Liverpool Crematorium, 1907

Liverpool Mercury 1907

Cremation in Liverpool

The future of Anfield Crematorium

In brief:-

The Liverpool Corporation will doubtless become the possessors of a crematorium. The municipality recently became the burial authority for this city and it follows as a matter of course that they will acquire the property belonging to the Liverpool Crematorium Company at Anfield. The final decision rests with the council, but, there is very little doubt, I am told, of the result, seeing as the company have offered the whole concern to the Corporation for £2,500, a “gift price,“ the land, indeed, cost £1,800 and no less than £8,800 has been expended on the buildings.

Prejudice is a difficult thing to overcome, and there has existed a good deal of prejudice against cremation. But, it is gradually dying out, and it seems natural that those who favour this mode of disposal of their dead should have equal opportunities.

The company is making the offer to the Burials Committee on such advantageous terms, and made a government condition, to the effect that the committee should make an enduring and persevering effort to present the system of cremation to the public. The progress of the movement, “ added the company, “ has been slower than had been expected, but taking the country as a whole it had been continuous and sooner or later the advantages would be realised.”

The company was not started with a money making object, but rather that the methods of cremations, which are looked upon as more sanitary than burial, might have a fair trial in Liverpool.

It is about 12yrs since the Liverpool Crematorium was erected on a piece of land adjoining Anfield Cemetery and the main entrance to the, “City of the dead,” is in Priory Rd. The actual Crematorium is attached to the chapel which has beneath it a spacious columbarium fitted with small niches, like pigeon holes, used as resting places for the urns holding the ashes of the dead, the niches are closed with marble slabs, bearing suitable inscriptions or decorative ornament. It is not compulsory for urns to be put in the chamber, relatives, if they prefer, can have the urns placed in a family vault or grave, or buried in the crematorium grounds.

The body in the coffin glides into the cremation chamber, the door is closed, and the heat is allowed to act upon the body, in a couple of hours there only remains in the chamber a quantity of white ash, the ashes are withdrawn, and with great care placed in an urn, the lid is cemented down in the presence of the relatives of the deceased.

It was in Italy in 1869 that the modern system of cremation was first carried out, Germany next adopted it and France followed suit in 1880. 5yrs afterwards a crematorium was erected at Woking where, between 1901 and 1904, 1,877 bodies where cremated.

The system was introduced to Manchester prior to it being adopted in this city.

The foundation stone of the Liverpool Crematorium was laid in August 1894 by Alderman BOWRING, then Lord Mayor of the city, two years later Lord Derby became chief magistrate and he performed the ceremony of declaring the crematorium open. He confessed at the time that the occasion was one upon which he spoke with some difficulty and also with great reserve. It was seen that his Lordship was not an ardent advocate of the disposal of the dead by fire and he did not hesitate to admit that the German phrase, “ God’s Acre.” was a pretty one, loved by many people, and conveyed the idea that the dead rested under the shadow of the church. These were matters of sentiment which exist in the minds of others and die hard as cremation becomes more general, the constant need for securing more cemeteries or extending old ones, will cease.

The graveyards when filled will not present such a difficult problem as to how to make them attractive say, by converting them into city gardens, without giving offence. We all know what this has meant in the past, while one party has called for beautifying the place, another has shrunk from the idea of disturbing the bodies and removing the stones of the last resting place of our friends. The whole question is surrounded by sentiment.

Perhaps it is better the remains are in urns that the remains in future can remain intact, than under the sod, where all sorts of things are possible, however careful the work of removing is carried out.

The members of the City Council have many burning questions to tackle, one wonders what they will make of this when they appear before their constituents to give an account of their stewardship. One who knows the game of politics, predicts trouble, and prophecies that councillors will look shyly at the Burials Committee, knowing they cannot become members if they cannot promise any great things to those whose votes they woo.

Cremation is now presented to us in a more advanced and more sanitary form, if it is the best way of dealing with this difficult problem, let us not throw difficulties in the way, it is being brought within the way of all who may desire it, the whole question is one for the City Council to decide on the recommendations of the Burial Committee, what ever is decided it will be in the best interest of the city.


Copyright 2002 / To date