North Road Cemetery was established in 1853, and was originally intended as the parish burial ground of Christ Church in North Adelaide. It achieved a greater significance, however, after Bishop Short, the first Anglican Bishop of Adelaide (1847-1882), surrendered the Anglican grant of land in the West TerraceCemetery in 1862.
Initially, it consisted of only two acres and was held in trust by Bishop Short. Its use was restricted to members of the Anglican faith and Christ Church Parishioners. The difficulties experienced at West Terrace Cemetery together with North Road’s proximity to Adelaide, soon made it popular with leading Anglican families.
Acquisition of Land
The original two acres were purchased by Bishop Augustus Short, the first Anglican Bishop of Adelaide (1847-1882), and consecrated by him in 1853. The land was later extended to four, eight, twelve, and finally eighteen acres.
On Bishop Short’s retirement in 1881, the cemetery passed into the control of the Synod and was managed by the North Road Cemetery Committee, a committee appointed triennially by the Standing Committee of Synod. After Mitcham Cemetery came under the control of North Road Cemetery in 1940, this Committee was known as the Synodal Cemeteries Committee. Also in 1881 the restriction to members of the Church of England residents in the parish of North Adelaide was lifted, but it was still required that those buried there were members of the Church of England and the form of service to be used was that of the Church of England.
This restriction, with some few exceptions, remained until recent times. In 1989, Archbishop Rainer, on advice from the Synodal Cemeteries Committee, decided to allow persons of all Christian denominations to be interred at North Road Cemetery.
The Main Driveway
In 1903, following the completion of the western wall, a wrought iron gate was constructed with impressive stone pillars at the North Road entrance to the Cemetery. Ash trees were planted along the main driveway leading up to the Chapel site. In 1905 the western entrance road was kerbed and extended around the new Chapel.
Bitumen was laid in 1938 extending from the main entrance through to D’Erlanger Avenue, and Jacaranda trees were planted along the eastern section of the driveway.
On 28th April 1905, the then Bishop, John Reginal Harmer, third Bishop of Adelaide (1895-1905) consecrated the chapel and the final portion of land. This was the land west of the chapel to the North Road entrance.
The chapel was built of stone and brick, with leaded windows, arched principals and a roof of Marseilles tiles. On the north side was an enclosure to contain the bier, which was visible by the mourners in the Chapel through a large semi-circular window. The total cost of the building and furnishings was £699 3s. 9d.
In 1963, a bequest of money was left to the cemetery by the family of the late Mr. A. Bohm to provide a mosaic memorial in the chapel. The well-known architect, Mr Dean Berry, was asked to arrange for a mosaic to be executed by Mr. Napier Waller depicting Christ at his Resurrection. The cost of the mosaic was £890. Napier Waller (1893-1972) was a WWI veteran who lost his right arm following wounds received at Bullecourt, France. During his rehabilitation he learned the art of ceramic and stained glass mosaic, all with his left hand. His other works include the mosaics and stained glass for the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. He was appointed O.B.E. in 1953, and C.M.G. in 1959.
Upon its completion, the mosaic was placed above the altar in the chapel. It was dedicated by Bishop Thomas Reed, the sixth Bishop and first Archbishop of Adelaide (1957-1975) on All Souls Day, 2 November 1965. At the same time the Bishop also dedicated the new Columbarium, which had been constructed in the original carriage enclosure on the north side of the chapel.
The Cemetery Office
The cemetery was originally run from the Church Office in Leigh Street, Adelaide. There was a small office on the northern boundary of the cemetery, which was little more than a tool shed. In 1885, the cottages on the corner of Cassie Street and D’erlanger Avenue, opposite the rear gates of the cemetery, were rented by the Church. At this time, Mr Bolitho, the gardener was appointed Sexton of the Cemetery and allowed to live in the cottages rent free. One room, however, was to be set aside for use as an office by officiating clergy. In 1938, the vacant land on the south side of Cemetery Avenue was purchased with the intention of the construction of a new office and car park on this site, but this never eventuated. Over time, number 31 Cassie Street became the residence of the Cemetery Manager, and the Head Gardener resided at number 29. These cottages were purchased from the Cemetery Funds in the 1911. The cottage at number 31 was eventually to become solely the Cemetery Office.
In 1993, an office and workshop were built on the northern boundary of the cemetery, and the cottages on Cassie Street were rented out. They were sold in 2013.
The Gazebo and Bell Tower
With the continued increase in demand for cremation sites, a new Cremation Rose Garden was designed by the Manager, Robin McKnight in 2000. A Gazebo with provision for interments of cremated remains was the centrepiece, surrounded by lawns and cremation gardens with rosebushes. A Bell Tower completed the design. It was suitably named the “Augustus Short Memorial Garden”. Construction commenced in 2000, and was completed in 2001. The Gazebo was consecrated by Archbishop Ian George, the ninth Bishop and third Archbishop of Adelaide (1991-2004), on 19 October 2001.