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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

A Funeral in Burslem

Friday, November 27th., Thorpe-le-Soken.

Marguerite and I went down to Burslem for the mater's funeral on Tuesday afternoon.
The mater died about 1 p.m. on Monday.
I learnt from Jennings that the 'last journey' had to be 'the longest', i.e. corpse must always go longest way to cemetery. I asked why. He sniggered: "So as to prolong the agony, I suppose." Real reason nowadays and for long past must be ostentation. We naturally altered this.

Walk down town. Some bricks dry before others. Prominent yellow painted stone-facings of Macintyres. Abolition of most crossings in Waterloo Road, to disgust of residents. I saw new Coliseum Theatre. New window in Mr. Povey's side-room at top of Church St. Church St. was cleaner and better kept.

Funeral. Too soon. Orange light through blinds in front of room. Coffin in centre on two chairs. Covered with flowers. Bad reading, and stumbling of parson. Cliches and halting prayer. Small thin book out of which parson read. In dim light, cheap new carving on oak of coffin seemed like fine oak carving. Sham brass handles on coffin. Horrible lettering. Had to wait after service for hearse to arrive. Men hung their hats on spikes of hearse before coming in. No trouble in carrying coffin. I kept Uncle J.L.'s arm most of the time as he is nearly blind. He told me he still managed 700 accounts. Long walk from cemetery gates to region of chapel.

Burslem Cemetery Chapel

Burslem Cemetery opened in 1879 and covers approximately 11.4 hectares (about 28 acres). When it was opened it was intended to be a "a recreation park, to be used for walking, riding and driving" as well as a cemetery and at least a third of the land was taken up with the lodges, chapel, walks & drives. Only about five and a half acres was laid out for burials.

By the way, the lodge at gates is rented as an ordinary house to a schoolmaster. John Ford's vault next to Longson, with records of his young wives ("the flower fadeth" etc.) This could be exaggerated into a fine story. No sign of any other coffins of course in Longson vault.
Curious jacket and apron of first grave-digger. Second stood apart. Both with hats off. Parson put on a skull-cap.

On return, carriages trotted down slope from cemetery, but walked as we got to houses near Cobridge station. 'Nest Egg Factory' en route. 2 cottages turned into works.

War. Extract from notice signed G.R. and issued from War Office: "Complete second half million and ensure success at home and abroad." And yet a second million is asked for. I ascertained totals of regular recruits up to November 25th. 12,800 applied, and 9,600 were accepted, in Potteries and N'castle.

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