Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Memoranda

Memorandum by the Cemetery and Mortuary Service, London Borough of Brent (CEM 29)

  Thank you for your invitation to comment on Cemeteries. Here in Brent we have four cemeteries still open for new burials and two that are closed, although we are investigating the possible re-use of those two. I thought the best plan of action is to highlight each cemetery with its potential or its shortfallings. The Cemeteries are run within the Cemeteries & [HM Coroners] Mortuary Service and are part of the devolved management scheme. The staff are all in house after a review of the service in 1997, the service has progressed steadily each year since having total control over grave digging and maintenance. The budget from the council to run the cemeteries has been reduced each year since 1996 and to maintain and extend the services to meet the public demand, fees have had to rise [see Excel chart page 36].

  Rather than purchasing burial grounds further and further away from the community we serve our aim is to make the cemeteries truly regenerable and use existing spare space or by mounding areas where no burial rights exist or have expired.

Bob Langford,

Director of Cemeteries & Mortuary Service

Alperton Cemetery, Clifford Road, Alperton, Wembley, HA0 1AF

  Opened during the first World War, Alperton features a simple brick chapel with a welsh slate roof and beautiful stained windows. The 10 acre site lies between the Sudbury golf course and the Grand Union Canal. The cemetery includes a War Graves section which is maintained free by the Council for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

  The cost of a new grave for two is £1,246 with an interment fee of £299, unused areas of the cemetery were made into grave spaces in 1995 and these are estimated to last until 2005, because the cemetery is relatively new mounding of areas where burial rights have expired does not apply. It is important to note that a section was designated a number of years ago to allotments, if this was reclaimed an additional 500 graves could be produced which would keep the cemetery going until 2014 [£772k of income to the Council]. After 2014 old burial rights will start to expire.

  This cemetery is well maintained by three members of staff and was runner up in the National Cemetery of the Year Award 2000. The cemetery serves mainly Christian families, although there are sections for Hindu children.

  The Chapel is kept in very good condition although the decorative facing bricks are showing wear due to weathering and pollution.

  The Brent Cemetery Service has the following accreditations:

    —  Investors in People.

    —  The Charter for the Bereaved.

  Awaiting result from Chartermark December 2000. Iso14001 and Iso9002 assessment in May and June 2001 respectively.

Carpenders Park Cemetery, Oxhey Lane, near Watford, Hertfordshire

  Purchased by the Borough of Wembley in 1954, the cemetery is of lawn design with only bronze plaques permitted as memorials as stipulated by Hertfordshire County Council. The cemetery has 14 acres of mature woodlands with the Hartsbourne stream meandering through as a feature of its superbly landscape grounds. There is a lake and a pond that are havens to the moorhens, ducks, heron and kingfishers that reside there.

  The cemetery has catered for the Muslim community since 1980 with an additional section for Shiate Muslims opened in 1999. A woodland burial site was created in 1998. Carpenders Park is within the authority of Three Rivers Council and provides Brent with its reserve capacity for burials.

  The difficulty for Brent residents using this cemetery is the distance it is away from the Borough, no bus routes take you near there and the train station involves a 30 minute walk through woodlands that are not lit and not particularly safe for elderly people to manage. It is necessary therefore to visit the cemetery by car. Attempts have been made with bus companies to run a bus to the cemetery and have offered facilities for the bus to turn there with drivers able to use the toilets and refreshment facilities, but this apparently would not be profitable.

  The cost of a new grave for two is £390 with an interment fee of £299. All denominational needs are met including separate Suni and Shiate Muslim sections. It is estimated that the cemetery has 100 years of new graves with current legislation.

Paddington Cemetery, Willesden Lane, London NW6

  Paddington cemetery opened in 1855 and provides picturesque surroundings for the local explorer. Purchased from Westminster in 1986, Paddington provides a welcome 25 acre open space in a built-up area of the Borough.

  Five hundred mature trees populate the cemetery and there are formal bedding schemes and lawns, as well as wildlife areas with an enormous variety of wild flowers. Two Grade II listed buildings provide a centrepiece. These twin chapels built in the early 1850s are constructed from Kentish Ragstone and linked by arches.

  Many new graves have been located through detailed searches in the Burial Registers and further grave space has been located on a mounded area of common burial.

  Exclusive rights of burial are at £1,246 with each interment fee of £299. Cremated remains plots [half grave space minimum of eight urns or caskets] are available at £268. The Council's Asset Management scheme has identified £500 thousand worth of infrastructure repairs to the cemetery.

Willesden New Cemetery [1891], Franklyn Road, Willesden NW10

  Despite its name, Willesden New Cemetery was opened more than 100 years ago in 1891. It includes a memorial for the Civilian War dead from the Second World War; also the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's graves are maintained free of charge by the Council as a tribute to those who gave their lives serving their Country. The cemetery has become very popular with the West Indian community with over 80 per cent of the burials coming from that section of the community.

  The uniquely styled Renaissance Dutch Chapels were demolished in 1986, unlisted and falling into disrepair they needed £10,000 to repair subsidence in one corner. They were demolished without ceremony without retrieving the time capsules that were buried in 1891 for the sum of £12,000.

  The cemetery has virtually used up all the virgin ground and now areas of common burial are being mounded by three feet to accommodate new graves for two at a depth of seven feet. This practice will keep the cemetery open for many years to come and provides an environmentally friendly and cost effective method of avoiding sending clay spoil to landfill sites.

  Willesden New Cemetery Chapels demolished in 1986.

  Willesden has carried out 87,650 interments in its 109 years of existence.

  The cemetery covers an area of 26 acres.

  The four members of staff care for Willesden New Cemetery and Willesden Old Burial Ground.

Wembley Old Burial Ground, [Saint John's], High Road, Wembley

  The cemetery is around an acre in size and dates back to 1887, it was opened adjacent to the churchyard of St Mary's Church dating back to 1846. A War Graves section at the rear commemorates those who died in the First and Second World Wars. By the entrance is an unusual grey granite cross of sacrifice.

Willesden Old Burial Ground, [Saint Mary's], Neasden Lane, Willesden

  This cemetery dates back to 1868, the burial ground is adjacent to St Mary's Church, itself a fascinating piece of local history, built from Kentish Ragstone it is the oldest Parish Church in North West London dating back to 938 AD. The cemetery is reputedly the site of an old 17th century plague pit and haunted by a hooded monk dressed in white. The Old Burial Ground also has a natural woodland area that has been developed with the help of the London Wildlife Trust. The Old Burial Ground is currently being investigated to see if it is viable to re-use.

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Prepared 29 March 2001