Liverpool City Council has observed the 200-year anniversary of its historic cemetery, Liverpool Pioneers’ Memorial Park.
The Liverpool Pioneers’ Memorial Park was established as the second European burial ground in Liverpool in 1821. It was used as the main burial site in the area until 1958.
A ceremony was recently held to mark the significant occasion. Speakers at the ceremony included Liverpool Mayor, Wendy Waller; Major Simon Statton; Uncle Tony Scholes of Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council; Pastor Stuart Pearson of St Luke’s Anglican Church Liverpool and Jonathan Fearon, President of the Fellowship of First Fleeters.
In her speech, Mayor Waller said, “Liverpool Pioneers’ Memorial Park is a significant piece of our local heritage and provides a vital link to our past.”
Descendants of many of those buried at the park were in attendance and were invited to lay a white rose at the grave of their ancestor.
Archaeological work is currently being undertaken in partnership with the Office of Australian War Graves to locate at least 44 unmarked WWI graves and construct a permanent memorial at the site.
To mark its bicentenary there will also be an exhibition for the Liverpool Pioneers’ Memorial Park at the Liverpool Regional Museum, opening on 27 July.
History of Liverpool Pioneers’ Memorial Park
Richard Guise of Casula was the first burial at Liverpool Pioneers’ Memorial Park in April 1821.
It was the second European burial site established in Liverpool, replacing the waterlogged Old Burial Ground at the nearby location now known as Apex Park.
For well over a century, it was the main cemetery in Liverpool, until burials ceased there in 1958.
Established near St Luke’s Anglican Church, the site was also used for Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Wesleyan, and non-denominational burials.
Over 13,000 people were buried at the site, including at least four members of the First Fleet.
Burials at the park in the nineteenth century included significant figures in Liverpool’s early colonial history including: Thomas Moore, magistrate of Liverpool; James Badgery, pioneer pastoralist; and Mary Burnside, Head Matron of the Liverpool Benevolent Asylum.
Members of local institutions such as the Benevolent Asylum and the Male Orphan School were also buried there, many in unmarked graves.
During WWI and the years proceeding, servicemen who died at the Liverpool Military Camps were also buried at the cemetery.
Also buried there during the same period were German and Austrian internees who died while being detained at the Holsworthy internment camp. During 1961 to 1962 they were disinterred from Liverpool and reburied at a memorial cemetery at Tatura in Victoria.
In 1970 the cemetery was converted to a memorial park, which included the removal of a significant amount of the original headstones.
In 2010, Mayor Waller reopened Liverpool Pioneer’s Memorial Park, following the return of at least 440 headstones to their original location.