Work has started for a new crematorium, funeral chapel and car park in Whalley, but the relatives of loved ones buried at the site are heartbroken and angry that unmarked graves are being disturbed.
All Faiths Remembrance Parks Ltd purchased the cemetery, which is the final resting place of 995 Calderstones Hospital patients.
Community leader and Whalley resident, Mel Diack MBE, said: “It’s sickening. This is consecrated ground. We don’t want to see any graves disturbed and we do not wish to see any bodies exhumed. They have already put the foundations of a section of the car park over grave 1940 and we are almost certain that they have gone through a ‘Garden of Remembrance’ with several hundred former patients urns.
“According to the 1902/1952 Crematorium Act it is illegal to work on consecrated ground with the aim of building a crematorium.”
Similar concerns have been expressed by Mr David Brierley-Green, whose aunt is buried at the site. He said: “My aunt died in the Calderstones Hospital in 1924 at the age of 21. Now, she is being desecrated after death.”
Angela Dunn, general manager of All Faiths Remembrance Parks Ltd, has admitted no further work will be carried out until it is authorised. She explained: “Over the Christmas period the War Graves Commission made a request to our contractor to improve the access to the War Graves Cemetery. Unfortunately, whilst taking care not to cause any disturbance over graves previously marked on the site, they did carry out some additional works associated with the access for the War Graves Cemetery. I have now received a full explanation and apology from the contractor in writing that no further work will take place until it is authorised.”
She added: “We are in ongoing discussions with the relevant organisations to ensure that all works being carried out on the site are compliant with current legislation; prior to any works taking place in the cemetery area we will be following a statutory consultation period.”