A GROUP which aims to maintain and enhance a town cemetery has laid a wreath to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first interment at the site.
Members of the Friends of Stranton Cemetery group came together to mark the landmark anniversary by the side of the first grave.
Since May 1, 1912, there have been 50,338 burials at the Stranton Cemetery site, off Tanfield Road.
The Friends of Stranton Cemetery aims to raise awareness of the site, help ensure it remains a peaceful environment and keep crime to an absolute minimum.
Community leaders say it was important to mark the anniversary, which represents the beginning of a busy year for the friends group.
There are a number of events planned including a butterfly biodiversity walk in June, a bat watch in July and a headstone history walk in November.
There is also a litter pick planned for June 26 and the group will be hosting a torchlight concert of remembrance in December.
The group is also looking for local support and funding to develop a town-wide project to publish self guide materials for walks in all of the cemeteries in Hartlepool and surrounding area.
Meanwhile, members are also developing ideas for making improvements to the Brierton Lane entrance of Stranton Cemetery and supporting the development of a memorial garden in the new cafe, which is expected to open in August inside the Stranton Cemetery Lodge building.
Susan Connor, chairman of Friends of Stranton Cemetery, said: “Though work began to prepare the cemetery a number of years earlier, the first interment in Stranton Cemetery took place on May 1, 1912 and members of Friends of Stranton Cemetery came together with local residents and Iain Wright MP to lay a tribute in remembrance.
“We hope that by encouraging more use of Stranton Cemetery and the other cemeteries in town, we can help challenge anti-social behaviour and promote the areas as green spaces.
“We’d also keen to trace any photographs local people might have of Stranton Cemetery, especially from the early years so if anyone has any pictures we can borrow, please get in touch.
“I’d also like to thank Peter Newstead and the staff who work in the cemetery for their support with our activities.”
Mr Wright said: “From a personal point of view this cemetery is very important as my grandparents and great-grandparents are buried here.
“It is an important place where families can come, pay their respects and contemplate memories of their loved ones.
“It is kept to a really high standard.
“I would also like to pay tribute to the work of the Friends of Stranton Cemetery.”
The next meeting of the group is due to take place on Wednesday, May 16, at 6pm in the Rossmere Tea Rooms, in Rossmere Park, and everyone is welcome to attend.
Anyone interested in getting involved in any of the activities is asked to book a place by calling (01429) 853325 or email firstname.lastname@example.org