How many of our crems are fit for purpose?

Charles 10 Comments

It’s extraordinary how biddable bolshy Brits can be when they get to a crematorium — amazing what they put up with. Presumably it’s a matter of low-to-zero expectations. You expect it to be awful. It is. Whatever. 

Up in Jarrow, some people have had enough. Resident James Southern rates South Shields crematorium “wholly inadequate”. He said:

“I recently attended a service at the crematorium in South Shields.

“I have over the years been to a handful of other services there too. What strikes me is how wholly inadequate the size of the building is. I have only once been able to get inside for the service and been left standing outside on the other occasions. Notwithstanding that, the loudspeakers used to relay what’s happening inside to the gathering outside are next to useless.

“I came away from the recent service feeling that I had not been able to pay my proper respects, as I was detached from the service and both unable to see it or hear it properly. Surely the council can improve this situation so that the people of the region can bid farewell to the sons and daughters of South Tyneside in a proper and fitting manner?”

Full story in the Jarrow and Hebburn Gazette here


    1. Charles

      …….but only if it’s beneficial Charles……….and you well know my views about Corporates

      and anyone on here have any views regarding the Westerleigh Group, rather than the Dignity Crem’s set up?

      as I cannot immediately recall said entity having been discussed on here before


  1. Charles

    Sadly, I have to say, (and you know my feelings about Corporates) that around here the cheapest, best, and most emotionally sensitive/generally helpful crematorium is owned by a Corporate. Sad, but true. I think a lot of it comes down to the personality of the manager who is a wonderful person.

    I was at a meeting of the North East branch of the SBP last night (in an Indian restaurant…well you have to have fun somehow, don’t you!) Interestingly South Shields came up in conversation as one of the less pleasant crematoria in the region.

  2. Charles

    Andrew, I have found Westerleigh make a real effort around here – both N. Bristol (Westerleigh) and the Forset of Dean (Cinderford) . Sundays, 7pm services, candles, family playing their organ, coffins with feet facing the congregation, trestles instead of catafalque, incense (last slot only), Kate (the icy blonde attendant) holding back tears at one young person’s funeral – all in a day’s work.
    But it was their response to the five swallows that flew into the chapel and couldn’t find a way out that showed what they were really made of: staff stayed late for four nights with the doors open – with halogen floodlights set up outside until the birds finally sussed it and flew out. One fell to the ground and was nursed and hydrated back to flight.
    Cream of the crems, as crems go.

  3. Charles

    Most I think need improvement. Easthampstead Park is a good one.

    Many crematoria I know of need new chapels and some are definitely of an inadequate size. Dignity owned Woking is tiny – but they do make an effort to accommodate extra people. All crems could have an overspill area – with TV screens and decent sound? ( I once told Michael Parkinson I wouldn’t be able to seat him! He took it well.)

    In fairness, most crematoriums are old, they cannot easily be enlarged. The majority of funerals I arrange seem to have between 6 and 60 people attending. The really large gatherings would never fit in any crematorium chapel? Dare I suggest the best funeral director’s usually encourage use of a church prior to cremation if hundreds are expected – which does of course, not solve the problem of a suitable secular service space.

    The real issue is chronic lack of investment – and what is invested is usually spent on cremators and mercury abatement.

  4. Charles

    I’m with you there, James. When I did the last lap of one of yours I was looked after unbelievably brilliantly and kindly by the good people at Westerleigh. And they weren’t putting themselves out, it was perfectly normal for them. Tops by miles.

    Quite right about lack of investment, David. And let’s not forget that the older crems were for committal only. Now the Great Unchurched turn up in their hordes cos they ain’t got no particular place else to go. We need to revision our crems. Either that or adapt bigger redundant churches and fit incinerators to them.

  5. Charles

    Having been to two funerals of very close family in the last four months at Westerleigh Crematorium (N Bristol / S Glos), we’ve certainly been very impressed by their approach. They manage to give the impression of calm and unhurried service, with no waits outside for previous over-runs, no push and shove from following parties; and all in surroundings that compare very well with most we’ve seen.

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