Futurist: Slab is likely to cover a grave

Re ‘The case of the mystery grave’ behind The Futurist article (Scarborough News, May 22).

“The council [is] saying the covenant is no longer in force and only related to a concrete slab.”

As I am the person who has been researching the possibility of what ‘the slab’ could be, for nearly two years, I am in the position to give reasons why a grave is the most likely explanation.

1) The slab has to be significant. The Catlin company would not have bothered to put a legal covenant on just a concrete slab!

The covenant, March 9, 1961, states page 3 clause 2b: “In consideration of the Covenant by the Company contained in clause 3 hereof, the Corporation will not, except with the consent in writing of the company, disturb the concrete slab situate adjoining the said property...”.

Page 4, clause 3: “The Company hereby covenants with the Corporation that they, The Company, will construct at their own expense, a flight of steps from the slab mentioned in clause 2b above to ground level”.

[Incidentally, after no response to my initial request for a copy of the covenant. I had to go via Freedom of Information procedure to obtain it from the council.]

2) Will Catlin’s brother Tom, also known as Thomas Bramham Fox and Thomas Alfred Fox (Catlin being the stage name) died at 12 King Street in 1923 age 39. (I have a copy of the death certificate). 12 King Street (now demolished) is marked on the plan, which accompanies the conveyance, showing the location of the slab. The distance between the two being some 20 yards. Until the conveyance, which transferred the King Street area of land behind the Futurist, to the Corporation, the Catlin company owned the land indicating the houses 12 and 13 King Street.

3) Exhaustive searches of records of alternative burial sites for Thomas in Scarborough, Leicester, his home town and Whitley Bay, his wife’s home town have all proved fruitless.

4) The slab measures 8ft by 4ft 6in. The size of a grave plot. There is no inscription on it. I, together with a friend who is a lawyer and a council official, searched the rear of the Futurist and located it.

It is apparent that the purpose of the ‘slab’ was as a protective cover.

5) One query has been, “Why is it referred to as the slab?” A possible explanation was that in 1923 there was no law to prevent burials anywhere. From the 1950s, I am told, the final resting place has to be recorded so perhaps it was simpler to just be referred to as ‘the slab’.

Harrogate Registry Office have told me that an exhumation order would be required before the site can be disturbed.

It was at this point that Patricia David, leader of Save the Futurist, and myself, realising that the covenant did not, as hoped, relate to a building restriction relevant to the Futurist campaign, searched for and found members of the Catlin family to inform them of the situation.

It is now a moral issue to be resolved between the Catlin family and the council.

Diana Tasker

Weaponness Valley Close