Monthly Archives: April 2019

24th April, 2019 History of Hull Cemeteries 19.

The photograph above shows the memorial (centre-right) in Hull’s Western Cemetery to the men killed in the R38 airship disaster of 24th August, 1921 (s.p.b.). Two front plaques list the names of the American servicemen one side and the British servicemen on the other. The memorial was erected (I believe) in 1923 and the stone remains pristine white.

As regards the issue of the relationship between Hull General Cemetery, in use 1847-1972, and Western Cemetery (s.p.b.s) the latter’s website states that in 1862 Hull City Board of Health acquired five acres of land from the Hull General Cemetery Co. and opened a ‘public burial ground’, this initially known as the Borough Cemetery. A relevant Wikipedia site adds that a chapel for Anglican rites was built on the site in 1862 and a chapel for Non-conformists in 1863. The relevant section of the reference O.S. map at Humber Historic Environment Record, Northumberland Avenue, Hull shows the locations of these two chapels which, unusually, were detached, but it is not clear which was which. Both have long been demolished (date unknown).

A Burial Committee (s.p.b.s) minute of January 1892 refers to a carriageway between Hull General Cemetery and the ‘old portion’ of Western Cemetery ‘purchased by the Corporation of the Company in 1862’ and requiring the Borough Engineer fix two gates in the fence between the two sites and that the ‘superintendent’ of Western Cemetery close the gates at the same time as those of  the General Cemetery (presumably the main gates facing Spring Bank West) were closed. In October 1892 it was agreed between the General Cemetery Company and the Corporation that the latter could use all paths and drives in the General Cemetery site for an agreed annual payment.

In September 1892 it was recorded that the average number of visitors to Western Cemetery across three successive Sundays was 1507, a figure which reinforces the notion of cemeteries as ‘places of resort’, more so as the ‘plantings would still have been in their early stages of growth.

23rd April, 2019 History of Hull Cemeteries 18.

The photograph shown above (taken from Wikipedia) was taken on 23rd June, 1921 and shows part of the first trial flight of the R38 airship which was of a type planned by Britain late in the Great war but taken over by the United States Navy in 1919. So what has this got to do with Hull Cemeteries(?). In Hull’s Western Cemetery is a monument to the men who died when the above airship buckled in speed trials over the Humber Estuary on 24th August, 1921 – 16 American servicemen, 28 British. These very large airships had amazing capabilities – a range of over 6000 miles flying at 22000 feet, staying in the air night and day, were powered by six water-cooled engines each driving a propeller and capable of speeds up to 70 m.p.h. They were therefore being developed for both military and civil purposes. The fatal accident over the Humber was the first of a number over the 1920s and early 1930s by which time aircraft were considered a more practical option. I am not sure whether the R38 was lifted by hydrogen (extremely dangerous in the event of fire) or helium. A picture of the memorial in Western Cemetery will following next blog as I cannot work-out how to include more than one picture.

21st April, 2019 History of Hull Cemeteries 17.

Early in 1889 the Burial Committee (s.p.b.s) appointed a chaplain on a yearly contract ‘for such interments as are not otherwise provided for’. Committee members also decided that the ‘New Cemetery’ (s.p.b.) should have built a urinal and w.c.s for men and women visiting the site, the resulting small building survives but is no longer in use.

My uncertainty as to the formal relationship between the Hull General Cemetery (see blog 25th March) and Western municipal Cemetery is made more so by a lengthy minute of Feb. 1889 stating that a fence had been put up between the two sites. However, there had been replanting and tidying in the H.G.C. site and that ‘thousands of un-numbered graves'(?) existed, this suggesting that the municipal authority then had some managerial role over the H.G.C. site.

Following recent epidemics it was also decided that anyone who died of an infectious disease the body was not to be taken into ‘Chapels in Cemeteries’.

By 1890, as with parks employees, friction arose over weekend duties and pay rates (see blogs History of Hull Parks). In that year Hull’s cemetery workmen asked for Saturday and Sunday work to be remunerated at ‘extra duty’ rate of pay. The Burial Committee agreed to this for Sundays but not for Saturday afternoons, this linking to the rise of team sports played on Saturday afternoons, increasingly in the municipal parks.

By 1890 there were the standard two chapels of rest on the Western Cemetery site.

21st April, 2019 History of Hull Cemeteries 16.

The picture above shows ‘The Cross of Sacrifice’, commemorating the soldiers from Hull in the Yorkshire Regiment who were killed in the Great War, sited near the centre of Western Cemetery (west of Chanterlands Avenue).

To continue coverage of the early development of Western Cemetery, Spring Bank West/Chanterlands Avenue, Hull and to repeat the point that the object of such case studies is to create a template against which the development of any municipal cemetery, anywhere in the country, may be compared as well as being interesting in itself.

Late in 1888 it was minuted (s.p.b.s) that the ‘New Cemetery’ was to be open to the public on Sundays from 1-4pm and that a ‘dozen seats with backs’ were priced-up for the New Cemetery. Given that burials had hardly started on the site, that paths had been laid-out and that ‘planting’ had taken place (the picture above shows how we today benefit from such) such provision could only have been determined on the basis that a cemetery was a recognised ‘place of resort’, a place for a walk, for fresh air and for conviviality. The point is reinforced by a list of proposed rules for the Cemetery site submitted by the Borough Engineer to the Burial Committee, one of the eight stating that the Cemetery was to be open to the public between 6am and sunset from 1st April to 30th September and between 8am and sunset across the winter months, adding that no person was to walk on the grass or interfere with the trees, plants and flowers. The propagation of the latter was, it was decided the following spring, to be facilitated by the putting-up of a greenhouse and potting shed on the site of ‘Western Cemetery’ (the first time this name was recorded).

The Burial Committee agreed to the Borough Surveyor’s rules except one, whereas the B.S. had recommended that ‘perambulators’ be not allowed in the Cemetery the Committee disagreed.

(To be continued).

19th April, 2019 History of Hull Cemeteries 15.

Continuing the story of the early history of Western Cemetery, Hull – in 1886 the Burial Committee minutes of the time record that the necessary drains and paths were laid-out across the site. Presumably this was across the whole site (either side of Chanterlands Avenue, see picture History of Hull Cemeteries 7), while in the following year the ‘planting’ was done, this referring to the planting of trees and shrubs across the site to make it a more agreeable place of resort (s.p.b.s). Also in 1887 the Borough Engineer submitted a plan for the ‘Entrance Lodge’ (survives, see picture above).

There remains in my mind some confusion over the connections between the Hull General Cemetery site (see H.of H. C.s 6) and the evolving municipal cemetery immediately west of it. For example, in 1888 it was agreed a road should be built from the ‘old’ to the ‘new’ cemetery. To do so required some moving of human remains, relatives of the interred were contacted and agreed to this being done so long as the new graves elsewhere were ‘capable of holding the usual full number of bodies'(?).

In the summer of 1888 an advertisement was posted for a superintendent and gardener for the ‘new cemetery’. It is not clear whether this was an advertisement for two men (and only men applied) or one with both skills, furthermore later references to ‘Superintendent’ refer to the man in overall charge of parks and cemeteries. Whichever was the case the Superintendent got the (new) house rent free, needed to be a ‘practical gardener’, was qualified to ‘keep books’ (accounts), not over 40 years of age and was required to provide ‘security’ of £100, a very considerable sum. Clearly the Corporation were looking for someone eager to climb the horticultural career ladder.

16th April, 2019 History of Hull’s Cemeteries 14.

The picture above shows a section of Western Cemetery taken in the part of the Cemetery west of Chanterlands Avenue and in the Committee Minutes (s.p.b.s) referred to as ‘new site’ (as opposed to ‘old site’ east of Chanterlands Avenue). The impact of the landscaping is much more impressive today than it must have been when the young trees were first planted.

By the early 1880s plans for a second municipal cemetery (second to Hedon Road, s.p.b.s) were well underway, west Hull needed a municipal cemetery as well as east Hull. By 1883 land on the north side of Spring Bank West (today) and immediately west of the Hull General Cemetery site (s.p.b.) had been purchased (as previously referenced the early history of the Hull General Cemetery Co. site has been written-up in five successive articles in the Hull Civic Society Newsletter between June 2016 and May 2018). As to be expected, this semi-rural site was then on the edge of town while to the west the land was crossed by the Hull-Scarborough rail line (the rail crossing now known as Walton Street crossing was then a rural crossing and before the rail track was a farm track later to become Chanterlands Avenue).

At the same time the municipal Parks Committee was searching for suitable sites for two municipal parks, one to the east of the town, one to the west. In 1883 a 40 acre site beside Walton Street (today) was chosen for the site of West Park, this land having been bought  by the Municipal Corporation from the North-Eastern Railway Co. in 1878.

By 1885 outline plans for ‘additional burial accommodation’ on Spring Bank (West) were finalised and in December 1885 the Borough Engineer submitted to the Burial Committee a proposed lay-out plan for the Western Cemetery.

West Park was to be a quarter of a mile south of the Western Cemetery.