Whalley cemetery is a ‘national disgrace’

OVERGROWN: Mel Diack fights to improve the condition of a Whalley cemetery.
OVERGROWN: Mel Diack fights to improve the condition of a Whalley cemetery.

A COMMUNITY stalwart has called the condition of a Whalley cemetery a “national disgrace”.

Mel Diack MBE, who is well known for his work with Clitheroe Youth Forum to compile a Remembrance Book of those who lost their lives during the Second World War, has called the state of the cemetery off Mitton Road (formerly Calderstones Cemetery) disgraceful.

Mel Diack in the overgrown Journey's End cemetery in Whalley.

Mel Diack in the overgrown Journey's End cemetery in Whalley.

Called Journey’s End, the cemetery is owned privately, but just beyond it is Whalley Military Cemetery, which is in a pristine condition and well maintained by its owners, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

However, this memorial burial ground for First World War and Second World War soldiers who stayed at Calderstones Hospital can only be accessed through Journey’s End cemetery, which is in a very poor state of repair.

“It is disgraceful,” said Mr Diack. “Remembrance Day is coming soon and the great and good, as well as Royal British Legion members, will be taking the wreaths to the servicemen through basically a forgotten, neglected area which is the final resting place of now forgotten human beings who were unfortunate enough to pass away and be buried in land which, it seems, nobody now cares about.

“It is sickening to be honest! Servicemen and former patients are being forgotten and ignored!”

Journey’s End cemetery was formerly used by Calderstones Hospital as the final resting place for many of its patients. It is believed almost 1,000 people are buried there in now unmarked graves following the removal of head stones by previous owners.

Until this week, Mr Diack feared that the Whalley graveyard had once again been put up for sale by its owners after he discovered it advertised with Peter E. Gilkes estate agents for £385,000.

“So let us suppose that nobody purchases this area with the forgotten near 1,000 former patients and the land gets even worse and totally overgrown,” said Mr Diack.

“How are the Commonwealth War Graves’ gardeners going to even get to the servicemen?”

However, Arthur Morgan, of Skelmersdale-based Remembrance Place (2000) Ltd which owns the site, told the Clitheroe Advertiser that the cemetery had been taken off the market. And he confirmed that the company was committed to its plans to build a crematorium on the site.

Planning permission was granted by Ribble Valley Borough Council in 2011 for the erection of a crematorium and funeral chapel together with car park.

Mr Morgan explained that the plans had been put on hold in order for an x-ray survey of the land to be carried out to pinpoint where exactly the graves are.

He confirmed that the final resting place of these former Calderstones patients would be marked with a garden of remembrance and that he planned to carry out work to tidy up the cemetery as soon as possible.

Mr Morgan added that he would love to hear from any of the relatives of loved ones who are buried at the cemetery as he wants to compile details for a memorial of everyone who is buried there.

Anyone who would like to contact Mr Morgan with information can email him at morgandev@btconnect.com