Friends of the Wembdon Road Cemetery
Bridgwater, Somerset
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2019 Diary: August

Sunday 3rd August 2019

Alan and Rita in a bit earlier today to take some measurements of the Phillips grave (Section B 73) for our Chairman, and only just early enough to beat Andy who followed a few minutes later. At the usual time in came Astrid, Parsley and Dave.

The lads got cracking carrying on their work on the Kelland and Whitmell graves started last week. The kerbs on the Whitmell grave were levelled and cemented in, the joints covered so the cement will not set too quickly. The cementing done last week on the Kelland grave was uncovered and the centre which was full of grass and weeds dug out and levelled. This will be filled with stone chipping at a later date as we have run out of chipping; meaniing another trip to Cannington Quarry. Earth was placed around the edges of the graves to finish off.

Astrid planted some Ox-eye daisy plants in the recently dug area by our wild flowers then came and helped Rita who was weeding the inside of graves in Sections B and C.

In need of a break we had a walk around the cemetery and noticed that Fine Memorial had been in and repaired the Southwood grave which had been damaged by the mower. (SDC funded the repair).

Sadly it was noticed that the mower has also done quite a bit more damage to graves. These were recorded and photos of the damage taken. It is disappointing and disheartening to find these graves have been hit by the mower without any thought of the hard work done by the Friends on these graves.

Feeling weary we left for home giving Andy and Dave time to get ready to go to Blake Gardens and listen to the Band concert.

Sunday 11 August 2019

A 'full house' again today. Andy was waiting when Alan & Rita arrived, followed by Dave, Astrid and Parsley. Alan took a trip to Cannington Quarry on Monday and purchased stone chipping for the Kelland and Whitmell graves which was our job planned for today. When we got to the cemetery we had a change of plan, mainly because Alan forgot to bring the black membrane! The algae was cleaned off the Whitmell tiered stones so that the inscription could be seen clearly. The boys moved down the path to the Gleed G102 and the Purchase grave G101. They started on the Purchase grave which just had three tiers with the cross missing, the tiers had sunk about 3” or 75 mm on one side. They dug around the tiers down to the base stone, the stone was levered up so that the tiers were level and packed up with bricks, with a final adjustment of slate. The earth was put back in and job done.

The Gleed tier memorial was a lot bigger with part of the cross still attached to the top tier stone and the whole thing had sunk far more than the Purchase grave. It took a lot of digging out to get to the base stone and were surprised to find 2 large base stones supporting the three tiers. Using 6 ft metal poles, Alan and Dave levered the base stones so they were level and Andy packed the gap with concrete blocks. The earth was compacted back, another job well done! Meanwhile - Astrid and Rita were weeding the graves in Section B starting by Smith B3 and working toward the main gate, getting up as far as Lovibond B27 filling 2 black bags. After they stopped for a well earned tea break, they meandered up to the wild flower area where Astrid planted an Ox-eyed Daisy plant she had nurtured from her garden. Big black rain clouds were now forming above us, Dave and Astrid made a hasty retreat followed by Andy. Alan started to clean the Gleed stone and Rita went to look for blackberries but too late, just a few minutes later they both got a soaking when the rain came down, so went off home.

Thursday 16 Auugust

As it was a fine sunny day Alan decided he would go to the cemetery today to finish off the Kelland G110 and Whitmell G108 graves as he had forgotten the membrane on Sunday. The first job was to clean the algae off the Kelland kerbs, next was to weed the inside of both graves, rock salt sprinkled on the surfaces to re-strict the weeds 'hopefully'. Black membrane added and more rock salt sprinkled over the membrane before the stone chipping was added, to finish off the job. The cross and pot block holding the flower holder was cleaned and put back in the Whitmell grave when Andy arrived.

Andy and Alan then decided to search the cemetery for a small cross belonging to the Harold Pengilly grave, a 2 year old boy who died in 1913, that has gone missing. The cross which had been laid down inside the grave was cleaned as it was hoped we would restore the grave stones and re-erect the cross at some time, but sadly it could not be found. Alan and Andy went back to section G where Andy took more photos as the sun had gone behind a cloud. Before they left it was decided to tidy the Vearncombe G98 grave a large headstone that had been laid down, it has an unusual shape having a small cross forming the top of the headstone which had been broken off. The grass around the edges of the headstone was dug away to expose the shape and the broken off small cross although damaged was placed at the base of the headstone after it been given a good brush. It was then agreed it was time to go home.

Sunday 18 August

Alan, Dave and Rita in the cemetery today. It was agreed that the Richards G103 would be started today. This has a large cross which is laid down, the top tier is laid to one side with the base tier sunk badly one side. It will take several work sessions before the base tier is made level. Today's job was to dig out the earth down to the base slab so that it can be levered up and packed, so that the 3 tier blocks will be level. Alan and Dave toiled for over an hour with mattocks and spade to dig down to the level required, although they were interrupted by a few heavy showers. It was decided the 2nd tier stone should be slid off to reduce the weight, so with the help of lever bars this was achieved. It was felt this was as much as they could do today so it was agreed to back fill the area around the grave with earth and grass turf to make the area safe and leave the job of levelling the base stone for next Sunday if weather permits.

Meanwhile Rita was showing Mike, from Bridgwater, who has a number of family members buried in the cemetery the positions of the graves he was researching. Although the exact spots could not be predicted having no headstone, she could pinpoint the graves within a few feet. He took photos of the plots so that he could find them again. She then carried on weeding the graves at the front of the cemetery until it was time to go home.

Sunday 25 August

Alan, Andy, Astrid and Dave in the cemetery today. It was very hot, not the ideal weather to carry out physical work but the lads were determined to finish off the work started on the Richards G103 last week. Astrid and Parsley were given the job of cutting back a large bush that had started to take over an area in section C, a hard job but at least in the shade. (Parsley preferred playing with his ball).

The base stone on the Richards memorial had sunk badly, as it was in a prominent position next to the pathway it was felt it would be nice to restore it to its upright position. Easier said than done! But with levers and concrete blocks the base stone was finally levelled and the three tier stones were slid back into position.

What an improvement, the lads were well pleased with their efforts and agreed it was one of the most difficult tasks they had carried out, but felt the effort was well worth while.

In the meantime Astrid had been busy cutting back the bush filling a large dumpy bag. They all stood back to admire their work before packing up to go home. As Alan and Andy were leaving a couple came in looking for a family grave, but as they had very little information, were given a general idea of where to look and advised when they had more details to contact us again.

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