WORK on a major £1m scheme to revamp a Hartlepool crematorium is set to be complete next month.
Hartlepool Borough Council is overseeing the work at Stranton Cemetery, off Tanfield Road, to replace the cremators which have come to the end of their working life after 17 years.
One has already been installed while work is ongoing to install the other and at the same time the council is installing new equipment designed to clear up emissions from the cremation process.
Council chiefs say the work is necessary to meet European Union regulations.
An extension has been built to house the new equipment and officers say it has been “sympathetically designed” to match the existing building work of Stranton Crematorium.
A council spokesman said: “The improvement works to Stranton Crematorium are progressing well and we expect the scheme to be completed by the end of June 2013.
“This is a significant project costing around of £1m to carry out improvements to one of the town’s most important buildings.
“We are replacing the cremators which have come to the end of their working life after 17 years.
“One of the new cremators has already been installed and is working while the other is being installed and commissioned for use.
“At the same time we are installing mercury abatement equipment, which is designed to clean up emissions from the cremation process and prevent them from being released into the atmosphere.
“This is necessary to meet new European Union regulations.
“To accommodate this new equipment we needed to build an extension which was sympathetically designed to match the existing building.”
A one-hour gap instead of the usual 40-minute break between funerals is in place during the construction work.
The council spokesman added: “We have introduced a one hour gap, normally 40 minutes, between funerals for the duration of the construction works and liaised with all the funeral directors in this respect and this is working well.”
The £1m improvement work to Stranton Crematorium comes at the same time the council has spent £280,000 on transforming the Stranton Cemetery Lodge building, within Stranton Cemetery, into a new coffee house called Inspirations.
It is part of the new garden centre development.