Wisbech Society is helping to preserve the disused Wisbech General Cemetery site off North End with plans for a new entrance, dedicated to one of the town’s benefactors.
The Society has bought the land which forms the access and plans to raise funds for a new and more imposing entrance from North End in front of the chapel with new gates and railings, a pathway and planting.
The aim is to open up the area and help to make people aware that the historic site is there.
The entrance will be known as Lambert’s Walk after Basil Lambert.
Mr Lambert was a long-standing member of the Society who was the penultimate person buried in the cemetery.
He bequeathed a significant sum to help the Society in it’s work to support the preservation of Wisbech.
The Society has provided financial support and encouragement to the Friends of Wisbech General Cemetery since their formation in 1992.
Friends’ secretary, Sarah Ledger, said: “We are delighted that Wisbech Society is able to continue to support the preservation and improvement of this part of the heritage of the town.”
Buying the land and constructing the entrance is the first phase of the society’s plans for the site.
Chairman Ray Johnson said: “The Society intends, as phase two of the project, to save the derelict chapel and create a sustainable resource for the benefit of the wider community.”
The cemetery is owned by Fenland Council.
Councillor Simon King, Cabinet member for Conservation and Derelict Buildings, said: “Fenland Council, as owner of the cemetery grounds, is most supportive of Wisbech Society’s plans and is actively seeking ways to enable it to implement its plans for the refurbishment and use of the chapel.”
David Crouch, Society treasurer and honorary project manager, added: “We are seeking the continuing support of interested people and organisations, including descendents of those buried in the cemetery.”
The cemetery was established at North End in 1836 and the Wisbech General Cemetery company was formed in 1841 to manage the site, which was one of the first commercial cemeteries in England.
The chapel was added in 1848 and the cemetery was closed in 1972. A new building had already been added on to the land forming a section of this frontage which limited the access and obscured the Doric chapel.
The Society was able to go ahead with its purchase when this disused building went up for sale.
Citizen photographer Paul Marsh was invited to the cemetery site on Thursday where members of Wisbech Society and the Friends gathered for a photo shoot to mark the purchase and planned work.
Pictured outside the front of Wisbech General Cemetery are (from the left): Bill Knowles, Eric Somerville, Roger Powell, Ray Johnson (Wisbech Society chairman), Sue Beel (chair of the Friends), Gail Ruston, Mike Theobold, David Crouch, Paul Eden, Sarah Ledger and Flo Thatcher