A Grave Offence !

Published on by mikemouldingcommunity-action

Campaigners fight for the protection of a Burial Ground containing a War Grave whilst elected representatives in Salford offend their Sacrifice !

Wilbraham L Blears

Wilbraham Lomax Blears died at home in 1918 and was buried buried in Swinton Unitarian Chapelyard.

Initials: W L
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: The King's (Liverpool Regiment)
Unit Text: 13th Bn.
Date of Death: 14/05/1918
Service No: 94397
Additional information: Alternative Commemoration - buried in Swinton Unitarian Chapelyard.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Screen Wall.

He had served with the Manchester Regiment (301901) and the King's Liverpool Regiment (94397

Pte W L Blears - Pictured right

Private W L Blears (pictured right) is laid to rest after sacrificing his life for our country in World War 1, at the former Swinton Unitarian Chapel Yard, in his family burial plot.

The burial plot is defined as a War Grave by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and their ethos is where possible, preservation of their final resting place.

I contacted the CWGC many months ago to inform them of the risk to this War Grave so that appropriate steps can be taken in the event of exhumation.

However, myself and other campaigners from the Friends of Swinton Unitarian Burial Ground and the Swinton Unitarian Preservation Campaign have been fighting for the preservation of the War Grave and the burial ground in respect to the sacrifice this soldier has made.

Pte W L Blears is resting in peace with his family as follows :-

Sarah Blears died 11 July 1865
Ann Blears died 28 April 1873
Elizabeth Blears died 24 May 1873
Wilbraham Blears died 28 March 1889
Alice Brookes died 12 June 1890
Pte W L Blears died 16 May 1918
Elizabeth Blears died 12 Feb 1924

Up until the church was demolished around 1985 all graves at the Unitarian Chapel yard had proper commemoration all with headstones which we believe may now be laid flat after the land was handed over to Salford City Council for them to look after.

As the headstones were laid or removed we know Pte W L Blears is commemmorated for his sacrfice at Southern Cemetery, Manchester.

Many have expressed disgust at Asda's proposal to remove the final resting place of this war hero and this War Grave in the name of profit.

Listed below is some comments made by Labour Councillors on Salford City Council in relation to this burial ground :-

Labour Councillor Derek Antrobus (Swinton North ward)

"When I look at the site which is a patch of grass used by dog walkers and is sandwiched between a shop and two pubs and three car parks I think the proposal of Asda to move the bodies to Swinton Cemetery, where they will be in a proper grave for the first time, will be a considerable improvement." BBC Radio manchester

His justification for removing the final resting place of War hero Pte W L Blears and his offence in saying that his families burial plots have never been proper graves.

Councillor Norbert Potter - Labour councillor for Swinton South ward

"Until January nobody even knew there was a burial site there. And the question we have to ask ourselves if it is saved, who is going to pay for its maintenance". ? It is also on public record that he compared the burial ground to a dog toilet. Salford Advertiser.

I understand Councillor Potter may have sinced apologised for any offence caused.

From Councillor Derek Antrobus Labour Councillor for Swinton North

“Everyone in Swinton will agree that having a burial ground in the middle of a shopping car park is not the way to remember the dead." Salford Labour Party website.

Families of the deceased have contacted Councillor Antrobus to inform him of the continued offence by making such desparaging remarks in such an insensitive manner. They have confirmed they do not want their loved ones removed from their final resting place.

What I find extraordinary is that Councillor Antrobus arrogance is such that he actually believes what he says which has offended many is worth more than the actual families themselves that are affected by the immoral act of exhumation which he has supported.

Other facts relevant to this story :-

The burial ground was handed over to Salford Council for them to look after when the church was demolished in 1985.
An officer from Salford Council confirmed to Michael Moulding that the burial ground was sold "to balance its books".
The Covenant protecting the burial ground from development was relinquished by the church for a fee of £125,000.
Around 1985 we believe the car park was extended around the burial ground by Salford Council. Derek Antrobus was a member of the Council at this time and an elected representative in Swinton and we can find no records of him objecting at the time to this car park surrounding this burial site.
Derek Antrobus in his role as a local historian in Swinton, has used work by Peter Holland, another local historian and artist in Swinton (now deceased). Mr Antrobus has named Peter Holland in his own bibliography's in his work. Peter Holland is resting at the burial site which Mr Antrobus is supporting having his remains removed.
The owners of the burial ground consistently refuse to reinstate a sign marking it as a burial site.
The site has resting victims of the 1885 Clifton Pit Disaster.
Asda believes that by digging up the dead from their final resting place and marking their once presence with a plaque and relocating any remains is a more fitting tribute.
It was I that got a guarantee from the companies that want the deceased removed for profit, that any remains will be reinterred at SWinton cemetery. Their original chosen cemetery to reinterr any found remains was somewhere miles outside the town were most where born, lived and died.

Campaigners are fighting for the preservation, enhancement and conversion to a remembrance garden in recognition of the deceased, for their families and for the town of Swinton as a local heritage site.

RIP 313 Souls resting at the former Swinton Unitarian Chapelyard.

Written by Michael Moulding

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