The Friends of Blackburn Old Cemetery

Blackburn Old Cemetery is a 41 acre 160 year old historic burial site and local green space which has fallen into disrepair and is very badly neglected. The cemetery is now closed to new admissions (only open to interments within existing family plots) so generates no new revenue for the owners, in the absence of council resource and funding to maintain the site our small volunteer group do what we can with limited resource to maintain this large steeply shelved site.

Our prime objective for the project is to restore the area in such a way as to reduce as much as possible the need for regular intensive manual maintenance and to establish tools and processes to minimise the effort against any remaining necessary maintenance.

The initial stages of the project concentrate mainly on clearing and restoring large, massively overgrown and remote / difficult to reach sections. Last year we were grateful to receive an AVIVA award which provided essential tools and machinery to make this scrub clearance possible and we now continue to use this equipment to transport tools and remove waste products such as rhododendron and self seeded sycamore, bramble, ash and ivy, the restoration aims to be sensitive to local wildlife such as foxes, deer and birds that frequent the cemetery grounds and promotes beneficial wild plants supporting pollinating insects and bees.

The next phase.... Having now exposed some areas previously overgrown with scrub the next improvement stage is to restore and make safe the revealed masonry (gravestones), many of these are either toppled or broken making ride on mowing impossible and forcing impractical labour intensive strimming effort to keep it tidy. The main focus for this stage of the project (2017 / 2018 submission) is to contract specialist resource and equipment to re-erect these problem gravestones and level the ground for 'ride on' access thus reducing the future effort to maintain the grass and making it safer for visitors.
See Working Parties page for photos of completed/work in progress.
The continued success of the project and exposure through social media promotes community spirit and local ownership through regular 'open' volunteer days working with local people and 3rd party sector groups such as police cadets, school projects and the National Citizen Service (NCS), this involvement further engenders community pride and social interaction by bringing people together with a common goal. We also strive to develop our volunteers by providing training and by encouraging them to learn new skills 

Already in response to work carried out on our weekly volunteer days more local people are now using Blackburn Old cemetery as a green space to exercise, enjoy the wildlife and to appreciate the beauty of the environment. In addition there is now significant interest from families to trace their local history often with our help to locate long obscured family plots,
these enquiries come from many directions both local and national (even international, as far afield as USA, Canada and Australia), increasingly now local residents visit to keep their family plots maintained.

Members of the team are also involved with other local community groups such as Roe Lee park and St Gabriels church community area, to ensure that the equipment, skills and learning benefits the wider community.

To find out more about the group click on this link to our facebook page which we use primarily to post updates on the work carried out and keep in touch with our public, this regularly receives positive feedback and has avid followers from all over the world providing them with a link to their heritage and a welcome reminder of places they played as children.

© 2015 FoBOC
Community Web Kit provided free by BT