7th May, 2019 History of Hull Cemeteries 23.

A couple of further comments on Eastern Cemetery, Preston Road, Hull;

As far as I know Eastern is the only Hull cemetery to have two areas dedicated to Muslim burials. The ‘old’ site (certainly in use up to the early 1970s), see above, is near the south-east corner of the Cemetery, the ‘new’ site is on the western side of the Cemetery. As I understand it Muslim burials traditionally were arranged so that the interred person faced Mecca, but as can be seen above not all the headstones have the same orientation, also, unless the inscriptions are on the reverse side of the headstone, the graves seem to face what would seem to be the opposite direction to Mecca! The traditional orientation of Christian graves was such that the interred face east, ‘each new day’, this orientation was usually followed with in-church burials but topographical issues in churchyards often resulted in burials not following this orientation.

Also Eastern Cemetery may be unique in openly celebrating its ‘celebs’. Arthur Lucan, 1885-1954, is commemorated in the chapel complex (s.p.b.) as well as being buried in the Cemetery. Having been brought-up in Boston, Lincs. Lucan became a music-hall and film star mostly by his portrayal of the comedy figure ‘Old Mother Riley’. Between 1937 and 1952 14 films were made that included the name ‘Mother Riley’ in the title. Lucan died of heart failure just before he was due to go on stage at the Tivoli Theatre, Paragon Street, Hull. This theatre was demolished in 1959 and a subsequent office block built on the site, now itself disused, is proposed to be converted to 58 in-town flats in the near future.

Also buried in Eastern Cemetery was/is Mick Ronson, 1946-1993. Ronson moved to nearby Greatfield post-war council estate with his family in the 1950s and before going to London for a second time to pursue his musical career worked for Hull City Council in East Park. Having been brought-up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) he died prematurely of cancer. The circular raised brick structure near the refreshment hut in Queens Gardens was created as a memorial stage, the elegant original cover now gone.

1st May, 2019 History of Hull Cemeteries 22.

The history of Hull’s Eastern Cemetery, beside Preston Road, being an inter-war development has not yet been covered by my research. The site is very well kept with a main carriageway from the mail gates to the two chapels complex seen above, and a rectangular network of paths radiating from either side. The ‘planting’ (s.p.b.s) examples the more restrained attitude towards this aspect of municipal cemeteries in the 20th century, although the avenue of ornamental trees beside the carriageway (see above) and further trees planted, mostly around the periphery, as well as the installation of a number of benches results in the site retaining a sense of ‘public resort’.

In the centre of the two chapel complex, built in 1931 and designed by the then City Architect, is a small open-air courtyard (‘trapezoidal cloister’), accessible when the building is open as is the porch (although not the chapels). On entering for the first time the novelty of the building’s arrangement is striking.

The chapel complex is Grade 11 listed by Historic England. The website posting of listed buildings can be a valuable source of information if the building cannot be accessed. The ‘site’ describes the exterior and interior in very precise architectural language. To make the point some phrases relating to the building are recorded here;

  • ‘brick with limestone banding’,
  • ‘striped neo-Romanesque style’,
  • ground plan is ‘abstracted butterfly plan with symmetrical chapels aligned with the main approach drive through the cemetery’,
  • ‘each chapel has a central nave lit by clerestorey windows and flanked by side aisles’,
  • ‘mainly red brick built in Flemish Stretcher bond with tapered stretchers forming round headed openings’.

All very clear when one is at the site.

The main entrance and porch faces the drive and set in the porch is an ornate memorial dedicated to the 62 men associated with The British Gas Light Co. Ltd. who were killed in the Great War.

(To be continued).

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.