Creation of Nottingham’s out-of-town Cemeteries

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Church (Rock) Cemetery. Photo: J Mills

Under an Act of Parliament, in 1836 the Town Council of Nottingham was required to sell land to the newly formed General Cemetery Company to develop a new Cemetery for the Town. Following some negotiations, three ‘Windmill Closes situate in the Sand Field’ adjacent to Sion Hill (Canning Circus) were sold to the Company for £251 1s 4d.  A further three acres (or possibly slightly more) were acquired in 1839-40 to provide burial plots for the poorer members of the parish.  The Cemetery Company explained that ‘ the number of the poorer classes interred in the Cemetery have greatly exceeded the expectations originally formed – the part of the present ground allowed and fitted for the lowest scale of payment is nearly already filled’.

Ten years later, 1849, the Town’s Sanitary Committee reported that 6579 burials had taken place in the ‘Proprietary Cemetery’.  Forty years after that the Town’s Burials Committee began to raise the alarm that the Cemetery would soon become ‘unavailable’ because of the number of burials each year; in the four years between 1874 and 1878, the number of burials ranged from 1733 to 2038 per year.  Furthermore, the site had become ‘inappropriate’ due to the number of houses that had ‘sprung-up’ since it was laid out.

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St Ann’s Valley: Photo J Mills

The Church Cemetery and the Dissenters Cemetery were both created as part of the 1845 Enclosure Act.  Initially they were both run by separate groups of Trustees on behalf of the Council, but in 1856 the Nottingham Church Cemetery Company was formed, and the Church Cemetery Trustees were replaced by Company Directors.  Like the General Cemetery, it soon came under pressure from the number of burials; in 1879 the death rate was estimated to be approximately 4140 per year, and that pressure would only increase if the General Cemetery closed.

This high death rate was, of course, partly as a result of the poor living conditions in the older sections of the town, though the Sanitary Committee’s efforts to improve these gained momentum across the century.  The pressure on the new Cemeteries was not alleviated by the closure of the inter-mural cemeteries in 1856, the rapidly growing population, and the expansion of the Borough Extension of 1878 when Sneinton, Lenton, Radford, Basford, Bulwell, and areas to the South of Nottingham as far as Trent Bridge were incorporated into the town.  A consequence of this expansion was the development of new cemeteries at Bulwell and on the South East side of Loughborough Road at the end of the century.

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