New life for old mortuary

Mortuary restoration
Mortuary restoration

WORK has started to restore Scarborough’s ‘dead house’ following the allocation of a £50,000 heritage grant.

Contractors are now on site as the facelift begins on the small mortuary chapel in Dean Road Cemetery.

Scenesetter'Dean Rd cemetery-the old mortuary 'Picture by Neil Silk  120956a'01/03/12

Scenesetter'Dean Rd cemetery-the old mortuary 'Picture by Neil Silk 120956a'01/03/12

The grant, awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund late last year, has also enabled the restoration of the Secret Garden, which is now well underway.

The mortuary chapel, known locally as the ‘dead house’ was built in the 1850s for the purpose of laying out bodies before they were buried in the cemetery.

After the building was no longer required as a mortuary, it was used as a gardener’s store, and gradually fell into neglect.

The Friends of Dean Road and Manor Road Cemetery, in partnership with Scarborough Council, saw a future for the building and applied for the grant.

Scarborough builders Iain Harrison Ltd has been appointed as contractors for the restoration project which is expected to take around six weeks to complete.

The secret garden restoration started with clearance work undertaken by the Friends Group, Groundwork Trust and the local Community Payback team.

A new stone seat feature has been installed by Adrian Blant, a local drystone waller with future work to include footpath and pond improvements plus area of new planting.

Jan Cleary, chairman of the Friends Group said: “The Friends of Dean Road and Manor Road Cemetery are delighted that work is starting on the restoration of the mortuary chapel.

“Volunteers have also been working on clearing the secret garden together with designing an education pack exploring the history, art, plants and wildlife in the cemetery, which will be made available to local schools. There will be the opportunity to go inside the restored dead house during our grand open event planned for Sunday, September 9.”

Once restored, it is hoped the chapel will provide a resource for volunteers to care for the cemetery and its historic features.

Paul Thompson, environmental services operations manager for the Council said: “We are proud to support the work of the Friends group. The borough’s cemeteries contain a vast array of history and by working together on projects such as these we are able to preserve and restore Scarborough’s valuable heritage.”