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For some time we have been receiving enquiries from members living some distance from Whalley, about news of any developments at the Cemetery, and have responded on an individual basis to say that as far as we aware, there have been no significant changes since the Bishop's decision to retain the consecrated status in July 2019. We have some local members living or working near to the Cemetery and hopefully they will keep us in touch with any developments or lack of development.
6.10.2020: Mel Diack, MBE, who lives locally reports. "There appears to be nothing happening at the Cemetery, though new metal gates were installed behind the wooden boards some time ago. However, the adjoining field next to Guild House which I believe drains via pipes in the Cemetery is currently flooded, despite having new drains installed recently.
These flagstones were delivered to the Cemetery, sometime before Christmas 2020 and are positioned near to the chapels. It is presumed that these are to go on the paths in the woods at some stage.
Mel Diack MBE 29.1.2021
Mel Diack MBE reports that this notice was attached to the outside of the wooden fence, which prevents access to the Cemetery. We do not know which member or members of Geoffrey's family posted the notice and unfortunately have no way of contacting them. Mel phoned both the Lancashire Evening Telegraph and the Advertiser paper with the details and we wait to see if they will respond. He has also brought the matter to the attention of Councillors David Berryman and Ian Brown.
Geoffrey was buried in grave 46 which is the first row of RC graves, very close to the northern boundary of the Cemetery and faces the QMMH graves.
THE CEMETERY FILM
Produced by Pinac
8.4.2021: A further find of cards.
A collection of cards were recently found at the Cemetery, by Douglas Aspden, a neighbour who lives close to the site. I am presuming that these cards were placed- perhaps on the grave of the lady buried in the wicker basket by the tree/hedge, and then blown across and picked up by the contractors at the QMMH cemetery. There are a number of birthday and a single Christmas card which appear to be written to "Mum," with different messages of affection by a "Chrissie and Howard." There were also the remnants of a bunch of flowers, which may have come from this or any of the other graves. I cannot be certain that they were left for the lady in the wicker basket, but that seems most likely at the moment.
Mel Diack MBE
THE BROCKHALL HOSPITAL CEMETERY FILM
12.4 2021: After the success of the Calderstones Hospital Cemetery film, Pinac have now released a further and equally powerful film on the Brockhall Cemetery, which can be found by googling Brockhall Hospital Cemetery You Tube, which will lead you to the "The girl who escaped Brockhall Asylum," a completely different story, which the Presenter links to the Cemetery to begin his story.
Once again, Pinac had no prior contact with the Friends, and have taken their material from the website and their own research, which must have been thorough, as they have discovered facts and photographs which we were not previously aware of. Although there are a couple of minor errors in the early history of the Cemetery, the production is a very important and impressive piece of work, which for the first time in almost 30 years provides us with a valuable visual record of the Cemetery and the very different issues to those which are currently being experienced at Calderstones Cemetery.
One of our members, Kathleen Bowen has a very strong association with the Cemetery, and is particularly knowledgeable about its operation, during the time in which it was being managed by the Hospital. Kathleen remember the procedures which were followed for maintenance and points out that the moving of memorials for the convenience of the groundsmen, may have occurred in the past. Another member, Derek Bunn, also has a long association with Brockhall, having been employed there for many years, praised the accuracy and quality of the film.
Two recent photos
The Graves of the Booth Hall babies with their individual memorials and flowers provided entirely from crowd-funding donations, which were organised by Pinac and volunteers.i
Visitors from the Western Front Association visiting the QMMH Cemetery
September 2021 -change of name
An increasing number of members and contacts have a primary interest in the Brockhall Cemetery, details, photos and records of which, are already available on the website, We are currently involved in substantial research into the Brockhall Cemetery and the deceased who are buried there. Following a discussion at Committee and consultation with members, it was agreed that the Friends should in future be known as the Friends of Calderstones and Brockhall Hospital Cemeteries.
October 2021 - The Right of Way
In checking through old records, it was discovered that when the original Cemetery was sub-divided and a section which became the QMMH Cemetery was sold off to the Department for War in 1916, a right of way was created between Mitton Road and the QMMH Cemetery. However, for reasons which are not understood, the Right of Way had not been registered with the Lancashire Council, and perhaps led to owners to believe that they could block of and restrict access to the Cemetery. With the support of the NFCF and Nigel Evans MP, the Friends have followed the necessary procedures and completed an application for the Right of Way to be formally registered by Lancashire County Council, and we currently await a decision from the Council, Copies of the evidence submitted, can be found in the Sale Pack section
November 2021- Heather Nunn, the new FCBHC Twitter account, and current research activities
The Friends now have a Twitter account which reflects our change of name and interest in both the former Calderstones Hospital and Brockhall Hospital cemeteries. We are grateful to Heather Nunn for all her work in establishing the account and encourage members and visitors to follow and contribute their photos, information, views and enquiries to the site.
Please contact Heather directly with any suggestions you might have for the site The link is FCBHCLancs on Twitter
Heather has considerable experience in genealogy, especially the research of local family histories and has generously taken on responsibility for much of the Friend's current research activities, including working with our own extensive records and those of the Lancashire Records Office in Preston. The records of several people who are buried in the Calderstones Cemetery are being researched and we hope to produce a series of life-stories later in the year.
November/ December 2021 - Retrospective Planning permission for the removal of trees
Perhaps related to the annual Remembrance Service in the Queen Mary's Military Hospital cemetery, and the discovery of the establishment of the Right of Way from Mitton Road which was established in 1916 (see above) the Owners made an application to RVBC for retrospective planning permission to safeguard visiting members of the public by the removal of dead and diseased trees from the Cemetery. A plan was submitted to the Council with a detailed tree report, which members are encouraged to consult at ribblevalley.gov.uk/planningApplication/search and use reference 3/2021/1085 or Mitton Road. The photograph of the Western Front Association members' visit to the Cemetery which is shown above, includes the area where the trees are said to need removing. While the removal of dead and diseased trees is supported the Friends have written to the RVBC (see copy in the Different Plans section) highlighting the unexplained missing 14 trees, which are referred to in the otherwise excellent tree report, which includes the assumption that these trees were removed by a previous developer, when the Companies House records appear to show that both the companies who were involved, and were therefore responsible for the Cemetery, during the relevant period, Buildings of Remembrance International Ltd and Remembrance Parks Construction Ltd, seem to have been owned by the same person
January 2022 - Removal of Trees
Following the Owner's retrospective application to remove diseased and dead trees from the Cemetery, the RVBC considered the matter which was dealt with at Officer, rather than Councillor level, and approved the proposal. A strict condition of the original planning permission - see Plans, had been the retention of trees in the area between the chapels and Mitton Road. The Council's Tree Officer, visited the area and was satisfied that the extent of diseased and dead trees, warranted their removal and suggested the planning application be made. While acknowledging the need to remove diseased trees, the Friends were concerned to read in the Officer's report, that 14 trees were missing from the list which was surveyed and recorded in 2017, which the Officer suggested might have been the responsibility of the previous registered owner, Buildings of Remembrance International Ltd, He was understandably possibly unaware, that Remembrance Parks Construction Ltd, like its predecessor, have the same owner. Details of the missing trees can be found in the original plans at RVBC Planning 3/2018/1145 and their details are noted as missing in the latest report from the Tree Officer, which can be found at RVBC Planning 3/2021/1085
Jeff Jones has provided a link for members and site visitors to see the excellent film of Bill's life, which was produced in 1968, at a time when it was extremely rare to have the opportunity to visit and see inside an institution, let alone, have a televised film made about one of the people (patients/residents) who lived there. Bill's story is a sad but inspiring account of one special man and one family's experience of living with disability in the post-war years. His unique ability to communicate, and the exceptional support of the staff who cared for him at the time, show us the enormous ability and potential of this severely disabled man. At the same time, we are left to consider the hidden abilities and potential of maybe thousands of other severely disabled people whose talents remained unrecognised
It is also a huge credit to the staff and management of Brockhall Hospital at the time, not only to recognise and develop Bill's talents, but also to promote his achievements and allow him to become a respected author of his own autobiography. Institutions were closed environments where people who were deemed to be without ability or respect, could be hidden away. Over fifty years ago, Bill and Brockhall were to invite the cameras into an institution and in doing so, questioned the assumptions and perceptions of the Society which built and maintained these places, and crucially, the hidden potential of the people who had been sent there.
The 1994 letter
- During recent discussions with representatives of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and further research on the Friends archive records, the following letter was discovered which clearly shows the Hospital Board's desire to safeguard the future of the Cemetery was being actively considered long before the eventual sale of the Cemetery .
- However, the letter also confirms the existence of the Right of Way through the Cemetery and the accompanying covenants requiring the Hospital to maintain not only the road, but also the QMMH section of the Cemetery, which were acknowledged at the time. It is assumed that those covenants would have passed to the first purchaser after the sale of the Cemetery in 2000, and to all subsequent purchasers of the site since, but enquiries to clarify the position are continuing.
After over 20 years living in the Whalley area, during which time he has been heavily involved with the Cemetery and it's history, Mel Diack MBE, is preparing to leave the district and move to the Poulton-le-Fylde area. With his next-door neighbour, the late George Hardman, Mel was responsible for establishing the Friends and has kindly agreed to write a short article, headed "Looking Back" detailing his involvement with the Cemetery over so many years. The article is available in the Contributors section of the site and provides an excellent account of the work of Mel and George in trying to safeguard and maintain the graves within the former Calderstones Hospital Cemetery.
May - 2022
Two of our members, Peter and Sheila were keen to discover the exact location of the graves of their relatives, Peter and Tom, in the Brockhall Hospital Cemetery. With the support of the Management Company, HDAK, and especially Matt the Gardener, it was possible for another of our members, Kath Bowen to locate those graves using old maps and additional information, much of which is available on this site. Kath is very knowledgeable about the Cemetery and the Hospital grounds, having worked there in the past. The photos show Kath between rows 2 and 3 of the C of E section. All the marker sticks were removed after our visit but will be used again for further location work in the next couple of months