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

Thursday 4 May

Alan and Andy decided to go in today to start the Burt (958) grave and finish off the Coombs (959). The first job was to dig over the surface we did on Sunday to clear the remaining roots and weeds from the Coombs grave, membrane was then laid. Nine bags of stone chipping are required to cover this large grave area, they were collected from the local quarry and laid in the grave, what an improvement to the appearance of the memorial this has made. The Burt memorial like the Coombs is a fine example of early 1900s memorial work, covering 8 feet by 8 feet with kerbs and a large ornate headstone standing in the middle. Unfortunately, over time the kerbs have broken and fallen out of position and the 6 feet high head stone is now down and in three pieces, two thirds on the grave and a third outside. It was decided the pieces of headstone should be moved on to the concrete hard stand of the plot so that it could be laid flat and pushed back together so that the inscription can be seen, plus be safe from further damage. With levers and rollers the three parts were moved into position. The sunken kerbs were dug out, three were broken one in many pieces. Padstones were put in position to carry the kerbs and the kerbs will be cemented back in position when next in the cemetery. Andy took some photos of the days efforts, he and Alan then went home pleased with their work.

Sunday 7 May

Alan, Andy and Dave in today. Their first task was to cement the kerb stones back in place around the Burt (958) grave. Dave collected 4 wheelbarrows of earth to bank up around the kerbs and level out the ground around the grave. It is hoped Alan and Andy will be able to go in mid-week to finish off the final touches and cement the cracks and gaps around the kerbs. The Manchip (957) headstone next to the Burt grave is facedown. It was levered up to confirm it was the Manchip grave and packed level to improve the look. The Broadrick grave (956) next to it was also tidied up. It was decided that the Slocombe (906a) headstone, broken in two, should be levelled and packed so that the inscription could be read. The Mockridge grave (960) also given a tidy. Although it was hot and Alan & Andy were tired, they decided to tackle the Hooker (961) grave kerb stones which had sunk badly. The kerbs were dug out, pad-stones put in and the kerbs put back in place. The finished job well worth the effort. Andy still with a little energy took photos of the memorials we had worked on. We were pleased to see John come in for a visit, sadly his bad shoulder is no better, but nice that he came in for a chat.

Monday 8 May

Some pictures of the newly cut grass, the bluebell wood and part of the wildflower meadow.

Tuesday 9 May

Some more pictures of the bluebells, not quite a 'bluebell wood' yet, but given a few years these should spread around the shadey area. We planted the English variety of bluebells, as opposed to the more common and larger Spanish bluebell.

Friday 12 May

The Friends held a service to dedicate a memorial to the memory of Dr Peter Cattermole.

Saturday 13 May

The Friends held our annual Spring Walking Tour.

Sunday 14 May

Dave, Astrid, Parsley, Michelle and Miles working in the cemetery today. Our task was to free the new hedge along the south boundary of the Paupers' graveyard from a mass of nettles and emerging brambles. The hedge was planted only last year in April. It has come a long way in the year, but still needs a little help to fully establish itself. Dave and Astrid set about cutting back the weeds, while Michelle and Miles raked up the debris.

About two thirds of the way through the morning Miles managed to get out of his very rare working duties, as we were visited by Mr and Mrs Coles and little Isaac. They had come in to have a chat about helping the Friends with fundraising through possibly holding an outdoor cinema in the cemetery sometime in the future. They've done this sort of thing before at Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol. After having a look round, it seems as if there's no practical reason it might not happen, although we'll need to take the possibility to the committee, to the council and other interested parties. Little Isaac amused himself finding snails, ladybirds, spiders, a feather and kicking a ball for Parsley.

Having enjoyed the sunshine all morning everyone headed for home at lunchtime, just as the heavens opened.

Sunday 14 May

Alan and Andy unable to make it to the work party on Sunday where the group tackled the weeds, brambles and nettles that were taking over the new hedgerow that the Friends planted last year, what an excellent job they did.

Alan and Andy decided to go in today to sort out the Stone grave (56) which is next to the wall by the first house on the left as you enter the cemetery. The small headstone was laid down and the kerbs fallen over. The landing on which the kerbs sat had subsided. The first job was to remove the kerbs and headstone so that the landing could be levelled and packed, this done, the next job was to cement the kerbs and posts back into position and lay the headstone flat in the grave.

Membrane and stone chipping added, and what an improvement this has made. Andy took some photos but complained because it was too sunny!

There is a small plaque next to the Stone grave, Alfred Boobier (63). There is also a Boobier grave in Section A Row 4 Plot 1a, Rita has looked on Ancestry and found that Alfred's wife and son are buried here. It is likely that Alfred is also buried here and that the plaque was moved for safety reasons, it may pay to have a look to see the possibilities of moving the small plaque to the plot where his wife and son are as there are no markers for them.

Sunday 21 May

Alan not able to make it to the cemetery today. Dave and Andy were in plus John who popped in to see how things were going. They only stayed a short time as they had others things to do later that day. A bit of cleaning and tidying carried out, a job always appreciated. Dave also prepared the kerb stone on the Bryant (51/955) in Plan 7 Non- Conformist section, a grave with granite kerbs and posts all of which had been either knocked over or buried. We will sort this grave out over the next couple of weeks.

Thursday 24 May

A lovely bright and hot sunny day. Alan and Andy felt it was ideal weather to work on some memorials in St. Mary's Section A, on the left as you enter the cemetery. The Boobier (12/63) a small plaque found by the wall of the house next to the cemetery was moved to its correct position next to the main path and given a quick clean, once a base slab is purchased the plaque will be cemented back in place.

Next to be tackled was the Hancock (27/61) a grave filled with green glass chippings, work required to cement the kerbs, posts and slopping name plaque back into position as over time they had come apart. After the old cement that had held the kerbs etc. had been chipped away it was a simple job to cement them back into position and back fill the green chipping. Job finished, now looking much the same as it did in the 1955s. when first laid down.

The Marks (40/75) grave close by, had one of the posts knocked out of position, with a little cement left over the post cemented back into place. Pleased with their efforts and with the sun still beating down they decided to move on to the Cottrell (42/77) and Washer 43/78) graves that are side by side, both landings had sunk and needed to be lifted where they met in the middle. Holes were dug to allow lever bars to be placed under the landings to enable them to be levered up and packed, the job went a lot easier than expected and in a short time both landings were level. The next job will be to clean and cement the kerb sets back into position but this is for another day.

Sunday 28 May

Rita holding an odd little purple flower among the large number of poppies that have sprung up in the bluebell area.

Today we had the company of Rita who has not been able to do anything in the cemetery for some time. With Rita were Alan, Andy and Dave. The first job for the boy's today was finish off the Washer (43/178) and the Cottrell (42/77) graves started last week. Both graves were back filled with earth and the kerbs and posts cemented back into position, all that is needed now is membrane and stone chipping. The next grave tackled was the Pitman (14/49) the kerb stones and sloping name tablet were all in a sorry state. The first job was remove all the buried memorial stones and the concrete slab on the grave landing. The landing had sunk badly one side, this was levered up and packed so that it was level. All the kerbs, posts and sloping name tablet were then cemented back in their rightful position and what an improvement this has made not just to the Pitman grave but to the area as a whole. A new base slab has been obtained for the Boobier (12/63), a small memorial stone recently found and placed back in its rightful position from information found by the Friends.

The Washer and Cottrell memorials in progress.

While the boys were hard at work, Rita was weeding and cleaning graves in Section A in the area where the boys were working. Before work finished for the day, Rita & Andy went up to the bluebell corner to see the lovely display of the poppies that have come out in flower, they looked wonderful swaying in the breeze. Andy took photos to capture the scene. Pleased with our efforts, it was time to go home for our lunch.

Wednesday 31 May

Alan emailed Andy to ask if he was available to go in the cemetery, he was. On the way to the cemetery Alan picked up 8 bags of chipping from Cannington Quarry. First job was to back fill the Washer 43/78 and Cottrell 42/77 graves with earth which took 3 barrow loads. While Andy laid the membrane and topped the graves with stone chipping, Alan washed the granite chipping removed from the Pitman grave 14/49, as they were very muddy. Once cleaned they were returned to the grave ready for a photo.

It was decided to move the Gillingham 18/52 headstone that was laid down so that it fitted inside the kerbs, one reason for safety, the other that it would look far better. Using rollers the headstone was moved out of the way, the area inside the kerbs was cleared of weeds and grass and the headstone was moved back between the kerbs. It was decided it would be better if the top of the headstone was raised to allow rain water to roll off, this was done by adding a brick or two underneath. Andy gave the headstone a good clean ready for a photo. The Badcock 16/48 a large headstone laid down in Row 4, but it's actual position should be in Row 5, so with rollers the headstone was easily moved and rolled into its correct position.

Before making their way home, Alan & Andy had a little rest and took a look around the cemetery, the Hill grave in Section A 32/67 will be the next to be tidied up, this has an inscription for Albert the grandson of Albert and Elizabeth Hill who was killed in France. March 1918 aged 19 years. The inside of the grave needs to be made good with membrane and stone chipping added. A stone slab was discovered buried next to a tree by the pantomime wall, further investigation required here to see if it is a buried headstone. After putting up a new poster on the front gate advertising the Friends Guide Book 'A Walk in the Wembdon Road Cemetery', they made their way home.

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