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EARLY HISTORY

13 August 1863 a Public Meeting of the residents of Balmain was convened at the School of Arts, Darling Street Balmain to discuss a movement for a local cemetery. The meeting resolved that a public cemetery, for the internment of the dead, should be established within the municipality of Balmain. The Government was in full agreement on the condition that a majority of the residence was in favour of the proposed burying-ground.

The formation of a Protestant Cemetery, Balmain Road was recommended by the City Health Officer in his Quarterly Report, September 1866. The regulations would be similar to those of Camperdown Cemetery. Henry Graham remarked that a cemetery maybe formed at Balmain as there were five churches of different denominations and the population was 4,000 and that as there were plenty of places on the bay for a cemetery.

2 May 1868 Robert Stewart Undertaker and William Carss Gentleman purchased Lot 4, Section 3 (Vol 66 Folio 218) in Deposit Plan 36 as joint tenants. Thirteen days later on 15 May 1868 William Carss, Gentleman; Michael Metcalfe, Custom House Agent; William Patten, Freeholder; Robert Stewart, Undertaker; and Josiah Richard Treeve Auctioneer became joint tenants of Lot 4, Section 3 (Vol 106 Folio 102) in Deposit Plan 36. These five people formed Balmain Cemetery Company.

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The Balmain Cemetery Act, 1881 enabled burials to take place between the hours of 8am and 5pm on the land near the Balmain Road which belonged to the Company except for 60 feet from the boundaries. It was stipulated that each grave should be at least 7 feet deep; only one adult should be interred in any one grave unless they belonged to the same family in which case two adults could be placed in the same grave. Each grave was to be separated from neighbouring graves by at least three feet. These requirements did not apply to land within the cemetery which had been sold prior to 1 August, 1881. The Balmain Cemetery Act, 1881 was repealed by the Old Balmain (Leichhardt) Cemetery Act 1941 (Act No 12, 1941) which abolished the cemetery and converted the land into a public park “as a rest park and garden area” to be managed by Leichhardt Council as trustees.

Under this last Act Leichhardt Council shall be trustees of the said land for all purposes of that Act and shall be deemed to have been appointed pursuant to that Act to be the trustees of the said land within the true meaning of the Public Parks Act, 1912. Leichhardt Council were also directed to as soon as practicable after the commencement of this Act compile an index plan and register of the names of and other relevant information in respect of persons buried in the said land, so far as such names and information could be obtained.

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