Back in the late 1960s, Liverpool Council announced plans to stop selling new grave plots at Anfield Cemetery, the largest in the city. They never went ahead however, with Sarsfield Memorials being very vocal in their opposition to such a move.
In November 1968 a report was presented to the Parks Department stating that there was not enough open space in the city. With the cemeteries account running at a deficit, it was recommended that the provision of new grave plots should be focused on Allerton and Everton cemeteries. Remaining space at Anfield Cemetery could then be converted for recreational use. One of the factors taken into consideration was the rock beneath Anfield Cemetery, which made graves more difficult to excavate.
Terry Sarsfield, who was then secretary of the Merseyside branch of the National Association of Master Monumental Masons, criticised the move. He told the Liverpool Echo on 6th January 1969 that there was sufficient land to provide new burials for twenty years. Dismissing the council’s concession that existing graves could still be opened for interments, Terry pointed out that some plots would be full but people would still want to be buried in the same cemetery as their family members.
Two weeks later, Terry went further with his criticism. He had a letter published in the Echo on 20th January 1969 asking if it was the eventual intention to remove all memorials and convert the whole cemetery to an open park. Terry also dismissed the suggestion that rock was a justification to justify the action. He pointed out that it only took half an hour more to excavate a grave there and that as Anfield’s losses were far smaller than four of the other five city cemeteries, yet the council intended to deprive itself of much needed income.
The only non critical element of Terry’s letter was his noting that the special burial provisions for Mohameddan and Chinese graves would be transferred to Everton Cemetery. However he finished the letter with one last swipe, saying that no action had been taken to investigate the staining of graves peculiar to Anfield, which he believed was down to industrial fallout.
Liverpool Council pressed ahead with their plans, seeking an Act of Parliament which also included stopping the sale of new graves at Kirkdale and Toxteth cemeteries. They eventually performed a u-turn however. Today new graves continue to be made availaable at Anfield which is one of the largest municipal cemeteries in Europe.