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Burial Ground – Lively Incidents At Official Inquiry – Sensational Statements

March 1908

Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Wednesday 11 March 1908

Burial Ground.
Lively Incidents At The Official Inquiry.
Keen Opposition.
Sensational Statements in Evidence.

Public interest was largely centred in Local Government Board inquiry held in the Council Chamber, Bolton-on-Dearne, yesterday, by Major J. Stewart, R.E., who heard evidence relative to the Council’s application for powers to extend the burial ground by the acquisition of land in Furlong Road and to borrow £1,439 for the purposes of the oroposed extensions.

The Council also sought sanction to borrow £500 for the laying out as a recreation ground of certain land at Goldthorpe. The inquiry was attended by members and officers of the Council, and a crowded audience of ratepayers. Mr. S. Roberts, jun., solicitor, of Sheffield, opposed on behalf of a number of ratepayers, as did Mr. J. H. Hollings (manager), on behalf of the Wath Main Colliery Company.

The proposed cemetery extension was first dealt with. Mr. J. Ledger Hawkesworth (clerk) in his opening statement said the population of the urban district was estimated at 6,600, against 3,327 at the last census. The number of burials the ground which was proposed to extend had increased from 39 in 1900 to 135 in 1907. The only other burial grounds were the Churchyard (St. Andrew’s), which was practically closed, with the usual exceptions, and acre of ground which formed an  extension to the Churchyard, acquired by the Constable land trustees in 1899, since when about 90 burials had taken place in it.

In reply to Mr. Roberts, the Clerk said it was true that one of the vendors of the land was a member of the Council.

Dr. F. J. Burman, medical officer of health to the Council, said the present cemetery would serve for about six more years, and the extension would provide for a further 12 or 13 years.

Mr. J. W. Wilson, the surveyor, having given evidence, Councillor Probert was called. In supporting the application, he said the Bolton Cemetery was a scandalous disgrace.”

Mr. Henry Cutts, the Chairman of the Council, also supported the application, and a ratepayer named H. Garbutt, interposing, gave similar evidence.

The Opposition.

Mr. Roberts, speaking in opposition, urged that there would in the near future be plenty of accommodation in the existing burial grounds in the neighbourhood. At Goldthorpe two acres of land had been given for ecclesiastical purposes, which included those of a burial ground, and it was intended that this land should be used burial ground. If sanction was obtained, it was proposed to erect a temporary chapel, which could be used until sufficient money had been obtained to erect a permanent Church.

At Bolton, too, there was the church burial ground, where up to the present time only 91 interments had taken place. It had been said that the ground was wet, but as matter of fact it was perfectly dry- There had been, he believed, intimidation in the village against people who desired to bury their dead in that ground.

The Rev. E. H. P. Spooner, the Vicar of Bolton, supported Mr. Roberts’ statement. He told the Inspector that it was because of his action that the Archbishop refused to consecrate a portion of the cemetery- He had written to him pointing out that there was plenty of open consecrated ground. “These people,” added the speaker, while professing peace, were “peaceably robbing him his fees.”

Mr. Hawks worth; I have a letter here from the Archbishop, in which he states that after inquiry into the circumstances he was not inclined to consecrate the part of the new cemetery because there was no chapel.

Mr. Spooner: But the chapel was promise.

Mr. Hawksworth: Excuse me, it was not.

Mr. George Hickinson, land agent and architect, who also gave evidence, said every influence had been used to prevent people from burying their dead in the Church portion.

The Rev. H. S. Spooner, curate, Mr. Horne, Mr. Duke, and Dr. Thom also gave evidence. Mr. Hollings, opposing for the Wath Main Colliery Company, who, said, paid one-half of the rates, urged that there was already sufficient accommodation for many years come.

Lively Passages.

A Mr. “Williams, a resident of Goldthorpe, spoke in support of the application. He declared he had attended one funeral at Bolton, when the coffin was covered with water. If it had been a relative of his would have had the corpse taken home again. (Sensation.)

* A Voice: I’ll bet you £25 £1 minute. There has only been one grave with water it.

Another Voice: You’re a liar.—And you are one.

The proceedings were very animated for a time, until the Inspector reproved the excited parties.

The inquiry was then concluded, the Inspector, accompanied by a large following, proceeding so investigate the proposed extension.

Later, he took formal evidence in the Council’s further application the proposed recreation ground at Goldthorpe, the land for which has been given Lord Halifax, who was much interested in the district. The site consisted 6 acree, 8 roods, 8 2-3 perches