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History and heritage of our cemeteries
History of Warrington Cemetery
The first burial took place on 26 March 1857 in the Roman Catholic Section A grave number 298. It was the burial of Catherine Allen, sadly aged just 2 years old, of Cockhedge, Warrington.
After the Dardanelles Campaign (Gallipoli) in April-December 1915, some injured soldiers from the Australian and New Zealand forces were transferred to the military hospital at Winwick. Sadly some of those brave men passed away and were buried in the War Graves at the front of the cemetery. Anzac Day is marked every year at Warrington Cemetery.
The Old Tram Stop
The building second on the left of the entrance is now the mess room for cemetery staff. It was originally a tram stop and terminus on Manchester Road, and later became a bus stop. When the building was converted, a builder is said to have found a 100-year-old tram ticket rolled up and stuck in a crevice in the wall.
The main road on the left-hand boundary from the entrance is known as Carriage Road. It would have been the main access in for horse drawn carriages to the Roman Catholic side of the cemetery.
The grave of George Formby
George Formby’s career spanned 40 years from 1921 until his death in 1961. His name is famous the world over, and he entertained allied servicemen during World War II.
Born George Hoy Booth, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps onto the stage after his father’s sudden death in 1921, and after having become too heavy to pursue his ambition of being a jockey.
George’s funeral was a moving and fitting occasion, and brought the whole of Warrington to a standstill. George’s magnificent white marble memorial headstone actually bares the image of his father, also called George and also a star of the stage. It’s located in the Roman Catholic Section B of the cemetery.
The grave of William Locker
In the Dissenters Section B lies the body of William Locker, dated 6 April 1879. The inscription on his headstone curiously reads “his tongue was cut out seven months before his death”. His occupation was a green grocer, he was 45 years old. Buried with Rebecca Locker who was buried in 1916 aged 80 years
History of Burtonwood Cemetery
The original burial ground for Burtonwood village was at St Michael and All Angel’s Church. Burials in the churchyard stopped in 1896 and Burtonwood Cemetery opened in 1901.
The village has grown significantly since then, and today the cemetery is a focal point for many families. It’s only 1.9 acres in size but has many interesting graves and memorials within the cemetery pointing to well-known local families as well as settlers from far distant shores.
The entrance gates
The sandstone and brick pillars, and the lodge, at the cemetery gates are original features built in 1901. Ornate wrought iron gates originally hung on the inside of the pillars, but they meant the entrance was too narrow for larger modern vehicles so they were replaced with new gates which stand independently. The original gates were preserved and now form the entrance to a compound within the cemetery. They weigh 1 ton each, and have been repaired and restored. The newer gates were purchased by the Burtonwood community in memory of 18-year-old Paul Jackson who died in a terrible car crash in 2003.
The Jesus Christ statue
At the top of the drive into Burtonwood Cemetery stands a stunningly beautiful statue of Jesus Christ surrounded by flower beds. It provides a wonderful figurehead to the cemetery and was paid for by donations from local residents via the Friends of Burtonwood Village. Residents chose the design to replace the beautiful flower beds which had to be removed from the island situated on the main drive – the island had to be reduced by two thirds to allow larger modern vehicles to pass safely.
The Forshaw family grave
The Forshaw family is synonymous with Burtonwood, in particular for their brewery which still thrives in the village. The rather impressive Forshaw family grave is at the very front of plot 2 (Church of England).
The grave of the Rev. Alfred Mansfield Mitchell
To date, Reverend Alfred Mansfield Mitchell is the longest serving vicar of St Michael’s Anglican Church in Burtonwood. He was loved and respected by his parishioners and served with distinction for 45 years. He is buried in a modest, unassuming grave in plot 2 (Church of England).
The grave of Fred Phillips, councillor and mayor
Buried also in plot 2 (Church of England) is Fred Phillips. He was a parish councillor from 1954-84, serving as chairman nine times, and a councillor on Warrington Rural District Council from 1957-74. He was a borough councillor from 1974-84 and Mayor of Warrington in 1982-83.
The graves of local Roman Catholic priests
In plot 5 (Roman Catholic) is a grave containing three priests from St Paul of the Cross Roman Catholic Church. Father William Almond died in 1938 and was succeeded by Father Edmund Griffin who died in 1960. Father Griffin was succeeded by Father Martin Lyndon, who returned to Ireland to recuperate following a long illness before passing away aged 85.
American World War Two veterans
During WWII, the largest US airbase in Europe was at Burtonwood. In plot 11 of the cemetery (interdenominational), US serviceman Vern Leroy Reid is buried. He was a veteran of the Berlin Airlift and settled in Burtonwood when he married his sweetheart Hannah. Vern died on 20 December 2006 and the US Air Force was present at Vern’s funeral, giving a 21 gun salute.
In Section 13 (Church of England) is the grave of his compatriot James Campbell Kennedy (Jim), who served his country in World War 2, Korea and Vietnam. Sgt Kennedy settled in England in the late 1960s and married his English wife, Maureen, and had two children.
The granite teddy bear
In Section 14 stands a beautiful granite teddy bear. Roughleys stone masons donated the memorial marked with the words ‘Gods Little Angels Called Back to Heaven’. An American colonel based at Burtonwood once owned the grave, tragically having lost his unborn baby. On his return to America, the colonel donated the grave back to the council on the understanding that it was looked after and that any unborn babies who had passed away in Burtonwood could be laid to rest in this spot.
History of Fox Covert Cemetery
The first burial at Fox Covert Cemetery took place on 6 October 1961. The cemetery was opened as a municipal burial area by a joint burial committee of Warrington, Stockton Heath and Walton.
Carved from the last Ice Age, the sandstone hill which Fox Covert sits on can be seen from miles around. It’s popular for its crisp alpine air and stunning panoramic views, along with the tidy uniform rows of headstones, which are kept to a maximum height of 3 feet and 6 inches.
Since the cemetery opened, Warrington has increasingly become a more diverse town both culturally and religiously. Whilst Hindus and Sikhs often prefer cremation, Muslims bury their loved ones and in 1986 we opened the Muslim section of Fox Covert which faces Mecca. The headstones are beautifully arranged in a stunningly scenic location.
In 2001, the cremated remains section of the cemetery opened.
Warrington bombing memorial
There are two semi-circular green ‘caged’ benches either side of the main drive downwards into Fox Covert. They were constructed after the devastating bomb blasts in Warrington in 1993 which claimed the lives of three-year-old Johnathan Ball and 12-year-old Tim Parry, and injured many more. Floral tributes collected at that harrowing time are buried under the benches. They serve as a poignant tribute and a beautiful spot to rest and take in the clean air and scenery.
History of Hollinfare Cemetery
Hollinfare Cemetery was opened as a burial ground of the Warrington Rural District Council, in the parish of Rixton with Glazebrook, after the old churchyard at St Helen’s Church became full.
The first burial took place on 13 December 1894. The burial was of Master Herbert Hudson, who was sadly aged just 1 month.
The cemetery is evidence of the area’s rich history and industrial heritage. Many people moved here to help build the railways and the Manchester Ship Canal, and to work at the wire works and soap factories. Farmers, blacksmiths, weavers, lock keepers, shoe makers, wheelwrights, tailors, teachers and coal carters are all buried at Hollinfare.
Over the last two centuries Hollinfare has been extended to accommodate the needs of the growing local population. The Friends of Hollinfare Cemetery are the experts on the history and heritage of the cemetery. Ring us on 01925 267731 and we can put you in touch.
Hollinfare war memorial
The parish’s fallen heroes are remembered on the war memorial and on the Commonwealth war graves within the cemetery.