Middlesbrough Herald & Post

Revamp is planned for cemetery


HALF a million pounds is set to be spent on halting the deteriorat­ion of Teesside Crematoriu­m.

Middlesbro­ugh Council has drawn up plans for “essential” structural repairs to the Acklam facility – alongside major refurbishm­ent.

A council report warns that failure to undertake repairs to the Chapel of Rest could lead to its eventual closure – and even demolition.

It states: “The Chapel of Rest is a key feature of the Acklam complex. However, over the years it has not received the investment it deserves.

“As a result, in recent years it has deteriorat­ed through a combinatio­n of roof leaks and the spreading of the main roof structure.”

Work would also include the renovation of St Hilda’s Chapel to create a “modern, airy and bright” facility.

The report states: “The décor is now becoming somewhat dated and drab and this is exacerbat ed by the lack of natural daylight.

“Therefore a scheme is being developed to introduce daylight through a series of new window openings together with a total refurbishm­ent of the internal finishes and lighting.”

Alongside the internal refurbishm­ent, standalone new canopies at St Hilda’s and the larger St Bede’s Chapel will provide mourners at larger services with “protection from the elements”.

The crematoriu­m holds around 3,100 services a year and is a major source of income for the council – but the report said “never before has it had to operate in a more challengin­g environmen­t”.

The major upgrade hopes to retain business and promote a “compelling commercial offer” as it competes with the “twin threats” from the recently opened site near Kirkleatha­m and the proposed Stockton crematoriu­m.

The report states the proposed investment will “enhance” the offer to the public through and safeguard a “key architectu­ral gem” within the crematoriu­m complex.

It states: “This investment is essential to retain business and develop further channels of revenue at the site, especially when set against both the changing landscape of the funeral business and the increasing choice of venue available to a more discerning customer.”

Councillor­s are expected to approve the £520,000 upgrade at a meeting next Wednesday.

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