1935 – present

By 1935 the Cemetery Company was struggling to meet its obligations and requested that the Town Council take it over. Much work was needed. After improvements to the Lodge a Mr Pryor was appointed as custodian living there until 1947. From 1954 a Mr Martin was custodian until the post was abolished in 1959. The Lodge was rented out by the Council and then sold as a private residence.

A period of benign neglect seems to have followed. In the 1970s a scheme was considered to remove memorials and level some areas to make maintenance easier – indeed it seems that some memorials at the Victoria Road may have been removed at that time. The scheme came to a sudden end when the Council's lawyers judged it to be illegal ! Nature took its course, ivy enveloping headstones, stones shifting and collapsing and bushes spreading to hide graves.

The fortunes of the Cemetery started to change in 1989 when Cambridge academic Dr Lucy Slater and Josephine Mason began the task of recording all the memorial inscriptions in the Cemetery.

In 2005 concern was growing at the condition of the Cemetery and its problems with antisocial behaviour. Two local Councillors, Anthony Hymans and Rupert Moss-Eccardt, were instrumental in bringing together those who were concerned about the Cemetery. From this initial meeting of local residents the Friends group was born.

In 2007 a questionnaire was distributed to 2000+ homes in the areas around the Cemetery to assess residents' views on the Cemetery and how it could be made into a greater asset for the community. 444 replies were analysed and used to inform the thinking of the Friends and Council officers in planning improvements. Robert Myers Associates were commissioned to draw up plans for additional tree planting and other landscape changes within the spirit of Loudon's original design.

The last of the new trees will be planted shortly, paths have been straightened, overgrown thickets removed, many bulbs planted and wildflower areas seeded. Plans to set back the Victoria Road gate and to erect a stone to mark the location of the Chapel remain to be agreed and funded.

January 2011

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