Wesleyan Methodist Cemetery
Cheetham Hill, Manchester, Lancashire County, England
Opened in 1834 and closed for any further burials in 1966 the Wesleyan
Methodist Cemetery at Cheetham Hill, Manchester was once considered
by the wealthy merchants of North Manchester as the place to be buried.
However, since it's closure in 1966 it became neglected, overgrown and
In one area of the cemetery there was a mixture of huge fancy memorial
stones at the graves of the wealthy, in another there were rows of five
foot high stones which were so close together they seemed to form roofless
tunnels, and in another area the headstones had been laid flat over
the graves after the burials. Eventually the standing headstones became
an attraction for vandals who seemed to get some perverted pleasure
from pushing them over and spraying graffiti on them. The cemetery became
such a burden for the owners that they took the disgraceful decision
of allowing the land to be sold to property developers and to help in
the disposal of it Manchester City Council gave planning permission
for a shopping center to be built on the site.
In 2003 the developers in their greed and against much opposition, went
ahead with the exhumation of the remains of 20,000 bodies, which were
then re-interred in a mass grave at Bury, Lancashire. Unfortunately
those involved in the work also seemed to have little respect as many
bones were later discovered at the landfill site where the soil was
deposited. It is not known what has happened to the many artifacts that
must have been placed with the bodies at the time of the burials. The
site manager at the time stated that anything found would be buried
with the bodies when re-interred, but as no record was ever kept, who
knows? All the headstones have also been destroyed and probably used
for hardcore in the construction industry.
This dreadful act shows how some people are prepared to put money before
respect for the dead and also how they have a total disregard for the
feelings of the living relatives.
The cemetery holds many personal memories for me. From 1957 to 1963
I grew up in an old Victorian house adjacent to the cemetery gates.
My father was the grave digger and caretaker there from 1957 until its
closure in 1966. Many a time as a small adventurous child I would help
my father dig graves, and as we had no garden of our own we considered
the grounds of the cemetery to be our own garden, spending much time
maintaining it and playing there. The Wesleyan Methodist Church situated
about 400 yards away also closed and was demolished.
In addition to the cemetery closing for burials, the Wesleyan Methodist
Church situated about 400 yards away also closed and was demolished.
That was a real loss to the community; it was a grand structure with
a spire. It was well maintained and to me was an example of what a church
should be. It was rather like an old Cathedral but on a smaller scale.
My father used to look after the boilers there; I remember going with
him into the cellar when he stoked up the coal-fired boilers. My mother
also played her part, she helped polish up many of the brass candelabras
and plaques which in itself was quite a job. As with the cemetery, money
was probably behind the reason for the demolition of the church, as
not so long after a block of flats was built on the site.
- Les Leggett
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