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Help Save Woodgrange Park Cemetery

By Kay MacKay, November 2, 2000

Woodgrange Park Cemetery, located in Manor Park, Newham, London, England, is privately owned and has been allowed to sell off part of the burial grounds where 14,000 remains were laid for the development of housing. This was allowed by an Act of Parliament, called the Woodgrange Park Cemetery Act 1993, which allowed the Law to be changed in order that the development could go ahead.

Woodgrange has been totally neglected by the owner and previous owner and vast areas of private graves have been cleared of the headstones and new graves buried on top. Unless relatives live locally or pay to have their graves maintained they can be cleared and reused within one year and a day. The cost of maintaining one grave yet alone two or three or more could become an impossible task particularly for retired relatives.

Little was done to ensure that possible relatives of those buried in the redevelopment area (mainly Square 11 and surrounding, many common graves and we are told war casualties of the second world war are buried.) were contacted other than notices posted in the local paper.

Earlier this year two of the National Newspapers posted articles and photographs of the removal of the remains, because of this families throughout the World realised that they had relatives buried in the cemetery, and sadly for many, within the area of re-development. Newham Council were inundated with telephone calls but had very little information to pass on to those enquiring. They had a list of some 200 names out of 14,000. Only 30 families were able to arrange to have their relatives move d and reburied in a proper grave.

I had at least four of my family within the development area and started to investigate this matter. This has been ongoing since April this year, and little help has been given to those of us trying to obtain information. I have been in contact with Newham Council, the Home Office and one MP who has made some enquires for us and correspondence has been exchanged within the last eight months.

However, it has now come to the stage where no action is being taken. Six weeks ago I visited the cemetery with representatives of the above and were shocked to find that human remains were scattered both within and throughout the immediate area of development! This was the second visit of the MP and these findings were the same as in the first visit. There is also concern that the area has not been "cleaned" i.e. that all remains have been removed from below ground.

Immediately after the visit I wrote to the Home Office and Newham to request that the development work by stopped pending a full investigation, no action has been taken.

I am therefore enclosing the attached Petition, I would be very grateful if you would offer your support to this Petition and pass on to anyone who would be prepared to sign and pass on to others who may have concerns regarding what has happened at this Cemetery. I propose that you collect a page of signatures (either by email or by a written document) and then forward them to me at Katy@cwcom.net or visit the Woodgrange Cemetery website at: http://www.woodgrange.freehosting.net

- Kay MacKay

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