The Friends of Barnsley Cemetery

Group History

The “Friends of Barnsley Cemetery” group was formed in 2006 from people who live and work in all parts of the Borough and South Yorkshire, and who have a particular interest in helping to make the Cemetery a safer, pleasant and welcoming place for all visitors. We work in partnership with Barnsley Council and Bereavement Services. The group also has good links with other friends groups in the borough. The group has many plans and ideas and welcomes your help and input.

Cemetery History

Like many municipal towns, by the middle 1800’s, Barnsley felt the need for a Municipal Cemetery. The churchyards were full and the health hazards of overcrowding were becoming well known. The first meeting of Ratepayers took place on the 15th October 1857 to decide where the cemetery was to be situated. A list of sites were proposed with the one at Beechfield being selected. 22 acres were purchased from Mr Dorning’s trustees for the sum of £4,600. 14 of these comprised the original consecrated ground, while the other 8 acres were sublet. A competition was held for the design of the Cemetery and the prize of £30 was awarded to Perkin and Backhouse of Leeds from whose designs the buildings were erected.

The foundation stone was laid by Thomas Cope on Easter Monday 1860 and the cemetery was consecrated by the Bishop of Ripon on the 6th of November 1861. An extra 3 acres were added in 1875 and another quarter of an acre was consecrated in 1895, this being taken from the original sublet 8 acres and was used for new public graves.

The Cemetery buildings, gates and linking walls, and archways were made listed buildings in 1980 and the two chapels were demolished in 1983.

The first burials in the cemetery were a Mary Egley aged 22 and 2 stillborn babies. Mary was buried before the cemetery was officially opened and the others on the 6th of November, the day of the opening and the 10th of November. The Cemetery, for many years, had its own registrar, who lived in the lodge house; the first registrar was William Hoey. William resigned on July 21st, 1902, at the age of 72, after 41 years service. He died in 1908 and is buried close to the house where he spent so many years with his family. He was succeeded by Mr. William L. Parker, of Mount Vernon, who took up the appointment on August 21st, 1902.

The lodge house was sold by Barnsley Council, by auction in 2006 and has been turned into 3 apartments.

In the spring of 2009, craftsmen and builders removed the Mortuary roof and repaired and rebuilt it to make a fully safe and usable building. The Friends now use this as a gallery and they intend to hire it out for other artists and groups to use.

The Cemetery now measures 60 acres and in April 2009, a new area was set aside for natural burials.

150th Anniversary

Barnsley Municipal Cemetery was first laid out in 1861. This makes it 150 years old in 2011.

To mark this event, the Friends intend to make 2011 all about the mining industry and the Miners and their families that are buried in the cemetery.  There are many burials in the Cemetery of individuals who lost their lives in single accidents or disasters and also of men and boys who spent most of their lives in the industry as well as the owners of various collieries in the area.

The first burial of a miner that the registers record is Thomas Oxtaby who was killed at Edmunds Main, Worsbrough, aged 50 and was buried in the cemetery on 9th August 1863. A week later, Patrick McCourt, aged 17, who also died at Edmunds Main, was buried on August 21st 1863, and later on in the October of the same year, a group of 4 men also killed at Edmunds Main were buried in a communal grave.

The Friends intend to spend most of 2010 gathering information and planning events for the 150th Anniversary year. To help with this the Friends are asking for people to get in touch if they have any information on anybody with a mining connection who is buried in the cemetery. Any information on the mines would also be welcome. The group has acquired images of a serviette commemorating the Wharncliffe Woodmoor disaster of 1936 and a memorial plaque to 2 men, possibly brothers, who were killed in the Oaks disaster of 1866 from Barnsley Archives and Local Studies which will be on display during the year.