By Claire Ottaviano
THE grave sites of some of Perth’s early settlers, convicts and government officials have been safeguarded for the future after being listed on the State Register of Heritage Places.
Early graves in Guildford Cemetery joined nine other historic sites across the State, including the South Fremantle Power Station, as the newest additions to the register.
Inclusion in the register is reserved for buildings and sites with significant heritage value which have helped shape Western Australia’s story.
Metropolitan Cemeteries Board (MCB) spokesman Andrew Fox said two locations within the cemetery had been on the interim register for many years, with the process now formalised.
“The locations covered by the listing are very much traditional older burial areas – reflective of the time that has passed and they are potentially amongst the oldest in an operating cemetery within Perth,” he said.
“We have always known that there was particular historical significance attached to these two pockets within the cemetery and it is a positive outcome that the heritage classification has now been formalised and the heritage values of the area will be retained.”
The Guildford Cemetery was established in 1888 when other cemeteries in the Guildford Town became overcrowded.
One of the earliest recorded burials in Guildford was of Lieutenant Charles Heal who settled in Guildford in 1830 with wife Sarah and their five children.
He died in 1831.
He was buried at what is thought to be the original site of Guildford’s first cemetery located on the grounds of the now Guildford Grammar School.
There was also another cemetery on what is now known as Sweeting Street.
Both were closed in the 1890s with some burial sites and headstones moved to the new Guildford Cemetery on Kalamunda Road, which is why some headstones may be dated before the cemetery’s creation in 1888.
The cemetery was originally made-up of four separate denominational cemeteries that were amalgamated in 1937 under the Guildford Cemetery Board.
Care was later invested in the Municipality of Guildford and later the Shire of Swan when it amalgamated with the Town of Midland.
During this time many cemetery records were lost.
Some of those were reportedly uncovered years later under the Midland Town Hall staircase badly damaged by rot and insects.
Unfortunately, this meant the names of many buried in unmarked graves may never be known but it is hoped the heritage list registration will provide protection of existing sites and records into the future.
The Guildford Association’s Barbara Dundas was pleased by the heritage recognition of Guildford Cemetery but hoped the unregistered old site at Guildford Grammar School could also one day make the list.
“This is all that remains of one of WA’s first cemeteries,” she said.
“It is important to have the remains of this site recorded and protected as a significant part of Guildford and the State’s history.”
The two early grave areas at Guildford Cemetery will be named the Historic Precinct.