The management of memorials is an area of cemetery management that has traditionally received little attention over the years. This has now changed, as a result of a number of problems that have developed throughout the country.
All memorials must be fixed in the cemetery to the standard set by the NAMM Code of Ethics and Practice. This includes all foundations and fixings. A copy of the code is available for inspection at the cemetery office. Any memorial mason, who does not comply with these standards, is not permitted to carry out work within the cemeteries.
Many memorials had become unstable and pose a danger to those working in and visiting the cemeteries. Health & Safety in cemeteries managed by, or on behalf of local authorities, is enforced by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). Breaches identified during HSE inspections or investigations may be dealt with by advice, by enforcement notices or, ultimately, by prosecution.
The London Borough of Richmond cemeteries opened as early as 1839. There are memorials in place dating back to this time, which have never been inspected. It is estimated that there are over 40,000 memorials in the cemeteries.
The immediate concern was to make safe any dangerous memorials that could cause harm and possible fatal injury to visitors and staff in the cemeteries. These were laid flat and letters sent to the last known contact to advise them that their memorial was in need of repair. Very few people responded, and as a result there are many memorials within the cemetery grounds which still need to be re-fixed.
Following on from the very successful Adopt a Grave scheme in which memorials in memory of VC holders were restored, we have now secured the finance to reinstate some family memorials along the main paths into East Sheen, Twickenham and Teddington cemeteries. It is hoped that we will be able to continue this to the other two smaller cemeteries, Hampton and Old Mortlake Burial Ground. Several quotes were received from local Memorial Masons and orders have been raised for the following work to be put in hand.
46 crosses will be replaced onto the stepped bases, and some will be raised and levelled. All the work will be completed to NAMM standards.
23 memorials will be re-fixed. The majority are crosses onto bases, but some headstones and book type memorials will be replaced and made safe, all works being completed to NAMM standards.
34 memorials will be re-fixed. These include headstones and crosses replaced on the bases and secured to NAMM standards.
Following on from the above work, funding was obtained to enable memorials on the front two rows of the Hampton Cemetery at Holly Bush Lane to be re-instated. This work has now been completed.
With the remaining funding, it is hoped that additional memorials on the main paths within both Twickenham and Teddington Cemeteries will be re-fixed.