Monthly Archives: March 2019

26th March, 2019. History of Hull’s Cemeteries, 7.

Following the adoptive Burial Acts of the 1850s, with later amending legislation, Hull Corporation established two large municipal cemeteries by the end of the century – Western Cemetery, Spring Bank West from 1861 and Hedon Road Cemetery from 1875.

Western Cemetery was in effect a continuation westward of the Hull General Cemetery site (see previous blog), although the two burial sites were separated by a fence. Sometimes called the Old Western Cemetery the municipal site stretched as far west as Chanterlands Avenue (now called). Late in 1884 the Corporation Burial Committee were seeking ‘additional burial accommodation’ and focused on farmland between the ‘old’ site and the Hull to Scarborough railway line. The ‘New’ Western Cemetery was opened in 1889. Early detailed O.S. maps for Hull show that these different sections of a linear burial area were laid-out with wide paths and the sites as they present today show that many, many trees and shrubs were planted to make these sites ‘green’ places of resort.

The picture above shows the view east through the entrance gates of the ‘New’ Western Cemetery to and entrance gate to the western part of the ‘Old’ Western Cemetery. It seems likely that a track was upgraded to the now Chanterlands Avenue at the same time while in March 1885 it was minuted that Walton Street railway crossing (nearby) was to be widened and the fencing and gateways in the ‘New’ section were to be like those at Hedon Road Cemetery. Later that year the Borough Engineer submitted a lay-out plan for the extension to Spring Bank Cemetery.

Over the following two years a drainage scheme was implemented across the site, paths were created, ‘planting’ took place (presumably the young trees and shrubs) and a new chapel (of rest) was planned as was an entrance lodge to house the cemetery-man (survives).

In 1888 a carriageway was created linking the ‘Old’ and ‘New’ sites (see picture above), this necessitating the removal of some graves and re-interment of the remains therein.

(To be continued).

25th March, 2019 History of Hull’s Cemeteries, 6.

By the late 18th century both of Hull’s then parish churches had had to have plots of land outside the then built-up areas consecrated for burials as the problems related to burials in their adjacent churchyards had become all but intolerable. The detached burial ground for Holy Trinity church was beside Castle Street (see recent blogs), that of St. Mary, Lowgate was north of North Walls in an area known as Trippett (a remnant of this detached burial ground remains immediately north of Freetown Way its last formal use being that of a garden beside the then Hull Registry Office).

Another alternative to detached burial grounds became a topic for national discussion in the second quarter of the 19th century. Joint-stock burial grounds were established near a number of cities in the 1830s on a model pioneered on the Continent, the sites being laid-out as places of resort. Such locations were often known as necropoli and were funded by a company created for the purpose financed by sale of shares to generally local people. In 1846/47 Hull got its first private enterprise cemetery, somewhat later than most other towns of comparable size, and henceforth known as Hull General Cemetery. Its linear east-west site was immediately north of what is now Spring Bank West, then beyond the built-up area of the town.

Under the heading ‘The Genesis of the Hull General Cemetery’ Peter Lowden published a series of five articles in the twice-yearly Newsletter of Hull Civic Society. In parts 1 and 2 (Hull Civic Soc. Newsletters June 2016 and June 2017) the author traced the mounting pressure for Hull to have a private cemetery, mostly from evidence in local newspapers of the time. The third article (Civic Soc. Newsletter, October 2017) dealt with the company’s preparations for the site, while articles 4 and 5 (Newsletter March 2018 and May 2018) dealt with the final creation of the site. The Cemetery survives, the active Friends of Hull General Cemetery may be contacted by email or by their facebook site.

The picture above is copied from the first article and was given the caption ‘The Spring Ditch with the Cemetery gates in 1846’. The lodge-house and gates no longer exist, When Chanterlands Av. was created/widened a new entrance was built off Spring Bank West (survives).

24th March, 2019. History of Hull’s Cemeteries, 5.

The picture above shows the surviving pedestrian access to the Castle Street disused burial site (s.p.b.s) looking across from the side of Railway Dock, this now moorings for pleasure craft. By the late 19th century the area of grass shown in the picture was a timber storage area on the dock-side, there are a couple of minutes (s.p.b.s) showing that occasionally the piles of timber slumped and damaged the disused burial ground’s perimeter wall.

By 1891/2 there is direct evidence in the Committee Minutes of formal collaboration between the Burials and Parks Committees to make disused burial grounds ‘become a little green, pleasant and even pretty retreat’.

Each year in the early 20th century the councillor members of the Parks and Burials Committee (now combined) visited and inspected the cemeteries, parks and disused burial grounds under their supervision. The minutes show that they generally found them to be in good condition especially the flower beds.

In 1912 a gauge to collect rain water (allowing records of precipitation to be kept), soot and other atmospheric deposits was fixed into the grass at Castle Street disused burial ground.

Direct references to the Castle Street site decline between the Wars but one from 1934 shows that the site was still then administered as a place of resort as it was to be open to the public on Sundays for six hours between May and September, the on-site attendant to be paid for a full eight-and-a-half hour shift.

For decades the City Mortuary was located in the north-east corner of the Castle Street site, this confirmed by map evidence from late-18th/early-19th century century town plans and late-19th/early-20th century detailed O.S. maps (all at the Hull History Centre). Previously, in the late 18th century the ‘goal’ had been there located. In 1954 a new City Mortuary was built in ‘an existing cemetery’ and in 1960 it was minuted that the medical officer of health had no further use for the ex-City Mortuary, Castle Street and the Parks Committee could now use the building. The building no longer exists and the site, beside a very busy road, is a green oasis with the mature trees planted in the 1890s, but is ill-kempt.

22nd March, 2019 History of Hull’s Cemeteries, 4.

To return, for a moment, to the Castle Street disused burial ground, Hull (closed for burials 1861, s.p.b.s), and to further the theme of the partnership between cemeteries and parks, it was minuted (Corporation, Miscellaneous Committees – Burial) in October 1887 that gardeners were to be appointed to ‘disused burial grounds in the borough’ and, with special reference to the Castle Street site, ‘so as to make it a more agreeable place of resort for the inhabitants’. Four years later (November 1891) the Committee decided to buy ten dozen young trees for planting in burial grounds and to build a greenhouse at the Castle Street site. Whether this was to be open to the public or just for gardeners to propagate plants for the flower beds is not clear.

In 1889 it was decided that the Castle Street burial ground should be kept open to the public until dusk during the summer months while the following year it was decided that the site should be closed to the public at 4pm on Saturdays (the Committee members were occasionally petitioned by members of the public and some organisations keen to maintain the principles of Sabbath Observance, also this was a time of pressure on employers to erode the six-day working week by reducing working hours on Saturdays).

This disused burial ground had a defined perimeter and an entrance gate(s) that could be closed and locked. The picture above shows a surviving section of its western brick wall now ivy-clad, a surviving headstone peeping through the undergrowth and a surviving ‘young tree’ of the 1890s.

Often bad weather must have deterred visitors from disused burial grounds, in 1892 it was decided to close the Castle Street site on Sundays over winter. Also illegible headstones were, at this time, removed to the side of the site.

(To be continued).

17th March, 2019. History of Hull’s Cemeteries, 3.

The picture above is taken from Neave, D. Lost Churches and Chapels of Hull (1991, 51) and shows a drawing by F.S. Smith of the Georgian church of St. Mary’s Church, Sculcoates built around 1759. The churchyard shown could well have been a quiet ‘place of resort’. The church building was demolished early in the Great War, although as was the case often with church demolitions the tower was left intact for a number of years, but the graveyard remains (now in a shabby condition) and was by the late 19th century a ‘disused burial ground’ in the care of Hull Corporation’s Cemetery Committee. Sculcoates had been a medieval village/parish to the north of Hull and it was only after the building of the ‘New Dock’ (Queen’s Gardens) that new streets to the north of the Dock spread into Sculcoates parish. It was in 1855 that the churchyards of St. Mary’s Sculcoates, Holy Trinity, Hull, St. Mary Lowgate, Hull and St. Peter’s, Drypool (east of the River Hull) were closed as was Trippett St. detached burial ground (s.p.b.) with Castle St. detached burial ground (s.p.b.) being closed six years later. All from then on became disused burial grounds and were managed by the Cemetery Committee as ‘places of resort’.

Cemetery Minutes at Hull History Centre show that in 1881 the ‘annual inspection’ of cemeteries and disused burial grounds in the care of this Municipal Committee involved a visit to; Holy Trinity ‘church ground’, Church Side, St. Mary’s church ground, Lowgate, Drypool church ground, Drypool Square, St. Mark’s church ground, St. Marks Street (see Lost Churches and Chapels of Hull, p. 58), Friends burial ground, Hodgson Street, St. Mary’s burial ground, Trippett, Sculcoates old church ground, Air Street (see above), the Board’s Ground, Hull General Cemetery (s.l.b.) and the ‘Hebrew’s burial ground’, Hessle Road.

(to be continued)

14th March, 2019. History of Hull’s Cemeteries, 2.

An additional point re the last blog’s consideration of the common features of public parks and municipal cemeteries is that in 1904 Kingston upon Hull Urban Sanitary Authority combined the two previously separate committees for Burials and Parks, henceforth known as the Parks and Burials Committee.

The picture above shows the south-west corner of Castle St. disused burial ground (s.p.b.), the steps giving access from the burial ground to the head of Railway Dock. The lamp-post just visible is one of two on the site recorded at the Humber Historic Environment Record, Northumberland Avenue, Hull, the record stating that there are ‘Two lamp-posts at Trinity Burial Ground, Hull’ … ‘rare examples of historic street furniture. Early-mid 19th century – fluted cast iron column, fluted cross-bar (lamplighter’s ladder rest), inverted bowl base set on an octagonal plinth. Fragment of lantern extant on only one’.

Castle St. detached burial ground was opened in 1783 and closed in 1861. Municipal minutes show that from 1870s onwards the Castle St. disused burial ground was taken under the control of the Parks Committee and managed so as to be, like a park, a place of resort for local inhabitants.

This detached burial ground was created because the churchyard immediately around Holy Trinity church had become so crammed with human remains that it would have been impossible to dig graves without unearthing quantities of skeletal remains. This had become a common problem in churchyards across the Land, certainly by the 18th century if not before. The two parish churches of Hull, Holy Trinity and St. Mary, Lowgate, had a particular problem in this respect as their churchyards were small and hemmed-in by later buildings. A detached burial ground for St. Mary’s was created north of the church in the Trippett area of the town. Both ‘full’ churchyards were henceforth overseen by the Parks Committee to provide places of resort for local people. Initially both Trippett and Castle St. detached burial grounds were sited outside the town’s built-up area, this was to change as the town expanded.