An iconic Gellibrand lighthouse destroyed when hit by a ship in 1976 is returning to Williamstown.

The National Trust has gifted the Gellibrand Pile Light to Seaworks – it will return to Williamstown in a community parade on August 31.

The date will also mark the official opening of a $3million upgrade to Seaworks.

Built in 1906, the pile light guarded the point until it was struck by the ship Melbourne Trader in 1976 before it was set ablaze.

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 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 chairman Trevor Huggard said the pile light’s return was timely given the recent upgrade to the maritime precinct.

“This was no ordinary navigation light – it was Williamstown’s own Gellibrand light,” he said. “It was manned by tough men and their wives and children who were Williamstown residents. Descendants still live in Williamstown today.

“Many words were written about it, including Down by the Gellibrand Light, a ditty that could be heard loudly echoing from the nearby football ground every time Williamstown had a victory.”

Seaworks Foundation is collecting community stories about the Gellibrand Pile Light and Hobsons Bay council will host sessions for people to share their memories. If you have stories, photographs or documents to share, contact arts@hobsonsbay.vic.gov.au or 9932 1256.

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