NEWS archive 2022
Below you will find news articles from Jan 2022 to Dec 2022 in chronological order
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. The Officer suggested that the loss 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.
April - 2022
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
Retirement of Bishop Henderson
The Bishop Of Blackburn, will retire later this month and leave Lancashire to return to the Hampshire area. Members of the Friends will remember and appreciate the important decision which Bishop Henderson took in July 2019 to retain the consecrated status of the former Calderstones Hospital Cemetery. Following two public consultations, the Bishop considered all the evidence and information which had been provided by the Archdeacon on behalf of the Owners, proposing the removal of the consecrated status, and the submissions of Mr Philip Petchey, the Friends and numerous other individuals and organisations, advocating retention of the consecrated status. Copies of the various submissions are available on the website along with a copy of the Bishop's decision and his reasons for reaching that decision which are included in the Diocese of Blackburn section above.
Several members of the Friends have already written to Bishop Henderson thanking him for his support over the past few years, wishing him a long and enjoyable retirement. The Committee share those good wishes and want to place on record their appreciation for the special contribution which Bishop Henderson has made in helping us to pursue the Friends objectives for the people buried in the Cemetery, and their families.
Members locating the grave of Peter Jones In Brockhall Cemetery. Following recent checks, and with the assistance and support of the gardeners at the Cemetery, it has been possible to identify Peter's grave and mark the spot with a temporary stone marker. Peter's brother Jeff, is in the process of arranging for a permanent gravestone to be installed and is in contact with HDAK, the company responsible for the day to day management of the Brockhall site.
CWGC clarification 12.7.22- see March entry
Members may recall the cards for Geoffrey which were left outside the locked gates of the Cemetery and were referred to in the News items of February and March 2021. We have now been contacted by Geoffrey's relatives and hope to be able to assist them in locating his grave, which is on the first row of burials in the RC section of the Cemetery.
Ingrid Littler visited the Brockhall Cemetery to trace a relative who she recently discovered was buried there. Fortunately, Ingrid had good sunny weather for the visit and took a few photos which she is happy to post on the website for other members and visitors.The photos can be found at the bottom of the Brockhall Cemetery page.
Following the example of relatives who have written short histories of members of their family who are buried in the Cemetery, some members of the Friends have been involved in researching the lives of a few other individuals who are also buried in the Cemetery. The first of these is Daniel Roper who is buried in grave number 652. Dr Nigel Ingham has written an interesting account of some aspects of Daniel's life which is available in the People who are buried in the Cemetery section. Use the page button to take you to that section and click the arrow on the left to open the sub-sections
Also linked to Nigel is a article headed "Finding Uncle Tony."which was produced by Sue Jarvis. Although Tony lived and died at the Royal Albert Hospital in Lancaster his experience and those of his niece Sue will be familiar and inspirational to readers. The article can be found in the Contributors Section.
Tom Newell's grave
Members of the Friends were recently able to locate the site of Tom Newell's grave. He is buried in grave number 70 at Brockhall Cemetery. The photo shows Kath Bowen with the marker stone identifying Tom's grave. Tom's relative, Sheila, will be contacting HDAK, the management company looking after the Cemetery, as like Jeff Jones she wants to erect a permanent memorial, for her relative.
At the request of the family, who wanted to mark the 75th anniversary of Geoffrey's death, members of the Friends were able to locate the grave (46) of Geoffrey in the currently overgrown and neglected Calderstones Cemetery. The remarkable story of Geoffrey, which will be written by his family will appear later, but here are a few photos from the visit on the 27th August. They show David Fitzpatrick, locating the grave, the arrival of the family at the Cemetery, 81 year-old Stella leaving flowers on her uncle's grave and the Tebb family at the graveside. Readers will be surprised and inspired when they are able to read the full story of Geoffrey and the special significance of the 27th August for his niece Stella.
Brockhall Hospital Cemetery.
The graves of both Peter Jones and Tom Newell have been identified and marked with a temporary stone by members of the Friends. Relatives of both men have contacted Mark Hurst who is the representative of HDAK, the management company responsible for the grounds maintenance in parts of the former Brockhall Hospital site who has also been generously cutting the grass in the Cemetery. They contacted Mark to establish how they might obtain permission to erect a permanent memorial and were told, as expected, that permission would have to come from Mrs Hitman, the widow of Gerald Hitman, who is believed to be the owner of the Brockhall Cemetery, in which Gerald is buried, alongside all the former Brockhall people. Mark is not managing the Cemetery, on behalf of Mrs Hitman, but has kindly agreed to pass on the requests to her in New Zealand where she has apparently lived for several years. Unfortunately, for reasons which we are not aware, communications sent to Mrs Hitman are not always answered quickly, which seems to have happened here. Hopefully we may soon have a response.
Latest photos from Maria Evans of the flowers placed on the graves of Geoffrey Tebb and Joseph Tetlow in Calderstones Cemetery
The Right of Way
Twelve months after our application to Lancashire County Council, we have finally received a very lengthy and detailed response confirming that the Council is not at this time persuaded to register the Right of Way, but gives details of how the Friends might appeal that decision and get an independent assessment of the evidence we have provided and the decision which the Council has made.
The very detailed response addresses lots of different historical issues around the original deeds, maps, plans and use of the "application route," as it refers to the path/roadway between Mitton Road and the QMMH Cemetery. It will take some time to fully evaluate the decision and the additional evidence and counter-arguments which the Friends might present, as well as correcting the significant misunderstandings and mistakes in the Council's consideration.
Rather than posting the full 70 pages of the report on this site, members who are interested in this subject and especially those who might wish to contribute their own records and photos, should request a copy which will then be forwarded to them.
It seems likely that some further legal advice will be necessary before a decision is taken
on appealing the Council's position, but the initial view is that there are significant grounds to support such an appeal.
The Council meeting at which the Application was discussed was filmed as a webcam and readers will be able to see the evidence which was presented by following the link below. The Cemetery was Item number 8 and begins approximately 44 minutes into the session
In considering the Friends application to register he Right of Way through Calderstones Cemetery, the members of the Lancashire County Council Committee which dealt with the matter were united in their commitment to ensuring that access to the QMMH should always remain available and open at all times to visitors, especially those visitors with a disability. As the QMMH Cemetery can only be accessed via the Calderstones Cemetery members are aware of the difficulties facing visitors who want to visit the 1172 graves of the former hospital residents and staff,
The annual Remembrance Parade and wreath-laying ceremony at Calderstones and the QMMH Cemetery was held on Saturday 5th November, six weeks after the LCC Committee considered the Right of Way Application The following photos show the difficulty which one lady with a disability had in accessing the Cemetery for the service. Fortunately the three uniformed British Legion members were able to assist the lady and man-handle her Disability Scooter into the Cemetery - but what about other visitors on other days?
Members of the LCC Committee are now aware of the difficulties which this lady encountered and the access which was unavailable to others. Hopefully, they will consider how the " right of way at all times and for all purposes connected with the use and enjoyment of the said piece of land," which was established in 1916 can be satisfactorily maintained for all visitors.
A little tidying
Despite requests to Mr and Mrs Gerard, the effective owners of the Calderstones Cemetery, to provide at least basic maintenance for the site the Cemetery remains badly neglected and at this time of year overgrown with vegetation which has not been cut in the past two years. Apart from the ongoing problems with access to the Cemetery being restricted by locked gates and inadequate entrance for the elderly, or people with disabilities, once inside the Cemetery access to graves is severely restricted by the vegetation and absence of any gravestones or an indication of the location of the known 669 graves containing the at least 1172 men women and children who are buried there.
The Friends do have copies of the original map of the cemetery, identifying all graves before 1989 and despite the neglected condition and overgrown vegetation it has been possible to identify and clear the area around a few graves, in a similar manner to the graves of the Booth Hall babies which were cleared and exposed by Brian and his Team from Pinac Films.
After the excellent work done by Maria and the Tebb family in clearing the area around Geoffrey Tebb's grave, David Fitzpatrick, Kath Bowen and Maria Evans were involved in clearing access to the graves on Constance Clements, and Thomas (Tommy) Smith. Other graves can be identified and we would welcome volunteers to assist in clearing the vegetation to expose and then maintain them.
A Tidy Up -Constance Clements and Tommy Smith's graves
The QMMH service 5th November
As has been established practice, the annual Remembrance Service was held at the Cemetery on the 5th November after a short parade around the Hospital grounds, which for the first time, did not include a religious service in St Luke's Church. following its closure earlier this year.
The people who attended the service in the QNNH Cemetery, found that there was no vehicular access into the site, the main gate being locked. The smaller pedestrian gate to the right of the main gate was unlocked for the occasion, but as will be seen from the following photos, there was either no, or restricted access, for people with disabilities, as shown by the elderly lady and her Disability scooter having to be physically lifted and man-handled into the Cemetery by the three British Legion members. The same restrictions which this lady and other disabled visitors experienced on the day, are shared throughout the year, by other visitors wanting to visit the Calderstones Cemetery.
The prominent Keep Out notice attached to the main gate, conveys the clear message that visitors are not welcome, on this "construction- site," with no mention of a cemetery, the deceased or their would-be visitors. How poignant that the last and only construction in the Cemetery, was that main gate, which was completed was over four years ago.
Hopefully, as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Lancashire County Council and the Hospital who are now aware of these problems, will respond positively to ensure that they are addressed, and resolved for all visitors.
A further visit of the Tebb family
An invitation to an exhibition to be held at Whalley Library