Friends of the Wembdon Road Cemetery
Bridgwater, Somerset
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2017 Diary: July

Sunday 2 July

Alan & Rita in today, Andy & Dave had other commitments. It was a lovely day, when we arrived a couple were there looking around the cemetery. They were interested in a relative buried in the paupers area, James Kitch who died in 1860. Alan decided work today would be concentrated around the Smallbone grave in Section M (a grave completed last week). The Fursland grave 31/906 immediately behind the Smallbone grave was tackled first. The landing was packed level, all the kerbs cleaned and cemented back into their rightful position.

Alan then started on the Escott 58/941 grave, one side kerb and a broken end kerb had been completely knocked out of position by the mower, the remaining side and end kerbs were buried. All were dug out, new pad stones laid and the kerbs put back into position. There were no inscriptions on the kerbs, and one end kerb was missing. Interestingly there was a large headstone on the ground next to the Escott plot, it was the correct width to fit the Escott grave, and had cement to show that it had been fitted between kerbs, the Escott kerbs had cement where a headstone once stood. Evidence points to the headstone belonging to the Escott plot. Unfortunately, due to time and wear there is no inscription visible on the headstone to confirm identity. When Andy and Dave are next in the cemetery a decision will be made if we slide the headstone across onto the Escott plot.

When Rita wasn't helping Alan, she was busy digging out the weeds and ivy that had taken over the Palmer 20/1234 and Acland 19/1226 graves across the pathway opposite Smallbone in Section L. She also weeded the Howard/Roe grave 93/986 a short distance away which is her family grave.

Pleased with their efforts they packed away the tools, had a second tea break, then left for home but not before Alan looked at the area where the next restoration would take place - Section M Holcombe 34/909, Smith 35/910 and Norman 60/943.

Sunday 9 July

Alan and Rita met Astrid and Parsley in the cemetery, their first task was to agree a priority list out of 11 memorials that Fine Memorials have provided quotes for the Friends to repair in the cemetery. We were shortly joined by Dave and Andy. After some debate the priority list was drawn up for a final choice to be made at the AGM on 21 July. It is likely that we will not financially be able to fund the restoration of all 11 memorials.

This job done, we looked around the cemetery to look at memorials that have been worked on in the past but unfortunately have been damaged, it is thought by the mower when cutting the grass, memorials have been moved, posts and kerbs knocked out of position. Once work on the three graves the Friends are working on at present are finished, priority will be on repairing memorials damaged during grass cutting which is a less heavy and arduous task, plus weeding, removing small brambles that are beginning to overtake graves in parts of the cemetery.

Rita and Astrid put their efforts into weeding at the top end of the cemetery in Section M, bindweed having taken over many of the graves in this area. Dave, Alan and Andy started on the 3 graves in Section M the Holcombe, Smith and Norman graves. The Holcombe grave has a concrete base, over time it has been filled with grass and weeds and one of the kerbs had fallen over. There is a fallen cross which was laid in the grave. The cross was moved, the debris was dug out, padstones uncovered all that is left to do is to cement the kerb back in position.

The next grave to be tackled was the Norman grave, the concrete landing had sunk badly to one side, this levered up and packed, levelled and brushed clean. All that is left to do is to cement the two sides and the end kerb and two posts. The fine headstone which is lying close by has inscriptions which are clear and will be laid flat on the kerbs.

The last and the most difficult was the Smith grave the centre of the grave had sunk badly and the kerbs pushed out of position. The first job was to dig out the concrete slab, back fill the grave with earth to level it so that the concrete slab which had broken in several pieces, could be laid back in. The padstones carrying the kerbs were packed and levelled, the final job will be to cement the kerbs back into place and add stone chipping on top of the concrete slab. It was a hot day but a lot of hard work had been put in.

Thursday 13 July

Andy was in the cemetery when Alan & Rita arrived to finish off the Holcombe and Smith graves. It was nice to see that SDC had cut the grass. Our first task was to cement the Smith kerbs back into position, the broken concrete slab covering the grave was put back together and concrete poured in the cracks. It was decided that stone chipping was needed to cover the broken slab, so Alan and Andy went to the Quarry to collect 8 bags. While they were gone Rita carried on cutting back low hanging branches from nearby trees in the cemetery. On their return from the quarry, two bags of chipping were put in the Smith grave and earth added around the outside of the grave to tidy it up. What a difference our work has made to the appearance of this grave. On to the Holcombe grave where one side and one end kerb was cemented back into position, two bags of stone chipping added and the fallen cross laid back in the grave. Again, what a difference! Andy took photos which will soon be available on the website.

We had a visit from Mr Hunt who was looking for his relatives on his family tree who he was hoping were in the cemetery. It was then decided we had done more than enough for the day and when next in will work on the Martin 33/908 and the Norman grave 60/943.

Sunday 16 July

Alan, Dave and Rita working in the cemetery today. The first job today was to cement the kerbs of the Norman grave 60/943, then Alan and Dave moved over to the Martin 33/908 grave. This has a large granite block headstone and large granite kerbs, which were barely visible under the grass and weeds that had grown up in the centre of the grave. Alan & Dave took turns in digging this out, a long hard task, but they didn't let it beat them and after a while they could see the kerbs which were in good order. Having cleared the centre of the grave they decided to lay down some membrane and fill with stones, another brilliant job done.

While they were completing this task, Rita was on a mission cutting back the saplings from the trees and any low branches that we were hitting our heads on as we walked along the pathway. She had just finished her second tree (having filled 1 and a half dumpy bags) and was glad we could pack up and come home. Two 'visitors' came in to have a chat, John and Andy, they didn't stay too long as they were afraid they would get given a job to do! Andy was too early to take a photo of the completed Norman and Martin graves so that will be his first job when he is in next.

Photo shows the area worked on today. Alan giving the final brush off of the Martin grave and the Norman grave is in the front of the photo, kerbs up awaiting the headstone to be placed on the top when the cement has set.

Thursday 20 July

Having our chairman with us for a couple of days, we made the effort to invite him in for a morning's work. Miles and Michelle did a great morning's work clearing two graves in Section M where we have been working. They first cleared the weeds and grass from the Lees grave 37/912 and then moved on to the Manchip grave 39/914 where, after clearing the weeds, they dug out the stones and bagged them up ready for them to be cleaned and replaced in the grave next time when we are in the cemetery. Rita cleaned out the 92/985 Perrin grave and cleared the saplings and trimmed the low branches of yet another holly tree, this was with the help of Astrid and Parsley, who came in for a chat but stayed and gave us a hand for a while.

Meanwhile Alan & Andy decided to dig up a fallen in kerb stone on the 32/907 Pring grave, they also found the end kerb and they laid both back in position, but lay on their sides as the mower tends to catch this grave so felt they would be safer. As hoped when the kerb was dug up we found the inscription so Rita was called over to record and Andy to photograph.

Alan & Andy then set too levering the Norman headstone back from a grave nearby - placed here while the kerbs were levelled up and cemented into place - and this was laid back on top of the kerbs. They moved on to what they thought would be a quick job in levelling the Caple grave 79/976. Well we all know what thought did, and it took far longer than expected, but by the time we were ready to go home they had cleaned, levelled and even managed to cement the kerbs back into position, they were well pleased with themselves! And Yes it looked good.

We had a visitor who was over the moon to find her family grave right where we were working and has asked us to provide a quote from Fine Memorials for putting up the fallen headstone and sorting the kerbs and posts.

Sunday 23 July

Alan & Rita arrived at the cemetery to be greeted by a shower of rain, but it didn't last for long and stopped soon after Dave arrived. By the time Andy arrived the sun was shining.

The boys set too on the other Caple grave 61/944 just behind the Caple grave they completed on Thursday. Again, this had to be cleared of weeds, kerbs dug out and the base levelled as it had sunk badly on one side. This was levelled, the kerbs placed and cemented back into position and the area around the grave built up with earth and grass seed sown. Another job well done by the boys! Dave started to clear the Mogg and Morrish graves,41/916 & 40/915 of weeds, both sunken one side, will decide next week whether we will pack them up level. Rita during this time having sheltered under an umbrella until the rain stopped, proceeded to clean out the weeds in the Howard 113/986 and Wilkinson 109/1360 graves and cut the grass which was completely covering the Beale 110/1361 stone.

We had visitors again today who have taken our contact and will get back to us when they have found the family surname they are looking for - two/three brothers of his grandmothers who were all killed during the war.

All in all another good working day, but a few more willing volunteers for light duties would be great as we need to keep the graves free from the weeds which seem to sprout up as soon as they are pulled up!

Friday 28 July

Alan met Andy in the cemetery today, Alan wanted to measure and photograph the Peace 64/206 grave Section B, and Davey 38/193 grave Section M to ask Fine Memorials for a quote to restore. While there the stones for the Mogg 41/916 and Manchip 39/914 were washed and cleaned ready to be put back in the graves. Alan also cleaned the Towler 42/917 grave, unfortunately both granite side kerbs and two posts are missing.

The Manchip memorial .

Sunday 30 July

Alan, Dave, Andy & Rita in the cemetery today. Alan & Dave concentrated on the Upton 62/1235 grave, this had sadly deteriorated since last cleared, the kerbs and posts having been hit and pushed out of position by the mower, one post in particular having been knocked and damaged, the centre was overgrown with weeds. The weeds were cleaned out. New pad stones were fitted and the kerbs, head and end stones were cemented back into position, now looks good as new other than the damaged post. The centre needs to be back filled with earth, membrane and stone chipping then added at a later date. Rita & Andy finished clearing the Mogg 41/916 grave and the Morrish 40/915 graves, and the stones were replaced into the Mogg grave. Andy took photos of the recently cleared graves then assisted Dave in clearing the Greenslade grave 5/1364 (Section N) which had been badly damaged by the mower, the kerbs had been pushed out of position and broken in several places. The small green glass stones were bagged up ready for cleaning and the kerbs and posts were lifted in preparation to be cemented back into place. Rita, doing bits and pieces around the place, generally clearing weeds from several graves, and filled in a few holes with earth so we could walk safely around in this area. Rain was forecast for 1 pm so we packed up earlier than usual, and the forecast was half an hour late, so we were on our way just a few minutes before the rain came.

The Mogg memorial.

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