Shame of overgrown Blackburn graveyard where 21 soldiers were laid to rest

The overgrown graveyard

The overgrown graveyard

First published in News Blackburn Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Crime reporter

A GRAVEYARD where 21 war heroes are buried has been left in a ‘shameful’ state by a council.

Budget cuts and bad weather have been blamed for the cemetery at St James’ Church, Lower Darwen, being left to ‘rack and ruin’.

The graveyard, which is around the size of a football pitch, is overgrown, with headstones lying on the ground.

The Stopes Brow site contains hundreds of graves, including those of servicemen who died during the First and Second World Wars.

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council is responsible for the upkeep of the graveyard but said the work it could carryout was limited because of budget cuts.

Bob Wood, chairman of the Darwen branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “It is disgraceful and shameful that it has been allowed to get in such a state.

“A graveyard, especially when it has got war heroes, deserves a lot of respect and it should be looked after properly.

“It is really upsetting for the memories of those people.”

The Rev Timothy Horobin, of St James’, said: “It is such a shame.

“The maintenance of the graveyard is massive as it is very, very old, but there is no funding to put somebody in to do it up.

“The council came and pushed the headstones down for health and safety reasons which made a real mess and made it almost impossible to keep them tidy.”

Mr Horobin said ideally a groundsman would be employed to take care of the graves.

He said: “The grass has just grown so fast this year, it has been horrific.

“We really need funding to keep everything tidy.”

Following complaints about the state of the site a team of volunteers carried out a clean-up of the grounds earlier this month.

But it still remains very badly overgrown.

But Coun Faryad Hussain, executive member for environment at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said budget cuts meant the authority was forced to prioritise where funds were spent.

He said: “Residents raised the issue of the state of St James’ churchyard at a ward solution meeting.

“As a result of the meeting, residents got together with Council equipment from the Your Call scheme to clean-up the area.

“I think they have made an excellent start.

“Because of budget cuts, we are only limited in what we can do.

“We are in tough times and we can’t maintain the same level of services people are used to because of the reduction in government funding so we all need to work together to make Blackburn with Darwen a better place.

“The residents are looking at forming a friends group and the council will continue to support them.

“I want to take this opportunity to praise the residents who are helping to improve St James’.”

Matt Morris, from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, said: “We make regular inspections, first and foremost to make sure the commemoration befits the sacrifice and secondly to look at the state of the churchyard.

“I will raise the issue that St James’ is in an unacceptable state and see whether we may wish to take the matter up with the local authority.”

Comments (9)

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11:11am Fri 23 Nov 12

Fire Fly says...

Anyone issued with an ASBO, community service etc should be made to tend to area's like this. War hero's should never be left to rest in such an awful state.
Anyone issued with an ASBO, community service etc should be made to tend to area's like this. War hero's should never be left to rest in such an awful state. Fire Fly
  • Score: 16

11:46am Fri 23 Nov 12

KL74 says...

I am sure that if someone contacted Probation they would be happy to contribute. I have pasted the link to their website. Someone who knows more about the state of the graveyard should put their proposal forward.#

http://www.probation
-lancashire.org.uk/u
npaid-work-community
-payback/default.php
I am sure that if someone contacted Probation they would be happy to contribute. I have pasted the link to their website. Someone who knows more about the state of the graveyard should put their proposal forward.# http://www.probation -lancashire.org.uk/u npaid-work-community -payback/default.php KL74
  • Score: 3

12:06pm Fri 23 Nov 12

usandthem says...

New Row Methodist up Heys lane is the worst in Blackburn, can't even tell were the paths are.
New Row Methodist up Heys lane is the worst in Blackburn, can't even tell were the paths are. usandthem
  • Score: 2

12:33pm Fri 23 Nov 12

mavrick says...

It is a national problem, it is to our shame that any graveyard is neglected. I am sure community payback along with other volunteers could sort out the problem. There is no reason why groups like this could not pick a cemetery in their local area and have a mass clean up weekend. cut the grass and weeds etc, I would not let council H&S get in the way either. councils should help facilitate these weekends. People do care and will help if asked.
It is a national problem, it is to our shame that any graveyard is neglected. I am sure community payback along with other volunteers could sort out the problem. There is no reason why groups like this could not pick a cemetery in their local area and have a mass clean up weekend. cut the grass and weeds etc, I would not let council H&S get in the way either. councils should help facilitate these weekends. People do care and will help if asked. mavrick
  • Score: 4

1:56pm Fri 23 Nov 12

english rose 1 says...

Agree with the comments above, the community payback / probation team have done a lot of work in Darwen Cemetery, - they only have one team working in B/burn & Darwen at the moment so are very stretched.
*
The responsibility of the graves is that of the relatives. Obviously over time relatives pass away, move away etc; So over time old graves don't get tended.
*
The Govt should really give Councils a grant to specifically look after war graves. Instead they give massive cutbacks .....
Agree with the comments above, the community payback / probation team have done a lot of work in Darwen Cemetery, - they only have one team working in B/burn & Darwen at the moment so are very stretched. * The responsibility of the graves is that of the relatives. Obviously over time relatives pass away, move away etc; So over time old graves don't get tended. * The Govt should really give Councils a grant to specifically look after war graves. Instead they give massive cutbacks ..... english rose 1
  • Score: 3

6:03pm Fri 23 Nov 12

2 for 5p says...

english rose 1 wrote:
Agree with the comments above, the community payback / probation team have done a lot of work in Darwen Cemetery, - they only have one team working in B/burn & Darwen at the moment so are very stretched.
*
The responsibility of the graves is that of the relatives. Obviously over time relatives pass away, move away etc; So over time old graves don't get tended.
*
The Govt should really give Councils a grant to specifically look after war graves. Instead they give massive cutbacks .....
You've hit the nail on the head:

The responsibility of the graves is that of the relatives. Obviously over time relatives pass away, move away etc; So over time old graves don't get tended.

Don't expect my council tax go to pay for this , sorry if I sound harsh but this would get ridiculess numbers as years go on .
[quote][p][bold]english rose 1[/bold] wrote: Agree with the comments above, the community payback / probation team have done a lot of work in Darwen Cemetery, - they only have one team working in B/burn & Darwen at the moment so are very stretched. * The responsibility of the graves is that of the relatives. Obviously over time relatives pass away, move away etc; So over time old graves don't get tended. * The Govt should really give Councils a grant to specifically look after war graves. Instead they give massive cutbacks .....[/p][/quote]You've hit the nail on the head: The responsibility of the graves is that of the relatives. Obviously over time relatives pass away, move away etc; So over time old graves don't get tended. Don't expect my council tax go to pay for this , sorry if I sound harsh but this would get ridiculess numbers as years go on . 2 for 5p
  • Score: -3

6:29pm Fri 23 Nov 12

Fire Fly says...

2 for 5p wrote:
english rose 1 wrote:
Agree with the comments above, the community payback / probation team have done a lot of work in Darwen Cemetery, - they only have one team working in B/burn & Darwen at the moment so are very stretched.
*
The responsibility of the graves is that of the relatives. Obviously over time relatives pass away, move away etc; So over time old graves don't get tended.
*
The Govt should really give Councils a grant to specifically look after war graves. Instead they give massive cutbacks .....
You've hit the nail on the head:

The responsibility of the graves is that of the relatives. Obviously over time relatives pass away, move away etc; So over time old graves don't get tended.

Don't expect my council tax go to pay for this , sorry if I sound harsh but this would get ridiculess numbers as years go on .
I absolutely hate to say this, i'm resisting it BUT I have to agree with you in part! Nope, I never thought i'd see the day either lol.

Essentially it should be families responsibility but not everyone has one, some are estranged from each other, some just out lived them. We all pay council tax & those who have passed away have too...so for me, they should have their graves tended. On the whole though, I still think people issued with ASBO's, maybe even kids suspended from school...should be made to tend area's like this...to teach them some respect & hopefully they'll get something out of doing something that has meaning.
[quote][p][bold]2 for 5p[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]english rose 1[/bold] wrote: Agree with the comments above, the community payback / probation team have done a lot of work in Darwen Cemetery, - they only have one team working in B/burn & Darwen at the moment so are very stretched. * The responsibility of the graves is that of the relatives. Obviously over time relatives pass away, move away etc; So over time old graves don't get tended. * The Govt should really give Councils a grant to specifically look after war graves. Instead they give massive cutbacks .....[/p][/quote]You've hit the nail on the head: The responsibility of the graves is that of the relatives. Obviously over time relatives pass away, move away etc; So over time old graves don't get tended. Don't expect my council tax go to pay for this , sorry if I sound harsh but this would get ridiculess numbers as years go on .[/p][/quote]I absolutely hate to say this, i'm resisting it BUT I have to agree with you in part! Nope, I never thought i'd see the day either lol. Essentially it should be families responsibility but not everyone has one, some are estranged from each other, some just out lived them. We all pay council tax & those who have passed away have too...so for me, they should have their graves tended. On the whole though, I still think people issued with ASBO's, maybe even kids suspended from school...should be made to tend area's like this...to teach them some respect & hopefully they'll get something out of doing something that has meaning. Fire Fly
  • Score: 0

1:35am Sat 24 Nov 12

pleasington says...

I don't think it should be ASBO kids...To be quite honest these kids are beyond respecting anything and I am quite sure they are not going to learn here. It should be community and or family lead , I believe there are many in all communities that would love to be"called to action" and do something good. It just takes a leader to initiate this type of thing. Everybody wants to feel they have contributed and and not just to Thwaites profits. Thwaites Brewery is a regional brewery founded in 1807 by Daniel Thwaites in Blackburn, ... a Limited company but the real expansion came after the First World War....mm to me something for a sell anybody interested????
I don't think it should be ASBO kids...To be quite honest these kids are beyond respecting anything and I am quite sure they are not going to learn here. It should be community and or family lead , I believe there are many in all communities that would love to be"called to action" and do something good. It just takes a leader to initiate this type of thing. Everybody wants to feel they have contributed and and not just to Thwaites profits. Thwaites Brewery is a regional brewery founded in 1807 by Daniel Thwaites in Blackburn, ... a Limited company but the real expansion came after the First World War....mm to me something for a sell anybody interested???? pleasington
  • Score: 0

8:11am Sat 24 Nov 12

bril67 says...

i tend a ww1 grave that i adopted in darwen cemetery and would be willing to do the same here
i tend a ww1 grave that i adopted in darwen cemetery and would be willing to do the same here bril67
  • Score: 2

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