Memorials For Liverpool’s Catholic Cemeteries

There are two cemeteries in Liverpool which are reserved solely for the burial of members of the Roman Catholic faith.  Situated at Yew Tree in West Derby and Ford in Litherland, they are owned by the Archdiocese of Liverpool and have their own regulations which differ from those set by Liverpool city council.

By far the larger of the two Catholic cemeteries is at Ford, where over 350,000 are buried. This cemetery was opened in 1859 after Liverpool Corporation had ordered the closure of all central burial grounds. This led to Canon Newsham of St Anthony’s Church on Scotland Road being instrumental in arranging the purchase of the land for the Liverpool Catholic Burials Board. The much smaller Yew Tree cemetery was opened in 1893.

The Archdiocese has strict rules in respect of the memorials that are placed on graves in their cemeteries. The headstones must be no more than three feet six inches in height and the maximum width is three feet. Kerbsets are not allowed in either, although you may see some in Yew Tree as historically there was no grass there. This situation was eventually rectified though due to the problems with maintenance. Kerbsets may also be seen in Ford Cemetery on some of the very old graves.

Nowadays graves for new burials can only be purchased in Ford cemetery. Yew Tree cemetery only has provision for graves of cremated remains, but if you already have a plot there with additional space for a burial then this can be arranged. It is also possible for ashes to be interred in a family grave through the undertaker and the ArchdioOur Lady engraved on headstonecese.

In addition to the different rules, fees at the Archdiocese owned cemeteries vary to those run by Liverpool city council. However the six council administered cemeteries do all have Catholic burial sections containing a substantial number of graves. At Allerton for instance, 20% of those buried there are Roman Catholic. This means that if your loved one is buried here you are not so restricted in your choice of memorial as at Ford or Yew Tree.

Traditionally Catholic memorials would have a carved marble statue, a Saint or a cross on the memorial. Today Catholic families often request just a Saint, Our Lady or simple cross design for the memorial. Unfortunately marble statues are not as popular due to height restrictions within the cemeteries and also the fact that marble being a soft material makes it easy to vandalise.

If you require any further information about the graves in Ford or Yew Tree cemetery please contact Ursula at Sarsfield Memorials who will be happy to help with your enquiry.

Monumental Masons Versus Local Authorities

Knowsley council in Merseyside have this week announced that they will be providing memorial packages themselves, something which arguably gives them a cost advantage as they do not have to charge VAT.  They are not the only local authority to do this but before making use of their cheaper service, there are other factors that the customer should consider.

There will almost certainly be much less of a choice when it comes to ordering headstones from a council. This won’t necessarily just apply to the size and design of the memorial, but also the material and lettering styles. Questions are also raised as to whether local councils would add lettering to existing gravestones and if the style and finish will be the same as the original. Also, is the work guaranteed for any length of time and to what standards will the memorial be fixed to the ground?

It is unlikely that local authorities will employ their own masons and in all probability the work will be contracted out. Whereas with a monumental mason you will have dedicated point of contact who has the expertise to guide you through the process, with councils you could find yourself liaising with the grounds person or general administration assistant in the office.

When you deal with a monumental mason you will be given regular progress on the update of the memorial and can see it taking shape in the workshop. The work will be carried out by skilled craftsmen and in Sarsfield’s case to BRAMM standard (British Register of accredited Memorial Masons). We can also offer guarantees and insurance in relation to our work and cut lettering to existing memorials in the original style, whether it be hand cut, machine cut or sandblasted.

Sarsfield has been a family business spanning three generations since the 1940s and if you contact us we can guarantee a bespoke, professional, friendly and caring service. You can have a say in the design of your memorial and will be personally dealt with by Ursula from initial enquiry to installation and aftercare. If you would like to speak to us please contact us here and we will be able to discuss your requirements and provide a free no obligation quote.


Titanic Graves in Liverpool

A memorial to commemorate engine workers from the Titanic was unveiled one hundred years ago on 8th May 1916 at the Princes Landing Stage in Liverpool (image by Elliot Brown). The Grade II listed structure had been commissioned in 1912, the year the Titanic sank, but by 110677317536_3df55c6cf6_o916 further disasters at sea led to its dedication being broadened. It is officially called the Memorial to the Engine Room Heroes, but still commonly known as the Titanic Memorial.

Although the Titanic was built in Belfast and had sailed out of Southampton, the fact the White Star Line was based in Liverpool meant there were a number of crew members from the city on board, as well as some passengers. Around the city there are a number of graves of where people who were on board were buried or are remembered on the headstone.

One of the most senior crew members from Liverpool was Hugh McElroy, the ship’s purser. He failed to survive and his body was picked up by the rescue vessel Mackay-Bennett a week later and buried at sea. He is remembered on a family headstone at  Anfield cemetery. Also at Anfield a gravestone remembers Peter Sloan, the chief electrician, whose body was never knowingly recovered. The inscription reads ‘Also Peter, only son of the above who lost his life with other brave officers in Titanic disaster 15th April 1912, aged 31 years, faithful unto death.’

Kirkdale Cemetery has headstones remembering stewards Henry Ashe, who is buried in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Gordon Davies, whose body was not found. The chief officer Henry Wilde, another whose body was not found, is also henry wilde kirkdale2remembered on a gravestone there as is the carpenter John Maxwell. An inscription on the gravestone of his mother, father and sister states ‘John, eldest son of the above who was drowned through the foundering of the SS Titanic April 14th 1912 aged 29 years.’

Maxwell’s body was not found and neither was that of greaser Thomas McInerney. A 38 year old widower from Kirkdale, his name is on the headstone of his wife at the Liverpool Roman Catholic Cemetery in Ford. This cemetery also contains a memorial to another greaser, Thomas Fay who was 30 and left a widow and two children in Southampton.

One of the bodies that was recovered and brought back was first class passenger Alfred Rowe, who was on his way to visit a ranch he owned in Texas. He clung to a block of ice and froze to death, his body being picked up by the Mackay-Bennett and then shipped to Liverpool. He walfred rowe titanic survivor memorial toxteth cemetery (1)as buried in the family grave at Toxteth Park Cemetery amidst what the Daily Post described as ‘sorrowful scenes.’ This cemetery also contains a family grave with a dedication to William Farquharson, an engineer whose body was never knowingly recovered. Another body that was lost forever was that of Norman Harrison, an engineer who is remembered on a family gravestone at St John’s Church, Knotty Ash.

Finally. there are are two graves in Crosby remembering Titanic crew members. Clerk Austin Ashcroft is mentioned on a headstone at St Peters and St Paul Roman Catholic Church, while senior assistant engineer Bertie Wilson’s name is marked on his mother’s memorial in St Luke’s Church. There eventual whereabouts of both these crew members bodies was unknown.


One Piece Foundations

One-piece foundations mean that all of the memorial and kerbset sit on a reinforced concrete foundation, making it easier to re-align it if there is any movement in the ground.
If you are having kerbsets fitted we would always advise you to have them fixed on a one piece foundation and check with the mason that they are doing this. Have a look around the cemetery and look at the memorials fitted on one-piece foundations compared to those that are not and you will see the difference in standards.
Some masons fix memorials and kerbsets onto flagstones, but this is unsatisfactory as movement in the ground can cause subsidence. The reason flagstones are not so suitable is that it can take a long time to level the ground, the flagstones and then cement and level the kerbs. If and when movement in the ground occurs it makes it difficult to level everything, meaning that fixing this way can cause the kerbs to crack in half. Any subsequent costs of putting the situation right, which involves removing the kerbset, levelling the ground and re-fixing it, are inevitably met by the customer.
In contrast headstones with kerbsets that have been sited on one-piece foundations are more professional in their appearance. At Sarsfield Memorials we supply quality one-piece foundations at no extra cost, as we have sourced a supplier that can supply them in concrete or terrazzo to us. This reduces the work for our masons, allowing us to pass on the savings to the customer.
 Arabic grave stoneOn installation, the base and kerbset are uplifted about two to three inches above ground level with a one inch overhang all around (see example in photo) This means that the memorial is less likely to be damaged when grass is being cut and strimmed. This is the standard recommended by BRAMM (The British Register of Accredited Monumental Masons), of which Sarsfield is a member.
When we install one-piece foundations at Sarsfield we leave the grave looking neat, clean and tidy, as you would expect from professionals. If movement in the ground should occur within the first two years of fixing the memorial, then we will realign it free of charge providing you have followed our initial guidance regarding maintenance. We believe the product we are offering is a quality product, fixed to a recognised standard and as we value our customers we like to offer the best quality products and service.
Please contact us if you would like more information about one-piece foundations and we will be happy to discuss your requirements and provide a free no obligation quote.

Memorials of the May Blitz

Merseyside commemorates seventy five years of the May Blitz this month, when the Luftwaffe pounded Liverpool, Birkenhead, wallasey and Bootle for seven successive nights.

These weren’t the first bombs the area had endured during World Bootle Cemetery Blitz memorial (2)War II. There were fifty raids over a three month period over the autumn 1940, with one killing twenty two inmates at Walton gaol. The single worst incident came at Durning Road in Edge Hill on 28th November when 166 were killed when a shelter took a direct hit. Over three nights just before Christmas 365 were killed, including 74 at a shelter in Blackstock Gardens, with a memorial remembering them on nearby Vauxhall Road.

The May Blitz though saw an increased intensity of bombing with over 2,000 bombs dropped on both sides of the River Mersey over seven successive nights between the 1st and 7th of the month. 1,741 people were killed and 1,154 injured with many more left homeless. Of all the people who lost their lives during air raids on Merseyside in World War II, just under half of them did so in that one week in May. 409 of those who died were in Bootle, where a memorial stands on the site of the former chapel in Bootle Cemetery.

St Luke’s Church in the city centre was hit on the fifth night of the bombing and now stands as an empty shell in memoriam to all those killed. This was the second city centre church to be bombed in the war, the nave of St Nicholas Church on the waterfront having been hit the previous December. A statue now stands there of a boy playing with a toy plane, his mother beckoning him to come downstairs and seek shelter from the bombs.

Liverpool Cathedral had a near miss when a bomb pierced the roof of the south east transept but was deflected by an inner wall and exploded in mid air shattering several stained glass windows. A main target of the raids was the docks, where nearly half of the 144 cargo berths were put out of action. At Huskisson Dock, flames from a shed which had been hit spread to the SS Malakand which was carrying 1,000 tons of ammunition which exploded, killing four people. The subsequent fire burned for 74 hours and parts of the hull plating was found a mile away.

Amongst the casualties was stage and film actress Mary Lawson, a former lover of tennis star Fred Perry. She and her husband were killed when a bomb was dropped on  the house of a friend with whom she was staying in Bedford StrAnfield Cemetery Blitz memorialeet in Toxteth. They were both buried in Kirkdale Cemetery. A deeply personal tragedy took place in Dorothy Street in Edge Hill in the early hours of 4th May when the bodies of George Webb and his wife Sarah (age 61 and 59 respectively) were pulled from the rubble of their home. Their son George, a fireman, had been attending attending the tragic scene at Mill Road hospital, where 83 people were killed, only to return to his parents property to be greeted by his colleagues and such devastating news.

Mr and Mrs Webb were buried at West Derby Cemetery, but there were many victims of the May Blitz who were never identified, 373 of whom were amongst the 554 victims interred in a communal grave at Anfield Cemetery. The grAnfield Cemetery Blitz memorial - Copyave is 170 by 8 feet and cost £4,400 and the memorial that marks it was unveiled on 7th May 1951, ten years after the last night of bombing. The ceremony was unveiled by the Lord Mayor, Alderman H. D. Longbottom. The Daily Post reported that he told those gathered ‘The calamity of the Blitz brought us closer together. It would be a great thing today if we could recall the best of those tragic years.’ 75 years on,the victims of the May Blitz have never been forgotten and a commemoration service will take place at Liverpool Cathedral on 2nd May, hosted by Radio Merseyside.