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.

At 14:00 hours, Sunday 13th November 2016 a small group assembled, near to the cenotaph, within the grounds of Beckett Street Cemetery. Although it was a cold, it remained dry, and did not deter those attendees from paying their respect.

Using information gathered as part of the WW1 Project (of those whom are buried or commemorated on family graves at the Cemetery), Alun Pugh led us around the curtilage of the grounds. Stopping at a number of graves, Alun provided us with information about the person who was remembered, before placing a cross on the grave as a mark of respect.

At the end of the tour, Monica placed the wreath on the cenotaph, and Lynda read a poem. This was followed by ‘two minutes’ of silence, where we reflected on those that had fallen.

For further information on some of the graves on the tour, please visit the following pages:-

The latest Friends of Beckett Street Cemetery Newsletter (Summer 2016) has been posted out to our members. Packed with updates and articles including:

  • John Wormald Appleyard
  • Subscriptions
  • AGM Report
  • Heritage Open Days 8th-11th September 2016
  • Diary Dates
  • Chairman's Corner
  • Edward Nickson 1900
  • Squire and Charles Thornton
  • Remembrance Day Walk (Battle of the Somme) - 13th Nov 2016

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The national festival of heritage, with over 100 events throughout Leeds. Go to www.heritageopendays.org.uk for full details.

At Beckett Street Cemetery, Alun Pugh will lead walks round on Sat 10th and Sun 11th 2pm for approx an hour. All welcome, just turn up.

Nearby, on Stoney Rock Lane, St Agnes Church will be open for visits. With its links to the Burmantofts Pottery company, its beautiful windows and a font full of fossils, it’s certainly worth a visit. Fri 9th and Sat 10th 11am – 4pm, Sun 11th 11am – 1pm (Service 11am-noon)

At the Burmantofts Street end of St Mary’s Lane, (behind the closed St Patrick’s Church) is Patrick Studios – home to East St Arts, which will be open for tours – see its regeneration including the custom-designed artists’ studios, and try something creative! Fri, Sat and Sun 2pm-6pm

Update: The first walk on Saturday 10th was attended by nearly 50 people. The weather was good and Alun provided the group with some really interesting information about Beckett Street Cemetery and those buried in it. He was also able to assist some attendees in locating family graves. (Photographs shows part of the group).

I took this picture on a lovely sunny day. The birds were singing, a couple of dog walkers were exercising their pooches, and Council staff were cutting the grass. This clump of bluebells is one of many throughout the Cemetery, - keen gardeners will notice that there is a mix of the delicate English bluebells and the sturdier Spanish, which are slowly taking over.

I was in the Cemetery to take pictures of some headstones, including that of John Carling, who I have just discovered was my gt-gt-grandfather, a policeman who had lived in Craven Street.

Lynda Kitching

Saturday 30th April at 2.15pm in the Teale Room at the Thackray Museum opposite the Cemetery.

We hope you can join us at this year’s Annual General Meeting, when you can find out what’s been happening during the past year and what’s planned for the year ahead.

Nominations with seconders are invited for Committee members and the specific roles of Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, web-site manager and Membership secretary. Please write to the Secretary, Lynda Kitching, 37 Shaw Lane Gardens, Guiseley, Leeds LS20 9JQ.

Our speaker this year will be Lesley Newnam, who we met through Wetherby U3A’s work for us with our WW1 project. Lesley has furthered this by researching musical connections within the Cemetery. Her talk is entitled, ‘The Actor, the Medic, the Singer and the Solicitor’ – sounds intriguing!

Before the meeting, why not take the opportunity to see for yourselves how the Cemetery is looking now? All are welcome as Alun leads a half hour walkabout at 1.30pm. Meet by the North Lodge.

As always, when attending the AGM, we can take advantage of parking cars for £4 and an invitation to look around the Museum beforehand. Hot drinks, lunches and snacks are available from the cafe. Why not make a day of it!

After waiting several months for the north entrance gates to be repaired and re-installed, the decision was taken to put up temporary gates to facilitate the entry/exit of wagons with heavy machinery, needed by the masons. They finally arrived after Christmas, so the area looks much better, but it remains to be seen how sturdy they prove to be.

Lynda has requested that they be painted black (especially the yellow gate-post!) and the top coated with anti-vandal paint.

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.