New site and wetland area at historic burial ground

BROOKWOOD Cemetery has always been a picturesque and tranquil place to explore and now there’s a new area to discover at this historic burial ground.

Woking Borough Council has created a beautiful new burial site and wetland area – after removing 7,000 cubic metres of contaminated soil from the land.

Woking Mayor Liam Lyons plants the final tree of the landscaping scheme for the new burial site and wetland area at Brookwood Cemetery

The area was used illegally as a tipping site by the previous owner of the cemetery, before it was acquired by the council in 2014.

It covers five and half acres of the North Cemetery at Brookwood and will be used predominantly for Muslim burials, as other areas in the cemetery begin to reach capacity.

The site has space for 480 individual burial plots spread across two grassland areas. They are linked by a boardwalk that is complete with contemplation spots and benches looking out on to the wetland.

Ian Tomes, the council’s asset manager, said the project had taken three years to complete. “The creation of a wetland has enabled us to turn the site’s complex hydrology into a feature,” he added.

The contaminated site before remediation work was carried out

“The boardwalk design takes into account the site’s fluctuating water levels, and we’ve added marginal aquatic planting to enhance the appearance of the wetland.”

The project was planned and created by property and construction consultants Synergy LLP and landscaping architects Terra Firma Consultancy Ltd.

Dumped material was screened on site to remove contaminants and the cleaned soil used to form two grass-covered mounds above the wetland area, the tops of which will be used for internments.

Mature and established trees on the site – some of which date back to the cemetery’s original plantings in 1852 – continue to play a pivotal role in the design, providing cover for the meandering pathways that connect to the boardwalk.

New plantings include a number of unusual ornamental tree and shrub species that resonate with the cemetery’s Victorian design, along with native shrubs and wildflowers.

The Mayor of Woking, Liam Lyons, planted the final tree during a ceremony to mark the completion of the project attended by members of the Brookwood Cemetery team, representatives from each of the specialist contractors and community representatives.

One of the boardwalks that winds through the wetland area

This wonderful new wetland and burial area will further enhance one of the borough’s greatest historic assets,” he said. “I congratulate you all for your efforts and think you’ve done an amazing job, not only in returning this part of cemetery back to public use but also in transforming it into a beautiful, nurturing space that will support the grieving or anyone looking to find comfort in nature and the outdoors.”

The project has had another benefit to the 170-year old cemetery. As Ian Tomes explained, “We had to widen the main entrance of the North Cemetery to get vehicles and machinery on and off site,” Ian explained.

“We used this opportunity not only to improve the appearance of the main entrance but also to make reference the cemetery’s historic railway.

“Paving that forms part of the new road surface mimics the tracks of the London Necropolis Railway that brought Victorian mourners and the deceased to Brookwood from London.

“The tree-lined route which the trains took has been emphasised, making it much easier for visitors to identify and appreciate.”

The new burial site and wetland area are in the North Cemetery, between Eastern Avenue and the railway line. It is marked as plot 112 on the site map available on Brookwood Cemetery’s website www.brookwoodcemetery.com.

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