Gellibrand pile light finds her way back home

Seaworks CEO Glenn Jones with the Gellibrand pile light. Photo: Joe Mastroianni

By Goya Dmytryshchak

A Gellibrand lighthouse destroyed when hit by a ship in 1976 has returned home to Williamstown.

The National Trust has gifted the Gellibrand pile light to Seaworks and it was installed outside the back of the Nelson Place building late last week.

Built in 1906, the pile light guarded the point until it was struck by the ship Melbourne Trader in 1976, on the morning of June 21.

The fog horn on the pile light wasn’t operating when it was hit by the 7000-tonne vessel and left hanging precariously.

The harbourmaster of the day ordered the pile light be set on fire to reduce the risk to his men.

The Gellibrand pile light in its original location. Photo: National Trust

The lantern and dome were salvaged and donated to the National Trust by the Victorian Public Works Department in 1978.

For many years, the reconstructed pile light was on show at the Polly Woodside maritime museum in Port Melbourne.

Seaworks and many Williamstown residents have long rallied to bring her home.

Seaworks executive officer Glenn Jones said there was some restoration work yet to be carried out on the pile light.

“For what it’s been through, it’s in good condition,” he said. “I think if anyone gets set on fire and put into the bay, it’s looking good for that.

“It’s a nice story and I think a lot of people will be really thrilled to have it back home … this is quite an important piece for Williamstown.”

National Trust chief executive Simon Ambrose said he was delighted to see the pile light returned to the Seaworks precinct.

“We hope the historical, cultural and social significance of the navigation light, built in 1906, will be on display to many more at its new home in Williamstown,” he said.