to be carried out later in 2022 and into 2023 by the City of Port Phillip.

Intermittent, temporary closure of some bus stops along Hotham Street will also occur during the works. However, there will always be at least one stop made available at all times. We suggest keeping an eye out for signage regarding closures, and using the Public Transport Victoria website to plan any affected journeys in advance.

Abode Restoration Pty Ltd Appointed

February 2022

We are pleased to share that we have appointed heritage specialists Abode Restoration Pty Ltd to carry out the restoration works during Stage Two of the St Kilda Wall Restoration project. These works are expected to commence in March this year.

Stage One completed (Alexandra Street)

April 2021

Phase 1 Alexandra Street
Image: The beginning of Stage One construction on the Alexandra Street wall
Alexandra Street Fence Restoration Complete
Image: Completed restoration of the Alexandra Street wall

Our first milestone achievement

In April, we successfully completed the restoration of the Alexandra Street portion of the restoration project.

Alexandra Street was identified for the first phase of the project as an area requiring critical attention. The degradation of the wall was beginning to compromise the graves located around these walls and we needed to protect these areas from damage. We are pleased to share that the structure has now been restored and reinforced so that future generations can continue to visit the resting place of their loved ones safely at our grounds.

Access has been restored to the parking area and footpaths along Alexandra Street and road restrictions to adjacent roads have now ceased.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What has happened to the St Kilda Cemetery wall?

  • Several panels on St Kilda Cemetery's perimeter wall are sloping, either inwards or outwards. This is due to the age of the wall, which is more than one hundred years old, and due to the historical construction methods used in its construction.

Why is the St Kilda Cemetery wall being restored?

  • A key focus of the restoration is safety. The project will ensure that the St Kilda community, pedestrians, cemetery visitors and all those that interact with the site can have a safe and positive experience now and into the future.
  • The secondary focus of this project is to preserve this iconic heritage-listed Victorian site for future generations to enjoy and continue to honour their loved ones.

What does the project involve?

  • The brick fencing of the cemetery along Alexandra Street and Hotham Street will be demolished and re-built in line with the original design to ensure community safety and the perseveration of this site.

Which areas will be affected by wall works?

  • See map below highlighting key areas on Hotham and Alexandra Streets.

Can I still visit my loved ones while construction is taking place?

  • Yes. We welcome you to continue to visit during the project period, noting that there will be additional safety precautions in place.

    If you would like to visit a grave or memorial that is in close proximity to the wall restoration work, we ask that you please contact our Customer Care team on (03) 9349 3014 or email stk@smct.org.au to arrange special access for your visit.
  • The cemetery will continue to be open to the public. Please see here for our opening hours.

When will the restoration project finish?

  • The project is expected to be completed in March 2023, however, we note that some of this is dependent on any work and construction restrictions that could arise from the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to provide updates on our progress.

Who can I contact if I have any questions or concerns?

We welcome views and feedback from our community. If you have any questions please contact our Customer Care team on stk@smct.org.au.

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