We need a name for the new multipurpose facility at Dennis Reserve!

Council is inviting the Hobsons Bay community to propose a name for the new multipurpose facility on Dennis Reserve.

In order to provide the building with a suitable name that is supported by the local community and Council’s Naming Policy, suggested names must adhere to one or more of the following principals:

  • be appropriate to the local, indigenous, geographical, environmental or physical character
  • be of verifiable historical or cultural significance
  • be related to the local flora, fauna or landscape
  • be named after a benefactor, eminent person, pioneer or long-term land holder of verifiable significance.
  • be written in Australian English and should be easy to pronounce, spell, write and not exceed 25 characters.

A full copy of Councils Naming Policy can be found in our document Library (on the right) or by clicking here

The Dennis (Lyons Street) Reserve is one of the original reserves set side by the Government Survey plan for Williamstown, which are generally irregular shaped parcels of land created by the intersections of the various street grids. Dennis Reserve is located centrally within the suburb of Williamstown at the south western edge of the Williamstown major Activity Centre, which incorporates Douglas Parade, Ferguson Street and Nelson Place. The reserve is a triangular shape 1.38 hectare public reserve at the prominent gateway intersection of Melbourne road and Ferguson Street and is bordered by Ferguson Street, Melbourne Road and Lyons Street.

Dennis Reserve has functioned primarily as a sport and recreation reserve since the Edwardian Era. Dispersed between the buildings and sporting facilities there are some passive use areas including established exotic trees, grass areas, formal garden beds, seating, asphalt and gravel paths.

The current landscape setting and informal facilities support daytime uses such as children’ play, limited , small scale social gathering or meetings, rest, observation of tennis and connections and linkages across the reserve from the adjacent residential areas and Williamstown High School to the Williamstown Major Activity Centre, Williamstown North Station, local kindergarten and maternal and child health centre.

The origins of the design for the reserve are not known, however it was first established about 1885. Early Melbourne metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) plans show a reserve set aside for ‘Ornamental and Recreative purposes. The earliest plan from 1894 show the current Bowling Club green integrated into a form garden setting with the remainder o the reserve allocated to passive use with lawn area, garden beds and paths in the Victorian era style. This early path system includes a circuit path within the northern portion of the reserve.

Dennis Reserve later transitioned into a reserve primarily for formal sporting pursuits with the addition of tennis courts and the establishment of the ladies bowling club during the Edwardian era.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries Williamstown was considered a ‘resort town’ where people from the city would undertake various leisure pursuits. Promotion of such activity on a prominent gateway corner in Williamstown would have further illustrated this image to visitors.

Although the formal Victorian and Edwardian character of the reserve has diminished over the past century, the surviving elements which are considered to illustrate the development of the reserve and are compatible or related to the Victorian and Edwardian era character include:

  • The Coronation Lamp
  • The remnant mature trees
  • The men’s bowling green
  • The central pathway (Serpentine path)
  • The HR Maclean Memorial

Originally called the Lyons Street Reserve Dennis Reserve was renamed after former local Councillor and Mayor of the City of Williamstown. Cr J A Dennis was a member of the Williamstown Council from August 1914 until October 1943 and was twice mayor of the city. An elected representative of the Centre Ward of the City of Williamstown for 30 years. He had a strong sporting interest including football, cricket and swimming and was a trustee of the Williamstown Racing Club and the local Anzac Club and was president of the C.Y.M.S. He had close associations with a number of charities and was a life governor of six metropolitan hospitals.

A gas street lamp commemorating the Coronation of King Edward VII.

The lamp was originally unveiled near the North Williamstown railway station. Similar lamps were placed in the centre of major intersections commemorating the jubilee of Queen Victoria and the jubilee of Williamstown. The jubilee lamps were subsequently removed from their original locations as they were deemed major traffic hazards. A replica of an 1892 gas lamp in situ was restored on the Cole Street / Nelson Place roundabout as part of the Nelson Place restoration project.

The coronation lamp was lit in 1902 to commemorate the crowning of the King. It was relocated to the reserve in 1920 and is the sole surviving example of several lamps that were placed around Williamstown.

The front of the monument features 'Erected by the citizens of Williamstown as a tribute to the memory of H.R MacLean M.B.ET C.M. EDIN. Late A.I.F. 1915-1918. A native to this city. His life was one of devotion to the poor, sick and afflicted 1862 -1934. Unveiled by His Worship the Major (CR. J.T Cray) 26/5/35.

The monument is composed of polished granite blocks which have been secured together using mortar. It is set into the gravel covered ground. The top of the monument is mounted with a gas lamp composed of bronze housing and fittings and two pieces of yellow coloured glass which have been joined together to form a cover. The front side facing north west features lead lettering which has been coated with black oil paint.

Who was HR Maclean?

The monument commemorated local resident Dr H R Maclean, founder of the Williamstown Hospital and medical health officer for the municipality for more than 30 years. He served abroad with the Australian Imperial Force in World War 1.

The obituary for Dr Maclean, published in the Williamstown advertiser 1 September 1934 described him as a ‘wise physician, open hearted benefactor, loved friend of the people, true gentleman and public-spirited citizen.’ The son of DP Maclean, he was born in Williamstown and educated at Williamstown Grammar before studying in Edinburgh. He and his wife helped to found the Williamstown, Footscray and district hospital, and for 20 years he was medical officer of the shipping port, succeeding his father in this role. At the time of his death he was the city’s health officer and also a justice of the peace. On the day of his funeral flags were flown at half mast throughout the city in this honour.