Cheltenham Pioneer Cemetery History
The Cheltenham Pioneer Cemetery was the first general cemetery established in Melbourne’s bayside area, known before 1917 as the Mordialloc and South Moorabbin General Cemetery. On 5 August 1862, one hectare (2.49 acres) was reserved, and on 18 March 1863, the trustees, led by Chairman Thomas Attenborough, were appointed.
The cemetery opened for interments on 3 October 1864, and the first burial, namely that of John Fullerton Hunter, occurred on 27 March 1865. In 1874, the cemetery was extended to 3.23 hectares (8 acres) of land.
Initially, just half of the area was used. The layout of the original area consisted of wide paths bordering each denominational section, a single main road running through the middle of the grounds and a roundabout located at the rear.
A north-eastern portion of the cemetery (0.3 hectares or .75 acre), which had no burials, was excised in 1881 for the railway line to Mordialloc. As compensation, an additional .86 hectare (2.13 acres) of land was added in 1882. In 1915, the original section of the office was built to the design of local architect Solon A. Peck. In the late 1920s, the cemetery was improved by the construction of the brick wall and gates and the shelter house pavilion, while in the early 1930s brick paths were built.
The Pioneer Cemetery reached its capacity in the late 1920s, and a new burial ground, Cheltenham Memorial Park, was established nearby. The Pioneer Cemetery has changed little since 1931, the only notable exception being the Walls of Remembrance for cremated remains built in 1961. The area now covers 2.43 hectares (6 acres).
The cemetery is now in the care of the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust, a not-for-profit community organisation.
Cheltenham Pioneer Cemetery notable interments and historic sites:
- ‘Eliza’ Member of the Bunurong tribe (? - 1877)
- Alexander Vause MacDonald Pioneer Grazier & Hotel Owner (1817-1881)
- John Fullarton Hunter First burial (1840 - 1865)
- Dr Richard Goldstone (1802 - 1888) Medical Practitioner
- John Blencowe (1820 - 1870) Former Convict
- Sizar Elliott (1814 - 1901) Magistrate & Merchant
- Mary (Molly) Hill (1902 - 1932) Champion Cross Country Skier
- Adeline Keating (1885 - 1957) Merchant Buyer
- Rose Elizabeth Sears (1806 - 1866) Former Convict
- Nicholas Le Page (1826 - 1885) Early Settler
- Francis Thomas Le Page (1852 - 1927) Mayor & Cemetery Trustee
- Addie (Fairlie) Taylor (1887 - 1983) Author
- William Ruse (1825 - 1900) Magistrate & Councillor
- Walter Meeres (1825 - 1916) First Cheltenham Primary School Headmaster
- James Bickford Moysey (1809 - 1889) Pastoralist
- Mary Ann Charman (1820 - 1870) Market Gardener
- Hannah Beazley (1845 - 1908) Reputedly First Female Butcher in Melbourne
- John Booker (1819 - 1906) Early Settler
- ‘Tiger’ Aborigine from Queensland (? - 1887)
- James Bennett (1805 - 1886) Former Convict