In October 2011, the Friends of Lawnswood Cemetery was formed, with the aim of protecting, improving and promoting this storehouse of memories for Leeds. The cemetery opened in 1875 and became Leeds’ premier burial (and later strewing) site. It contains monuments (some magnificent) to many who “made”Leeds– names such as Tetleys (brewing), Hepworth (tailoring – now Next), Kitson (engineering) and Moynihan (surgeon) to name but four. The Victorian section alone contains 12 Mayors & Lord Mayors (the title adopted in 1897), when wealth was essential (join the walk to find out why!).On the first Saturday of each month, “action days” have been held, attended by 20-30 people, to physically counter years of neglect. The graveyard bordered by New Adel Lane and Otley Road (the 1910 extension), has seen verges trimmed back, drains exposed and cleared, leaves raked and shrubs trimmed. The appearance & functionality of the area have been vastly improved – some paths widened by as much as a meter & the drains are now working to reduce flooding.
However, there is much more to be done; it is the problems – broken kerbs, fallen headstones, churned up corners, that one sees, not the improvements. Visit our page on Facebook to see work-in-progress. The appointment of a new head gardener, Chris Raines, at the same time as the group was formed plus the relatively mild winter, allowing routine maintenance to continue more or less uninterrupted during the winter, has also made a big impact.
Shortly after formation the Friends drew up a list of improvements they wish to see. These have been discussed with cemetery officials and some have been introduced. A contract window cleaner has been appointed for the glass corridor between the two chapels. The appearance of the grounds by the entrance/chapel area has noticeably improved. We are told that the reinstatement of the gates, decoration of the waiting room and tidying up of the vandalised area of the Victorian cemetery are imminent.
The Friend’s summer programme of walks aims to share some of the cemetery’s history. The walks, which must be booked in advance are:
June 9 2.00pm “Leeds: City of a thousand trades”: Andrea Hetherington (Chair)
July 1 2.00 pm “The Leeds’ Pals”: Andrea Hetherington
July 29 2.30pm “The Lord Mayors of Leeds”: Ann Lightman (Sec.)
(part of Festival of British Archaeology)
Aug 19 2.00pm “Medical Men of Victorian Leeds”: Kate Vernon (committee)
Sept 9 2.00pm “An introduction to Lawnswood Cemetery” Ann Lightman
(part of Heritage Weekend)
All walks are free to members (membership £5). Non-members pay £3 except for Ann’s walks which are free (donations will be accepted!)
Tel: 0113 261 1363 (Ann Lightman)