We will be posting updates on the work being carried at the West Road Cemetery over the next few months. In the meantime our thanks to Len Franchetti, Derek Tulip, Eddie Graham and Ray Moore for being the driving force behind this project. Our thanks also to County Durham Community Foundation and Prudhoe Town Council for their financial support. Northumberland County Council who are providing a team of people from Groundwork to help clear the site, 3rd Regiment Horse Artillery and ESSITY who have provided teams of workers to help us with the heavier work. The work will continue into 2018 and we will continue to post updates.
Update 1 - 26 March 2017
Work on the site started on the site earlier in the year at the bottom of the cemetery to remove brambles and undergrowth. As we go inscriptions on the monuments are being recorded. The records for this cemetery were lost some time ago, so where we find a grave without a headstone this too is being recorded. Later on a plot number will be given. The work will take a long time to complete but thanks to our team of local volunteers we will endeavour to do what we can. Our enormous thanks to Ann Blackburn at Prudhoe Library and local volunteer Ray Moore for their invaluable support.
Photographs of the work and each grave are being taken in readiness for an exhibition at Prudhoe Library. We will add these to our webpage after the exhibition.
We have had 86 enquiries at the site and a local school are planning a site visit as soon as the site is safe. We have been inundated with requests for photographs by local residents. Society member, Brian Thompson, has been able to take some photographs for us which we hope to use in our exhibition.
The cemetery team are also working with Land of Oak and Iron and County Open Spaces Officer at Northumberland County Council to keep them updated on progress.
Update 2 - 4 April 2017
Video of the project
Is being compiled by two local schools boys - Bailey and Dan, who are using a drone to take footage from above the site. When completed, we will upload the full video for you to see.
How you can get involved
Work on the site generally takes place on Wednesday and Friday of each week between 10.00 am and 12.30. Do call in and talk to Len and Eddie to see what you can do to help.
We need to obtain permission from living relatives before we can take photographs of headstones and memorials. We are endeavouring to contact family members and have found some as far away as Canada and Australia.
Update 11 May 2017
Work To date
Initially the task of clearing the site was carried out manually by volunteers, with equipment loaned by NCC. However, the task was aided tremendously when we received the assistance of a team of workmen, with equipment, from Northumberland County Council. In a 4 day period they made significant inroads into clearing the site, as can be seen from some of the photographs above. This work greatly aided and enhanced the progress of the operation. The clearance work continues and at this present time there is also a need for weed control as the vegetation is regenerating with the onset of Spring/ Summer. The team will be continuing this work, meeting twice weekly (Wednesday/ Friday) and hope to have the site cleared within a short time. The final decision as to when public access will be permitted rests with NCC.
In tandem with the site clearance work, a programme of research has been conducted, primarily by one of our volunteers, Ray Moore, and the location of grave sites and the details of whom is interred within them has been , where ever possible, logged and noted.
There is still a significant amount of work to do on this and it is hampered to a large extent by the fact that a considerable number of the memorials are lying face down, making it impossible, at present, to read the inscriptions.
One of the pressing items, which must be addressed, is the acquisition of tools and equipment. At present we are totally dependent on the goodwill of NCC, but the availability of tools cannot always be guaranteed and the only way to be certain of having equipment available is to purchase our own. To finance this we have been fortunate in obtaining grant aid and will be pursuing other sources for further financial assistance in the future to help plan for the ongoing care and maintenance of the cemetery and for carrying out the research into the memorials.
We are also liaising with, and seeking the advice of other organisations such as SPAB, Caring For God’s Acre and other specialists in this field.
We are actively working to promote the project to the wider community, there is currently a display in the front window of one of Prudhoe’s business’s and we are liaising with Prudhoe Library with a view to having a display mounted within the library along with a supply of information leaflets.
Update 13 July 2017
Best new project
The cemetery team are delighted to announce that the project has been awarded a further grant of £250 by Northumberland County Council in recognition of the work they are doing to reclaim the site. They are dedicating the work in memory of Brian Thompson, our friend and former treasurer who passed away on 30th June 2017.
A further gift has arrived from County Councillor Gordon Stewart, which which the team are most grateful.
St. Mary Magdalene Cemetery - Interim Report August 2017
Work continues apace on the cemetery project with regular sessions every Wednesday & Friday and to date we have had good support from volunteers with between 6 and 12 people regularly turning up to assist. The major part of the site has been cleared of undergrowth and trees and shrubbery have been cut back to improve the overall appearance of the place and facilitate access to all parts of the cemetery although there is still quite a bit of work to do before the site can be fit for general access by the public.