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Cemetery Cleared for a Driveway

by SteveWednesday, May 06, 2009

One of our visitors submitted the following e-mail to me today regarding a cemetery in the UK that was recently cleared away for road construction...

My name is Alfred, first I wish to thank you for a excellent site which I use every day for both Australia and now the UK your site has saved me countless hours of traveling in Australia and now as I live in Australia I cannot get to the UK can you tell me when Middlesex, London and Northamptonshire are likely to come online.

I recall a incident that I had on a visit to the UK after not knowing where they where buried until I reached 60 years of age to locate my mother and both sets of grand parents at Kensal Green cemetery only to find that the cemetery operators had bulldozed a road to form a roundabout so traffic can turn around They had of course taken the top surface of a number of grave albeit paupers Grave and the small markers that told you who where buried there where just thrown into the bushes nearby so as you can gather my total disgust at this and even more so after sending in writing a protest to the UK Government and told by them that they had no control over this as Kensal Green was a privately owned company I thought you could not desecrate any grave.

So this would be one of the problems you must come across.

Thank you once again for a brilliant site and keep up the good work and hope to hear from you soon.


As to his first question, we don't target specific counties to publish transcriptions in. Rather, if someone sends us a transcription for a cemetery in that county, we'll publish it. So, it all depends on what material people send to us.

As for this cemetery being paved over, it's always a shame to hear of such things. And in fact that's a reason why websites like ours exist, to preserve the information in electronic form in the event of such development.

In the 1930s, the US Government created something called the "Works Progress Administration", otherwise known as the "WPA". It was during the time of the Great Depression, when millions of Americans were without work. The government gave them all jobs. Within the WPA there was a division called the "Historical Records Survey", and believe it or not, this included an effort to preserve abandoned cemeteries in written record.

I ran across microfilms of their work, and read the descriptions they recorded. And this was back in the 1930s, describing cemeteries dating back to the early 1800s, and even late 1700s. They walked through thick brush, and cleared off old tombstones, many of which had been unreadable at that time.

So even as far back as 70 years ago, people had searched for abandoned graveyards in an attempt to preserve them for future researchers.
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Each transcription we publish comes from a single-source, be it the cemetery office, government office, church office, archived document, a tombstone transcriber. Other websites already do an excellent job of crowd-sourcing a single cemetery together. But genealogists also need to see the original records from a single source. That's what we offer.