Faced with heavy upkeep costs, declining income and increasing vandalism, the Municipal Services Committee decided in 1984 to close the Cemetery, clear away most of the memorials, and grass the site over. A campaign was started, led by Sylvia Barnard, and joined by local residents, relatives of the dead, ecologists and historians who united to oppose this plan, and in 1985 it was scrapped. It was agreed that the Friends of Beckett Street Cemetery, formed by Sylvia that year, would help and advise the officers of Leeds City Council in establishing a Management Plan which would ease maintenance and benefit wildlife in this heavily populated area.
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It is with great sadness that we report the death of our founder, Sylvia Barnard. She died after a short illness on 22nd July, at home and surrounded by her family.
Sylvia had stepped away from running the Friends some years ago, but was always hugely supportive of the current Committee, and generously allowed the Friends to receive royalties from her popular book, ‘To Prove I’m Not Forgot: Living and Dying in a Victorian City’
There will be a longer tribute to Sylvia in our next newsletter, - right now though, our thoughts are with her husband David, their children and grandchildren at this difficult time.
I visited Beckett Street Cemetery this week to locate this headstone for an enquirer. ...not often you get the same family on a Guinea Grave.
Was in the cemetery again yesterday a large bough has fallen off a tree at the top of Dissenters on the right - very close to where we were all standing the other day. Not certain if any damage has been done
It was good weather for a walk round, and Alun Pugh led a dozen visitors to a variety of graves. They highlighted some of the women buried there, and Alun told the story of each person and often, their family, - a mix of uplifting and poignant tales.
This is only the 2nd year of National Cemeteries Week, and we were pleased that the people our walk attracted had heard about it from a variety of sources, - our website, our newsletter, the City Council’s ‘Out & About’ brochure and word of mouth. It was the first time several of them had visited the Cemetery.
National Cemeteries Week is co-ordinated by the National Federation of Cemetery Friends, as a way of highlighting the work done by Friends groups across the country. So Friends led tours around ‘their’ cemetery, showing the work they do, telling the cemetery’s history and the stories of the people buried there.
Our Annual General Meeting was held on 28th April in the Teale Room of the Thackray Medical Museum. It was preceded by a stroll around the Cemetery, and members were particularly pleased to see first-hand the re-laid Anglican Walk and the new information boards.
The business section of the Meeting resulted in the following people being elected to the Committee: Chair, Alun Pugh; Secretary, Lynda Kitching; Treasurer, Bernard Towers; Website manager/Newsletter editor, Steve Miller; Membership Secretaries, Monica Chilton and Sylvia Hodges.
Following that, we had an illustrated talk from member Lesley Newnham, “William Heath: Railwayman and Poet”. We learned that Heath was born close to Beckett Street, and his parents are buried in the Cemetery. For reasons not clear, William emigrated to Canada. But he had fond memories of the area and wrote a rather rambling poem about it. It was brought to our attention by Karla Jarvis, a Canadian student, distantly related to William and she has the original manuscripts of his poetry. She and Lesley keep in touch and are working to discover more about William Heath.
National Cemeteries Week Walk #cemeteriesweek
Beckett Street Cemetery - Tuesday 15th May 2018. 10.30am to 11.30am Led by Alun Pugh, Chair of the Friends.
Opened in 1845 on open ground at the edge of town, the Leeds Burial Ground was laid out according to the conventions of the day – with half the site for the burial of Anglicans (Church of England) the other half for Non-Conformists, namely Methodists, Baptists, Catholics and those with no registered faith.
The Cemetery holds 180,000 people in 28,000 graves and is now closed to new burials. The Friends work with Leeds City Council to keep it fit for visitors and wildlife. It is listed Grade 2 on Historic England’s Parks & Gardens register and has merited a Leeds Civic Trust Blue Plaque.
All are welcome as we take a stroll around this historic, beautiful site. Come and learn about its history, some of the people buried there and events connected with it.
After what seems an age of fund raising and planning the newly cobbled Anglican Way was officially opened by the Leeds Lord Mayor, Councillor Jane Dowson. It was Thursday February 22nd. We were blessed with a fine but cold day, when we gathered in the cemetery at 10am. Representatives of the various charities and fund donors were present when after a short speech by our Lord Mayor the ribbon was duly cut and the path was declared officially open.
In addition the newly erected information board at the bottom of Anglican Way was also declared open. We have been fortunate to have 3 information boards erected as part of this work. Another by the North Lodge entrance and a further one at the back of the cemetery by the pedestrian entrance off Stoney Rock Lane.
The morning continued with a leisurely stroll around the cemetery paths and concluded at the North Lodge Gates.
We are so pleased to see this project completed and if you are passing do call in to see the results.
Thank you to all the people who attended our Remembrance day tour of some of our WW1 graves, which took place Sunday 12th November at 2pm.
Despite the very cold weather, 18 people turned up, who were guided through the cemetery by our Chairman Alun Pugh. The theme was Passchendaele and was concluded with a wreath laying at our Cross of Sacrifice and a minutes silence.
Some of the attendees took the opportunity to stay behind and find relatives.
Although this year`s theme was Passchendaele, one of the stories that was told was about Thankful Villages. This was a community where everyone who had gone to fight came back. As a blanket of grief shrouded thousands of communities the Thankful Villages experienced a different emotion...Shame!
In England & Wales there are 54 such communities some of which at Doubly Thankful as WW2 also ended with no loss of life in their community.
The phrase was coined ny Arthur Mee in his 1930`s books about Britain
Yorkshire has 5 the nearest to Leeds being Cundall [nr. Harrogate]
We popped into the cemetery over the weekend to see how the work is going on.
They have now completed the bulk of the repairs, with only a small section remaining. We will update you further when it is complete.
Why not bob into the cemetery on Sunday 12th November 2017 to try out the new path on Alun Pugh's Remembrance Day Walk.
After months of fund-raising and waiting, we were pleased to see that work started on 25th September to restore and re-lay Anglican Walk. It’s a labour-intensive project, and is expected to take 4 weeks to complete.
This work has only been made possible with the support of our sponsors.
The Heritage Days walks, on the weekend of the 9th and 10th of September 2017, saw over 80 visitors pass through the cemetery gates. As usual Alun arranged the weather to remain dry for the walk; with just the merest hint of rain. As in previous years, Alun provided the visitors with some fascinating facts about the cemetery and its inhabitants. There was even time to locate graves for some of the visitors.
For those who who like further information please drop us a line using the Online Form in the contacts section of this website.
Don't forget to fill in those membership forms.
Our project has been shortlisted for a public vote in Tesco’s Bags of Help initiative, - help us to win a top prize! Please tell your friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues, members of organisations that you belong to that we need their vote.
We’re raising money for the restoration of Anglican Walk, one of the main, historic pathways through the Cemetery. The stone setts have buckled over time and need re-laying, and we’re aiming for a £5000 award from Tesco’s charity towards the cost. BUT, - we need you to vote by dropping a counter into the box at the following stores, - a purchase of any amount will entitle you to a counter, and of course, you can shop there as often as you wish!
Since the Cemetery has been constantly under one threat or other since clearance was first proposed, we welcome new members to the Friends of Beckett Street Cemetery.