South Shields Crematorium Open Day

Posted by: Kaye Russell on 12 May 2023 13:28

Members of the public can get a rare opportunity to understand the good practice and care that happens behind the scenes at South Shields Crematorium during a special open day taking place next week (Saturday 20 May).

South Tyneside Council is giving people the chance to learn more about the crematorium on John Reid Road and the way in which it serves the local community, through behind-the-scenes guided tours taking place at 10.30am, 11.30am and 12.30pm.

South Shields Crematorium
Councillor Ernest Gibson in the Crematorium grounds
The refurbished Chapel - Credit: Surgo & GSSArchitecture
The refurbished Chapel - Credit: Surgo & GSSArchitecture

There will be an opportunity for people to look around the premises in a relaxed and informal way, get information on opening times and the facilities available and see examples of the types of memorial available.

Staff from the Council's Bereavement Team, which manages and operates the Borough's cemeteries and crematorium, will also be on hand to explain the systems and procedures used in the daily running of the crematorium, show visitors what happens once the coffin makes its final journey and answer any questions the public may have.

Councillor Ernest Gibson, Lead Member for Transport and Neighbourhoods, said: "South Shields Crematorium plays such a huge role in our community and is the only crematorium to serve the whole of South Tyneside.

"Our dedicated Bereavement Team works hard to support bereaved families and provide a dignified, respectful and sensitive service at what can be an extremely difficult and distressing time in their lives.

"This special open day aims to give people an insight into the work of crematorium staff and help people better understand how they look after our lost loved ones, from the service to their final resting place."

South Shields Crematorium opened in 1962, with the first cremation taking place on 6th July. Since then, more than 82,000 cremations have taken place. The Service currently deals with around 1,500 cremations and 500 burials per year.

Last year, the chapel area underwent an £800,000 refurbishment and extension to help cater for larger funerals. The building's two cremators were also upgraded, not only to accommodate larger coffins, but to provide a more energy efficient model that is helping to reduce the building's carbon emissions by around 240 tonnes per year.

The tour will begin at the chapel doors where bereavement staff will give an insight into how they receive all funerals and prepare to meet different demands and requirements.

Visitors will find out what happens after the curtains close on the coffin, including information about the cremation process with a tour of the committal room, crematory and records room. Visitors can also explore the tranquil gardens and memorial grounds.

Members of the public will also learn how the team uses the latest technology, including music and photo slideshows and how services are live streamed for people who are unable to attend the funeral.

Councillor Gibson added: "This week (8-14 May) is Dying Awareness Week, a national event that encourages people to talk about end of life and grief and to support people to feel comfortable about asking questions and listening to our loved ones about their wishes for when they pass.

"By welcoming residents to the crematorium, we can continue the discussion on dying.

"We hope that this open day will help to remove some of the mystique and mystery, dispel myths and alleviate any fears people may have around what happens behind the scenes at the crematorium. It also gives people the opportunity to raise any questions they may have about what happens when death comes.

"It also offers an ideal opportunity for people to see the improvements we have made over recent years including the newly refurbished chapel and modernised cremators.

"Though losing a loved one is never easy, I'm sure all those who come along will find the tours both fascinating and enlightening."

People can turn up for the tours at the set starting times. There is no need to book.

For further information, contact the Bereavement Services Team, on 0191 427 3190.

Last modified: 12 May 2023 13:34