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The original grounds at the crematorium were laid out by the borough council’s staff and officially opened in February 1965. The total cost of the whole scheme was put at £96,000.
At that time the original garden layout consisted of lawned areas with trees and flowerbed details enclosed by beech hedging to create a formal approach to the main buildings.
Adjacent to this is the area of the first garden of remembrance with more shrubs and tree planting as well as a feature semi circle of Laburnum trees, which form an arched walkway.
There are 2 ponds by the chapel area, which are surrounded by formal paving with seats and near to this is an area of flower racks for use by the mourners.
The entire area of grounds consisted of approximately 12 acres, however, much of it was left as a field until 1993 when the council embarked on a huge landscaping project to create a new garden of remembrance, based on the idea of one garden to represent each month of the year, plus a babies garden.
It has taken until 2003 to complete the planting works around the new gardens, however, some of the costs involved have been recouped by a large increase in sponsorship from the public, for trees, plots of shrubs, planters or benches.
As an addition to the above the council has also commenced on the construction of a new cremated remains garden, which gives families the option of having a permanent traditional memorial for their loved ones. It is laid out in an attractive floral petal design and will be developed further each year as resources allow.
The site is used each year as an integral part of the council’s entry into the Britain in Bloom competition, and through this it has won several awards for high horticultural standards as well as the design and layout of the new gardens.
In the last 10 years it must be said that the crematorium grounds have changed beyond all recognition, and despite the site being rather cold and exposed the planting is establishing very well. It provides a highly regarded amenity area that must be recognised as a major asset to the borough and a great achievement by all the staff concerned.
The grounds are used by the public, both at the time of the cremation service, as well as for visiting as a place to contemplate, or just to remember lost loved ones.
Often this carries on for a considerable period of time, after the actual service, and it has been very pleasant to receive favourable comments from people who have been visiting over the past years, and have seen the development of the site at first hand.
By examining the results from the ‘bereavement service best value review’ it can be concluded that there is a high perception from the public that the gardens are well maintained.