Edgerton Cemetery

A Brief History

(This brief introduction is based on a presentation by Roger Gill, a former webmaster, who carried out much research on Edgerton Cemetery.)

Demand for burial space in the 19th century led to the creation of Municipal Cemeteries. Until this time the main burial grounds in Huddersfield were St Peters Church and Holy Trinity at Highfield. The Huddersfield Improvement Commissioners recognised that there were graveyards in the centre of the town of Huddersfield, where every fresh interment was made by disturbing and likely mutilating some previous occupant of the soil.

On 13 September 1852, at 5:00 pm, a Special General Meeting of the Improvement Commissioners was held for taking possession of the twelve acres of land from the agents of Sir J. W. Ramsden, the Ramsden family being the freeholders of the majority of the town at that time.

In March 1853, the Improvement Commissioners advertised for tenders for the construction of Enclosure Walls and the Cemetery Chapels. James Pritchitt was appointed architect. He had previously planned York City Cemetery and Huddersfield Railway Station.

The plan included a church chapel connected to a dissenting, which is to say non-Anglican, chapel by means of a crowned arch. It was this crowned arch that was to become the subject of much controversy. The Vicar of Huddersfield, Reverend Bateman, objected strongly to the Church of England performing any ceremony in a building attached to a Non-Conformist building. 

In 1855 the Huddersfield Chronicle reported a “Settlement of the Cemetery Dispute”. Apparently, the Bishop of Ripon was satisfied that the dispute in reference to the position of the two chapels had been settled. Rather than using a crowned arch, “… the Improvement Commissioners have agreed to detach the two chapels from the main or central tower by a foot, a veritable twelve inches on each side. By this means it is considered that the church will not be contaminated by a ‘brick and mortar’ connection with dissent, and as the dissenters do not consider that they will be damaged by this foot of separation from the mother church, all parties will be satisfied, and none injured by granting the concession.”

From October 1855,  “On Monday last the public cemetery at Edgerton, for the Township of Huddersfield, was formally opened for the purpose of Interments. The cemetery contains some 12 ½ acres, surrounded on three sides by a stone wall, and on the fourth side a dwarf wall, with handsome railings and stone pillars. The cost of the cemetery, including land and enclosing, the chapels (two), lodges, formation, and planting, closely approximates £13,000.”

Those nearest the chapels paid most for their plots. Thus, the way the cemetery was arranged tells you how Victorian society was arranged. There were nine different areas in the cemetery, all arranged by a scale of fees. If you were very rich you would be buried in the most expensive area leading down from the gateway to the chapel.

One notable monument in the Cemetery is the Booth Factory Fire Memorial

The factory fire occurred on 31 October 1941 in the town of Huddersfield, inside the H Booth & Son factory. The fire was caused by a smoker’s pipe left alight inside a raincoat pocket when work had just commenced. It destroyed the building and killed 49 people, most of them women and young girls, many of whom were trapped in the upper floors of the five storey building as it did not have a fire escape.