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Coventry’s Shame!

 
    These pages are devoted to Historic Buildings and areas of Coventry that are suffering from neglect or ill treatment.
 


The shameful state of London Road Cemetery

 
  If you have relations buried in Coventry’s historic and beautiful London Road Cemetery you will no doubt be upset to see photos of gravestones tied to metal stakes driven into the ground and defaced by large yellow stickers. Many of these graves are only a few years old, so it is hard to understand how they can be unsafe.   Graves in London Road Cemetery

London Road Cemetery, Coventry.

 

It is interesting to note that the graves which I saw in the older part of the cemetery, many of which actually look unsafe, leaning at odd angles or collapsing into the graves have not even been looked at yet.

According to a Council safety review every gravestone is to be tested and many families will be charged £112 to make them safe. This involves laying the gravestones flat and as many graves have inscriptions on both sides it will mean the tragic loss of information for family research as well as loved ones memorial inscriptions being permanently hidden. There are about 50,000 plots at London Road so many bereaved families are left dealing with the added upset and extra expense that this has caused.

The council has written to the Grave Owners at their last known address only allowing one month to reply, but as some of the graves date from 1847 it seems unlikely they will have much luck. So when relations who no longer live locally visit they will doubly upset as it could look like damage caused by vandals.

The state of neglect in the old part of the cemetery is very apparent ivy covered graves may look attractive, but some stones are completely obscured who knows what damage the ivy has done to the already delicate stonework. Even the grave of James Starley is in need of repair. (James Starley (1831-1881) was an inventor and manufacturer often call the father of the modern bicycle. It was his inventions and improvements made bicycles practical and popular. Starley also invented they tricycle and improved the sewing machine.)

  Historic Ivy obscured grave, London Road Cemetery, Coventry

 

Update August 2005

Anyone with relations buried at London Road will be please to know that work to fix “unsafe” memorials has for the moment been suspended. This is as a direct result of the many complaints from relations shocked to find gravestones covered in tape or even placed down flat on the ground. The council are at the moment drawing up their own set of guidelines which hopefully will stop the number of recent gravestones being deemed unsafe and many newly bereaved facing large stonemasons bills.

Monday 15th May 2005 Vandal’s damage Historic Cemetery

Vandals have caused thousands of pounds damage to the old part of London Road Cemetery. Nearly 30 graves were attacked some had bricks thrown at them while others were kicked over, flowers were removed and destroyed.

The police said that the vandals had been drinking on the steps of the nonconformist chapel and it was around this area that the damage started. Further damage was then caused as they headed towards Quarryfield Lane.

Tragically the graves affected are some of the oldest in the cemetery, this makes it unlikely that relatives will ever been found and the damage repaired. Anyone who thinks their relative’s graves may be affected can contact Canley Crematorium as they hold records of the vandalised graves, on 024 7629 4400 or 4401.

The History of London Road Cemetery

The Cemetery opened in 1847 and it was landscaped by Sir Joseph Paxton at the site of an old quarry near to the old London turnpike. Although an old quarry would not seem like an ideal place for a cemetery Sir Joseph used the terrain to create a beautiful haven for the dead. The arrangement of trees and curving pathways gives it more the feel of a park and it is often so peaceful that is doesn’t feel as if you are in the middle of a City, or next to the busy London Road and London-Birmingham railway.

At the Cemetery's main entrance there is a Lodge and two chapels, Anglican and Non-Conformist possibly designed by George Stokes Son in Law of Sir Joseph Paxton. There are two extensions to the original cemetery; the first created in 1887, the second in 1929.

  Anglican Chapel, London Road Cemetery, Coventry
Anglican Chapel, London Road Cemetery. Coventry
 
  The Grave of James Starley, London Road Cemetery, Coventry. James Starley (1831-1881)  
     
The Non-Conformist Chapel, London Road Cemetery, Coventry

Non-Conformist Chapel, London Road Cemetery, Coventry

 

 

 

 
The grave of James Starley
 
James Starley - was an inventor and manufacturer often call the father of the modern bicycle. It was his inventions and improvements made bicycles practical and popular. Starley also invented the tricycle and improved the sewing machine.

Lost the Gravestone of former Coventry Mayor

 

Thomas Luckman Mayor of Coventry 1782-83. Thomas married Mary Parry at Holy Trinity Coventry on the 7th Mary 1783 and he was buried on the 14th June 1784 in part of Holy Trinity’s graveyard that was once belonged to St Mary’s Priory and Coventry’s first Cathedral. His wife joined him on the 6th July 1813.

Over the following years the grave became lost and was only discovered in 1999 during the excavations at St Mary’s. Now it would appear that the gravestone has been lost again even though it is of considerable weight and size. Many of the stones removed from the graveyard have since been moved to London Road Cemetery but unfortunately Mr & Mrs Luckman’s tribute was not one of them and no trace of it has been found.

Update August 2005

The gravestone of Thomas Luckman is still missing and the council have admitted they have no idea of its fate, although they have apologised for its loss. The Council also confessed that no records of the stone were kept so they have no way to trace it’s movements at the site or its removal. The Luckman families’ stone may not have been the only stone to go missing, but it seems that only the larger stones were affected, could they have been stolen? Perhaps skimmed to be used again by unscrupulous stone masons? If anyone should catch sight of this elusive stone I am sure Mr Luckman’s relations would be delighted.

Update October 2005


It has now come to light that as many as 50 grave stones could be missing from the historic graveyard. Apparently there were plans to use some of our ancestor’s grave stones as paving slabs as part of the Phoenix initiative, this plan however was abandoned and the stones were subsequently lost. The staff responsible no longer work for the council so there is now no way to discover how or where these stones may be now.