Hartshill Cemetery (reflecting the values of Victorian Society)
The architect of the cemetery buildings was Charles Lynam who lived at “The Quarry” on corner of Hartshill Road and Quarry Road. He had a virtual monopoly of the architectural commissions awarded by local public bodies, including the Stoke-upon-Trent Board of Guardians, the North Staffordshire Infirmary, and Stoke-upon-Trent Borough Council.
Biography of Charles Lynam
Lynam was a member of the borough council when the decision was made to proceed with the new cemetery (see introduction). In February 1882 he resigned from the council: “My principal reason for this is that the duties of my position on the council interfere with my business avocations.” Seven months later he was awarded first prize for the design of the new borough market hall in Church Street, Stoke.
One observer suggested that all the designs might be publicly exhibited “so that every competitor might have the opportunity of seeing how fair and impartial the selection has been.” The suggestion was not taken up. In September 1882 the borough council invited architects “to furnish designs, specifications and estimates for two chapels and two lodges proposed to be erected at the new borough cemetery.” A premium of 30 guineas for the first and 15 guineas for the second plan was offered to the competitors.
One local architect suggested that the council should “avail themselves of the advice of an architect in no way connected with the district” to assist them in selected the best design. This proposal was again ignored and in March 1883 Lynam was awarded the first prize. However, two months later the council agreed to accept a new set of designs from Lynam as “the committee has found that the original plans of Mr Lynam for the new cemetery buildings could not very well be carried out.”
Dispute about number of chapels:
There was also a dispute about the number of cemetery chapels to be built. Letters were printed in the Staffordshire Sentinel advocating one chapel for all religious denominations in order to save public money and a public meeting was held to discuss the subject at Stoke Town Hall. At a subsequent council meeting some councillors proposed that the ratepayers should be balloted on this question. Instead the council accepted a petition from the churchwardens at St Peter’s church that there should be one chapel “for church people” and another for “dissenters” and by 14 votes to 7 agreed to build two chapels without consulting the ratepayers. The decision was not unexpected since Colin Minton Campbell, the mayor, and most of the prominent members of the borough council were strong supporters of the Church of England.
The cemetery chapels at Stoke Borough Cemetery,
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