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Headstones removed from Alperton Cemetery as graves reclaimed

PUBLISHED: 11:45 14 February 2020

Graves being dug up in Alperton Cemetery. Picture: Jay Burgess

Graves being dug up in Alperton Cemetery. Picture: Jay Burgess

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Visitors to a Wembley cemetery have expressed distress at the sight of graves being “ripped up”.

A contractor working for Brent Council has begun removing headstones at Alperton Cemetery to meet the demand for burial spaces in the borough.

The council sells burial rights on a 50-year lease and the law says plots can be reclaimed after 75 years, if the lease is not renewed.

On Wednesday (February 12), one mourner, who did not wish to be named, said he was visiting his mother's grave when he saw graves being airlifted by "dumper trucks".

"It's unbelievable what they are doing, ripping up people's graves, running over graves. It's very upsetting to see this happen," he said.

Graves being dug up in Alperton Cemetery. Picture: Jay BurgessGraves being dug up in Alperton Cemetery. Picture: Jay Burgess

A contractor at the cemetery told the Times that 300 graves are being reclaimed this year in Alperton Cemetery and Paddington Old Cemetery, although the council has not yet confirmed an official figure.

Brent Council said that the grave reclamation is common across London and a spokesperson said: "Seeing workmen removing old headstones in a cemetery would be an alarming sight for anyone passing by, and we both apologise for any alarm caused and thank them for their concern.

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"Before carrying out this work, we checked our records for the date and depth of the last burial, wrote to those who bought the graves and placed public notices in the cemetery itself and in the Brent and Kilburn Times."

Burial Rights are sold on a 50 year lease in Alperton, Paddington, Willesden & Carpenders Park cemeteries for a minimum £2,662 for someone over 16 - more for non-Brent residents.

If there is room in a burial plot for a second burial, the council will ask the owner of the lease whether they wish to renew.

If the owner does not respond a public notice is placed in a local newspaper.

If the lease is not renewed, the council can remove the gravestone and use the plot again.

A council spokesperson said officers received no opposition to reclaiming graves in the cemetery.

Opened during the First World War in 1917, the 10-acre Alperton Cemetery in Clifford Road has a war grave section maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Old Paddington Cemetery opened in 1855 and is currently recognised in English Heritage's register of historic parks and gardens.

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