Seaworks Maritime Museum and Discovery Centre

Seaworks Maritime Museum and Discovery Centre

The Maritime Museum has an impressive collection of artifacts, models and bells to showcase the stories of maritime history of the Port of Melbourne.

Exhibitions include the First Fleet, prison hulks, Melbourne Harbour Trust and the Colonial Navy, as well as an extensive library and photograph collection. The Maritime Museum welcomes school and community groups.

Developing the Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum was officially opened in January 2011 to become a unique and significant collection of maritime artefacts. In November 2010 the National Trust announced an auction of many of the objects which had been placed in storage following the demolition of the Melbourne Maritime Museum to make way for the extensions to the Melbourne Exhibition Centre next to the Polly Woodside.

Following a publicity and fund raising campaign, the original Seaworks collection was purchased at the National Trust auction. Prior to the auction, many other items were donated including seven exquisite shipbuilders models from Svitzer Australia. Port of Melbourne Corporation donated items including the Melbourne Harbour Trust Honour Board and many gifts received from visiting ships over many years. The collection continues to expand with new and improved displays being developed to tell many of the amazing stories surrounding the Seaworks site, Williamstown and the Port of Melbourne.

The Maritime Museums of Victoria (MMV) is the Victorian State representative body for 17 Melbourne and Regional maritime museums of which Seaworks Maritime Museum is a member.

There is more to see than just the Maritime Museum at Seaworks. Following separation from NSW in 1851, the site was the base for new Victorian Colonial Navy and Melbourne Harbour Trust shipyards leaving a legacy of heritage listed piers, slipways and buildings including:


Built in 1859, the original morgue was relocated in 1873.


Originally built on North Wharf in 1887-88 and relocated and reconstructed at Melbourne Harbour Trust in Williamstown in 1922 (now Seaworks).


Includes Workshops Jetty which was built in 1942 in place of the original Wright's Patent Slip. Boyd Pier was built in 1920's.


The original 1850's Wrights Slip was replaced with Slipway No.2 in 1942.

The Morgue

The Williamstown morgue was built in 1859. Prior to its construction, bodies were stored in hotel cellars. The Deputy Coroner, Dr Wilkins, demanded for a morgue to be constructed and in 1859 Williamstown Council accepted the tender.

The Williamstown morgue was designed by James Balmain and built by HR Thomas and HR Hunt. Reputedly convict and prison labour cut the bluestone at Point Gellibrand. The morgue originally stood on the water's edge which the Commonwealth Reserve occupies today.

Lime was used to bind the mortar and the roof was made of slate. The morgue has two doors. Originally, the front door opened onto the water. At high tide, the morgue would be naturally cleaned by seawater. The only ventilation was the open windows you see today. The building contained a basic wooden autopsy table, a kerosene lantern and a small hand basin.

Due to its prominent location, the Public Works Department requested the morgue to be moved and reconstructed on its present site in Ann Street, Williamstown, in 1874.

Some reports state that the morgue was relocated twice before being reconstructed in Ann Street.

The morgue is the oldest surviving in Melbourne and the first morgue erected in Victoria. It is also one of the oldest buildings in Williamstown.

Statement of Significance

The Morgue is registered with The National Trust (B1628)

Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) H1512 and Hobson's Bay City Council.

The former Williamstown Morgue is a bluestone structure first erected in 1859 near the Gem Pier and removed twice subsequently, in 1873 to its present site. Single-storied, the morgue is constructed of random coursed masonry and has a hipped corrugated iron roof, originally clad in slate. The arched entrance has rusticated voussoirs, prominent key-stone and a stone lintel.

The former Morgue is an early structure important architecturally but more especially for its role in the history of the historic port of Williamstown. This structure is believed to be the first morgue erected in Victoria. The former morgue is an unique reminder of the era when Williamstown was a thriving port town, from almost the earliest years of settlement in Victoria. Architecturally the simple Georgian style structure is an unique example of a morgue.

Former Morgue is located in the depot of the Ports and Harbours Department and has been variously used, mostly as a store.

❊ What's On ❊

Seaworks Maritime Museum - Open & Tickets

❊ Location ❊

 Seaworks | Maritime Precinct [ view ]
 82 Nelson Place Williamstown Victoria 3016 View Map
 Telephone: (03) 9397 8528 - Advertising enquiries only

82 Nelson PlaceWilliamstownVictoria(03) 9397 8528 - Advertising enquiries only

❊ Web Links ❊

Seaworks Maritime Museum and Discovery Centre

❊ Also See.. ❊

Seaworks | Maritime Precinct

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Seaworks Maritime Museum and Discovery Centre