The cemetery is dominated by the former Catholic Mortuary Chapel opened in May 1936 by the Bishop of Maitland, the Most Reverend Dr E Gleeson.
Adjoining the Catholic chapel are areas set aside for Catholic clergy and nuns.
The old chapel is now available to any group for their own ceremony.
In 1924, the Goon Yick Society erected an octagonal pavilion as a focal point to the Chinese Section of the cemetery.
The structure currently provides a combination of aesthetic and functional requirements by providing shelter and assisting in the demarcation and identification of separate denominational areas.
It also supports Chinese cultural rituals.
To service an ever increasing demand for above ground burials for the community (particularly the Italian community) Sandgate Cemetery Trust embarked on the development of an above ground crypt area.
With assistance from the Italian community, the area has been tastefully designed and sale of both double and single crypts has been overwhelming.
A small, but exquisite, gatehouse was designed for the Church of England Cemetery by the notable architecture firm of Castleden and Sara in 1940.
Main entrances are located at two locations fronting the Pacific Highway.
Construction of the new entry gates and perimeter fencing as part of the 1997 DEET program meant that the cemetery was now secured from vehicle entry at night.
Desecration and destruction of cemetery property was significantly reduced.
A total of 1,230 servicemen and women are memorialized or buried in Sandgate Cemetery.
On the 16 April 2000 in the presence of two surviving Victoria Cross winners – Edward Kenna VC and Keith Payne VC the Jeffries Currey VC Memorial Wall was dedicated. Sir Roden Cutler VC was unable to be present and he sent an apology.
The memorial is a dedication to all returned service men and women interred in Sandgate Cemetery. Further, it particularly records the names of 192 local men who were lost in the Great War and who have no known grave. Their names are recorded on small plaques on family graves.
Erected by the Church of England trustees in 1907 and used for many years by the Anglican Trust sexton who used it as his home.
Today the federation style bungalow has been set aside for use as the administration and public reception area.
A special ‘Mortuary Station’ was built at Honeysuckle, Newcastle and most funerals that came from the city, used the special funeral trains that travelled regularly between the Mortuary Station and Sandgate.
By 1881 a daily funeral train service was in operation leaving Newcastle at 3:20pm and stopping at intermediate stations. In the quaint railway terminology of the day, “the corpse travelled free and friends of the corpse had a choice: two shillings first class return or one shilling second class return.”
The train service operated until 1987.
In 1942 after a visit from representatives of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, a further three acres of the infectious disease site was set aside for what was called a ‘Soldiers Cemetery’.
Before 1942, veterans had been buried at Sandgate, but without special provision for them.
This cemetery is not part of Sandgate Cemetery reserve but is a Commonwealth war graves site.
It seems hard to believe that for decades in Australia, women who lost their babies at birth were often told by their hospital or their church to forget all about them, that they never existed.
Yet thousands of women, many of them now in later life, are still quietly grieving. They carry the scars of never knowing the final resting place of their stillborn babies.
Up to the early 1980’s stillborns were taken from the mother at birth and interred at Sandgate most often without the mother even touching or viewing the child after birth.
Many of the children, other than surname, were unnamed. So with the establishment of the ‘Garden of Innocents’ came the final recognition for these babes.
The 29 May 1999 was a memorable day for those parents with stillborns in Sandgate and an emotional day for all those who attended.
The Board and the community are grateful for the contribution that was made by the Newcastle and Charlestown Rotary clubs in building this wonderful facility.