WORK to develop a historic cemetery as an attractive open space to be enjoyed by local people has been given a boost.
New eye-catching ornate metal gates have been installed at each of the four main entrances to the North Cemetery, close to the centre of Hartlepool.
Pupils from nearby Sacred Heart and Jesmond Gardens Primary Schools worked with metalworkers/blacksmiths Dave Stephenson and Brian Russell to design the gates which are the latest element of a major improvement drive spearheaded by the Friends of North Cemetery group.
The community group is working closely with a range of organisations, including Hartlepool Borough Council, to implement a masterplan that aims to reduce cemetery users’ fear of crime by tackling vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
The masterplan also seeks to address maintenance issues in the cemetery, increase bio-diversity and involve children and young people in the development of projects.
Jane Shaw, chairwoman of the Friends of North Cemetery, said: “We are delighted with the new gates and I would like to congratulate the pupils who have worked so well with Dave Stephenson.
“The gates complement a range of other improvements that have already been carried out and we are beginning to see the benefits as the cemetery is becoming a popular recreational space used by many people.”
The gates project was awarded £99,000 from the Big Lottery via the Community Spaces initiative and the designs reflect aspects of the cemetery, including some of the wildlife, flowers and seeds that can be found there.
The gates were officially unveiled by Denise Ogden, the council’s assistant director of neighbourhood services, at a ceremony in the cemetery.
Other improvements include the planting of shrubs, bulbs and saplings, the installation of Victorian-style lighting, work to boundary walls and paths, new seating and bird sculptures created from felled trees.
More than 50,000 burials have taken place in the cemetery, but it is now closed to further interments – other than those that may take place in existing family plots.