Daventry District Council carries out memorial safety testing in its cemeteries to ensure they are safe places to visit.
Each memorial/headstone is tested to make sure it's not at risk of falling over of injuring someone. The checks happen following several accidents nationally at cemeteries, sadly some fatal, in recent years.
The latest programme of memorial safety testing is taking place in autumn 2019.
Which cemeteries will be included?
All the cemeteries that Daventry District Council manage will be being checked. This is Welton Road Cemetery, Daventry, St Peter & St Paul’s closed church yard in Weedon and St Lawrence’s closed churchyard in Long Buckby. We will put notices up at each cemetery around 4 – 6 weeks before testing takes place.
What does the test consist of?
A specially trained person will be conducting the following as part of the test:
- A visual inspection of the memorial
- A hand test – this is where light pressure is applied by hand and gradually increased until its clear if the memorial will move or not.
- Grading each memorial as 1, 2, or 3.
What are the gradings?
Grade 1: Fail – There is movement and the memorial is not safe.
Grade 2: Pass – There is some movement, but the memorial is safe
Grade 3: Pass – There is no movement.
What happens after the test?
If the test results in a Grade 3: Pass, then nothing more will happen and we will retest the memorial every five years.
If the test results in a Grade 2: Pass, then we will write to the owner of the grave to advise that it may be appropriate for them to seek repairs from a memorial mason to avoid the memorial becoming further weakened. If the stone was installed less than 6 years ago the stone mason may do this free of charge for you as their work is guaranteed under Namm / Bramm regulations for this period of time.
We will retest the memorial in 1 year’s time.
If the test results in a Grade 1: Fail, then our team have a legal obligation to take immediate measures to make the memorial safe. This may include laying the memorial flat, or supporting the memorial by staking and banding it. These are only intended as temporary measures. We will write to grave owners and ask them to make repairs to the memorial via a qualified stone mason, please do not attempt to make these repairs yourself.
What if you can’t get hold of a grave owner?
Unfortunately, some of our records are very old and unless the Cemetery has been officially notified of any change in ownership details, then we may be unable to reach some owners. For these reasons a notice will also be placed on the memorial in question to notify any visitors to the grave in the hope of notifying the owner of the situation and asking them to contact the Council.
What if the permanent repairs are not done within a year by the grave owners?
If no repairs have been done by the family in 12 months for any reason we will ‘sink the memorial in’. This involves digging a trench and burying a third of the memorial in the ground – this is to keep it stable, keep it upright to allow the grounds to be maintained and to keep the memorial from being further damaged. Laying flat or staking and banding is not a long-term fix.
How you can help
If you own a memorial or grave at our cemeteries you can ensure we hold the correct details for contacting you:
- Call 01327 871100 for graves at Welton Road Cemetery
- Contact the church for graves in our closed church yards.
During testing please be extra mindful of your safety in our cemeteries and avoid any cordoned off areas. We will do our utmost to avoid inconveniencing you.