Oakleigh Pioneer Memorial Park - history
The former Oakleigh General Cemetery, now known as Oakleigh Pioneer Memorial Park, is located in the heart of a residential and shopping centre. But when first formed from a township reserve, it was bushland.
An Order-in-Council in 1859 set aside ten acres for a cemetery, bounded by what are now Warrigal Road, Atherton Road, Drummond Street and the Recreation Reserve. The first trustees were listed in the Government Gazette of 1860: Patrick William Niall, Richard McClure, Charles Nelson, William Head and Robert Glover Benson.
In 1909, an Order-in-Council discontinued the sale of new grave sites. Interments continued for holders of burial rights until 1960 when the cemetery was finally closed. Threats of closure had caused great controversy over many years. The Council of the City of Oakleigh was appointed as Trustee on 2 May 1961.
The records on the searchable database were compiled from the burial register. This register was filled in by the officer-in-charge as each burial occurred. Burials on the database date from 1860 – most of the first known burials in 1860 are of young children who died of now preventable causes: Christina Couper 7 years, William Dempsey 12 days old, Alice Chaundy 9 months, and Sam Street 9 years and his brother Arthur four years. There are 2298 names in the cemetery database.
Over the years the original allotment of land for the Cemetery has been reduced by the taking of land for such sites as a Post Office, the Council Chambers, the (RSL) Memorial Hall, Baby Health Centre (now demolished), Municipal Offices, Parks & Gardens, road widening, and Recreation Reserve extensions.
The then Oakleigh & District Historical Society requested protection of the area and Council responded in 1986 by providing for the formation of the Oakleigh Pioneer Cemetery Beautification Committee comprising Councillors, Municipal Officers, local MPs, interested residents and representatives of the Health Department of Victoria and the Ministry of Planning & Environment. In 1988 the cemetery was rededicated as a memorial park. The Committee continues today, as the Oakleigh Pioneer Memorial Park Advisory Committee, playing a key role in the retention, preservation and landscaping of this historic area of Oakleigh.
Contact person for the Oakleigh Pioneer Memorial Park is the secretary, Oakleigh Pioneer Memorial Park Advisory Committee through History Monash Inc. at the Monash Federation Centre, 3 Atherton Road, Oakleigh or through [email protected]