Creswick Cemetery- Old and New
On November 7th 1856 Alexander Lewers wrote to the Colonial Secretary asking how we are to obtain a Cemetery in the township :
“Previous to the survey of this town the diggers and the residents buried their dead on a piece of ground within two hundred yards of the township boundary and which ground has since proved to be on a lead of gold…. the crowded state of the small plot of ground used as a burial ground at present makes it dangerous in the highest degree.”
This would mean that the local residents of Creswick were probably burying their dead at this site as early as 1852. More research will need to be done to determine this as fact. It also means that the Old Cemetery which was near the Black Lead, now known as Calembeen Park, was never a gazetted cemetery and therefore a proper register of burials was probably never done.
The Old Cemetery is in Drummond street on the left as you head towards Calembeen Park, it is fenced and has trees and shrubs along with a large rock that has a plaque and the names of those who were Trustees at the time of the cemetery being turned into a Pioneer Park.
October 13 1950 the Creswick Advertiser reported that the sexton, Mr. Ellis found only two headstones intact at the old cemetery, they read: “Sacred to the memory of William H. Taylor who died April 1855. Aged 13 months.” and “Erected by John Bowden to the memory of his beloved uncle Edward Bowden, late of Rednith, Cornwall, who was accidentally killed by the falling in of a drive on the 19th November, 1854, Aged 34 years.”
In March 1858 Alexander Lewers, Aenaes Ross McLeod, John Thomas Jebb, Jeremiah Coffey and Gilbert Amos were appointed as trustees of ground set apart at Creswick as a site for a general cemetery, this being off the Clunes road at North Creswick.
It was not until December 20 1858 that the first burial took place, this being John James Bunyan, 2 yrs old.
March 12th 1869 an area of twenty five acres, one rood, thirty three perches was temporarily reserved and gazetted. In August 1869 improvements to the cemetery meant an extension of several acres more ground to the south, and a substantial iron rail fence with a blue stone basement being erected along the south side.
Have you ever wondered why the monumental section is so far from the road? Originally the gate to the cemetery was at the beginning of the monumental section. You will notice that there is a row of trees to the left that form an avenue along a track. This was the main road to the cemetery. There was also a sexton’s cottage on the site where the tin sheds now stand.
The long driveway has seen many changes over the years, originally it was planted with trees to form an avenue and after 1900 this was changed to lovely gardens the full length of the driveway.
In 1909 a permanent memorial was erected in the centre of the cemetery to remember those who perished in the Australasian Mine Disaster of 1882. Of the 22 miners that died on that fateful day 19 are buried at Creswick, two in the Old Ballarat Cemetery and one in the New Ballarat Cemetery.
As times changed so to did the facilities at the Cemetery. A Memorial wall for ashes was built in 1963 and extended in 1986 and in 2010 a rose garden for ashes has been established behind Lawn C. Over the coming years this area will be extended to the west side for more rose gardens.
In 1965 the lawn section was planned and over the next four years a water supply, paths and plinths for headstones were provided with the first burial in this section in 1969.
In 1953 thirty graves were set aside for returned servicemen and was dedicated in December of that year.
The first sexton of the New Cemetery in 1858 was Mr. Benjamin White until his death, his son then became sexton until 1886 when Mr. Robert Wall junr., took that role with a annual income of £120 with residence. His duties included keeping the grounds in good order and the whole of his time was to be given to his duties as sexton. With seven sexton’s since 1922 the last official sexton was Mr. A. Ellis who resigned his position in 1956. The sexton’s house was let out from 1955 until June 1969 when it was advertised for demolition or removal.
The cemetery has been run by trustees since 1858, all of whom have been volunteers until their death or resignation. Since 1995 all new trustees are gazetted for five year terms.
The current trustees in 2010 are: Mr. Kieran Moore chairman, Mr. Stan Johns, Mr. Stan Haintz, Mr. Darryl New, Mr. Frank Whitfield, Mr. Ian Huntley, Mr. Bernie Charleson, Mr. Ken Neil and Mrs. Wendy Ohlsen, Secretary
There have been over 12,200 burials since December 20 1858.