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Ann Street Morgue

Architect: James Balmain 1859

City of Hobsons Bay | H01

Building Description

Williamstown Morgue is a bluestone structure built in 1859 near Gem Pier, where the overflow from the autopsies could be swept into the sea. Bodies were encased in hessian bags and hung out of reach of rats. Re-erected at Ann Street in 1873, the morgue remained in use until 1921.

The former morgue is a unique reminder of a time when Williamstown was a thriving port town. The Georgian-style structure has only two doors: The entrance, and a door that opened onto the water. Bodies retrieved from the water or from visiting ships could be easily placed inside for autopsy, and at high tide, the morgue would be naturally cleaned by seawater. Ventilation was through open windows. The building contained a basic wooden autopsy table, a kerosene lantern and a small hand basin.

The morgue is the oldest surviving in Melbourne and the first morgue erected in Victoria.

What's On

You will be guided to the Morgue by the Seaworks Maritime Museum volunteers. The museum will also be open to guests over the weekend. The current area of the Seaworks site is 2.74 hectares. The former Port of Melbourne Authority ceased working from the site in 1993. Today Seaworks is a developing Maritime Entertainment Precinct which celebrates our rich maritime heritage.


82 Nelson Place, Williamstown 3016, Williamstown VIC


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