A hidden gem in the heart of Maribyrnong may soon become a household name.

Jack’s Magazine, a former explosives magazine by the banks of the Maribyrnong River, is to receive a new lease on life under the eye of Working Heritage, a state government-appointed management committee tasked with restoring iconic heritage properties.

Built in 1876 to provide safe storage for gunpowder and explosives used in the goldfields, Jack’s Magazine later stored dangerous materials for nearby ammunition manufacturing.

The six-hectare site is the largest magazine complex built in Victoria, consisting of a series of bluestone and brick buildings, tunnels and tramways within a bluestone perimeter wall.

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The site is included in the Victorian Heritage Register but has been off limits to the public since being decommissioned in the 1990s.

Working Heritage acting executive officer Ross Turnbull said the aim was to find new community and commercial uses for the site.

“We’d like it to be opened up for the public to visit; it’s a very interesting place,” he said.

“What is interesting is the way its footprint and physical layout are determined by its purpose as a gunpowder magazine – it’s a little-known gem.”

Originally named the Saltwater River Powder Magazine, it was re-named Jack’s Magazine after foreman and keeper Wally Jack, who served at the site from World War I until 1943.

Working Heritage has appointed planners Tract Consultants to investigate potential uses for the site and community feedback will be sought in coming months.