Plan to dig up historic gates of graveyard

Friends of Park Cemetery Danny Corns and Paul Miller start the search for the cemetery gates.
Friends of Park Cemetery Danny Corns and Paul Miller start the search for the cemetery gates.

A ‘Time Team-style’ investigation is being planned to find the missing historic gates to an Ilkeston graveyard.

The original ornate, wrought iron gates to Park Cemetery were removed decades ago after being hit by a Morris Minor.

After the crash, council officers told cemetery staff to dispose of the damaged gates, which matched some of the original railings, and bury them in a quiet corner of Park Cemetery away from graves.

Now the Friends of Park Cemetery want to dig them up and re-instate them.

Historian Danny Corns, 77, said: “We know roughly where the gates are and that’s in an area about half the size of a football pitch.

“The replacement gates are a bit manky and the originals would be so much better.”

The burial site is also thought to include beer barrels which fell from a lorry as well as boxes of Minton tiles, which were used to cover the floor of the cemetery chapels.

Paul Miller, chairman of the Friends of Park Road Cemetery, said: “There is a suggestion the gates were beyond repair but we think this job can be done.

“They need to be reinstated because the ones we have are not suitable. They just don’t match.”

Since being formed last year, the Friends have organised the restoration of a clock face used to warn of the time gates would be locked at night.

They also helped restore the tiled floor on one of two cemetery chapels, which are linked by an arch under which hearses pass. The stone-built cemetery chapels are on a list of the UK’s most important or historic buildings.

The cemetery opened in 1892 and is still in use today.