Monthly Archives: April 2019

29th April, 2019 History of Hull Cemeteries 21.

By the lay-out plans for Northern Cemetery (s.p.b.) walks and drives were to be at right angles ‘to avoid waste of space’. Initially three chapels were proposed but only one was built (see above), this giving the same accommodation as the chapel in Western Cemetery. The photo. above shows the original chapel (surviving, but I have not seen inside), a fine building of alternating brick and freestone walling with chapel clerestorey and statue niche immediately below the billet moulding at the eaves of the gable end wall. This chapel stands at the end of the tree-lined carriageway leading from the original entrance gates and cemetery-man’s lodge in the north-east quarter of the site.

As with all municipal cemetery sites the initial work on site was to install an effective drainage system to avoid the flooding of grave diggings (this especially so as all Hull’s municipal cemeteries were, like the rest of the town, on floodplain land). Deep drains were to be dug 27 feet apart with branch drains of agricultural pipes covered by clinker feeding into these, all draining into Cottingham Road sewer.

In February 1908 the Town Clerk and the Local Government Board were negotiating re the cost of using unskilled unemployed labour for the ground works at Northern Cemetery by the terms of the Unemployment Workmen Act, 1905. Such negotiations were relatively common at the time seasonal and long-term unemployment being common in the unskilled workers section of the Town’s workforce. If the L.G.B. agreed with a proposed scheme such employment would be organised by the local authority and the cost of worker’s wages refunded by central government.

Initially just 16 acres of the site, in the north-east sector, was to be used for burials, the remaining 56 acres, for the time being, to be laid to playing fields and rented-out for allotments and for grazing. Applications to rent  playing fields for firm’s sports teams soon were made.

28th April, 2019 History of Hull Cemeteries 20.

The photo above shows a section of the brick-built columbarium at Northern Cemetery, Hull. A Northern Cemetery website states that the Cemetery was first opened in 1915 so by study of the Corporation Burial Committee Minutes only tells the story of the early land acquisition as I am currently only up to 1908 (except for Castle Street disused burial site, s.p.b.s). The website dates the columbarium, and crematorium, to 1961.

The first mention of the site in the Minutes (see above) is from 1905, negotiations were ongoing re the purchase of land off Cottingham Road for burials. Again, apart from some ribbon development, this was an out-of-town site. It was proposed to buy 70 acres of land south of Cottingham Road at a cost of £150/acre. By the following year a problematic issue arose over road access to the site from Cottingham Road, this only the first of a number of obstacles raised by local landowners. A further problem was that certain local residents claimed the right to refuse the project because the law protected householders from living within 100 yards of a burial site. However, by invoking the terms of the Public Health (Interments) Act, 1879 it seems that the local authority could skirt this ruling.

By 1907 the Local Government Board (Central Government) had agreed to the ‘Salt Ings Lane’ site off Cottingham Road for the cemetery and to the borrowing of the necessary capital from the government, to be re-paid over 60 years. In the same year negotiations were ongoing with the steward of the two manors of Cottingham over the purchase of the land as well as the issue of ‘fog rents'(?). Later that year the Parks Superintendent was asked to submit a lay-out plan for the Cemetery site and by November the plan was accepted.

(to be continued).

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).