Myself, local historians, the author of "Remembrance - A wartime childhood in Swinton" Dorothy Tildsley and other interested parties have come together with local residents who are upset that the planning application submitted to Salford Council to build an Asda supermarket will mean the removal of the burial ground at the former Swinton Unitarian Church on Swinton Hall Rd. The planning application is reference number 11/61169/FUL and is available to inspect on Salford City Council's website.
The burial ground opposite The Football public house in Swinton contains 313 Swintonians of which we have names of all those resting in peace. The first burial is as far back as 1800's and the last burial was in 1962.
If anyone believes they may have a relative/ancestor resting at this burial ground and you want to know more information I can be contacted on 0161 7948483.
The Swinton Unitarian Church was demolished in 1985 and Swinton Precinct car park was built around the burial ground and church.
The land was covenanted but we believe the covenant has been released and The Disused Burials Grounds Act (Amendment) 1981 applies.
The rights of relatives/descendants are reduced according to this act of parliament after 50 years have lapsed since the last burial which conveniently is 1962 some 50 years ago !
Swinton Unitarian Church
Here is an extract taken from Recollections of Old Swinton
by Peter Holland printed in 1914
The Unitarians have also been established on Swinton Hall Road, their first meeting place was in a stable yard behind Pendlebury House, during the time that James Aspinal Turner Esq., M.P. Lived there. I believe during that time a minister lived in Swinton, but for some cause, unknown to me, the congregation broke up. Sometime afterwards the remnants of the former cause began to meet for worship in a room over a stable at the back of the White Lion Inn. In those days they suffered considerable persecution, being pelted with rotten eggs and the like. This kept many of the faint-hearted ones from joining them. After this the services were removed to the house of Mr. Wm . Boardman, of Temple Lodge Farm, who was at that time the leader and superintendent of the Unitarian body. On anniversary days, if the weather were favourable, the services would be held in the open air; if wet, in the barn. The christening of children at Mr. Boardman's house, by Mr. Boardman was a very common occurrence. Mr. Boardman, was a good, kind-hearted Christian gentleman, and highly respected by all who knew him. He often preached to the Congregation, and his sermons were always much appreciated. After this, they built a School in Jane Lane, near the Roman Catholic Chapel. Over the door there was a stone, on which were cut the words:- “To us, there is but one God, the Father.”
Services were regularly held here on Sundays, and were conducted by students and ministers by arrangement. Amongst some who came to preach were Dr. Beard and Rev. Wm. Gaskell (husband of Mrs. Gaskell, the novelist). Mr. Boardman often taking the services. In 1857 the foundation stones of the present Church and Schools in Swinton Hall Road were laid by James Aspinal Turner, Esq., M.P., since when the work has gone on under the care of many different ministers.
from Recollections of Old Swinton by Peter Holland printed in 1914.
The Swinton Unitarian Church was at the heart of the community around Granville Street in Swinton all now demolished and we have B&Q, Precinct, Aldi etc. The 313 resting at this site are all from the local community and many only a stone throw away from where they once lived.
Swintonians resting in this burial ground clearly chose their final resting place where they once lived. As we say REST IN PEACE !
The burial ground contains 55 plots and 313 burials and the vast majority are family plots. Several generations of the same family resting in their family plot.
I am in liaison too with surviving relatives of some resting, well respected Swinton families that go back generations who have expressed concerns about the proposals.
Significantly, one such family plot is that of Private Wilbrahim Lomax Blears a World War 1 soldier who became injured in France and died from gas poisoning in a military hospital. He died 14th May 1918 aged 22 and was in 13th Kings Liverpool Regiment.
This HERO died for the freedom we have today along with many like him.
He was buried in a family plot at the former Swinton Unitarian Church with his close relatives.
Pte Blears is comemmorated at Southern Cemetery Manchester, by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Because of this his removal legally cannot be prevented.
Dorothy Tildsley author of "Remembrance - A Wartime Childhood in Swinton" who was brought in that area refers to the church in her book (now only available at reference libraries) when under church life she writes and I quote "Memories of the Unitarian Sunday School and church are good ones too."
Yet, in verbal conversations with me those acting on behalf of the owners of Swinton Precinct allege the grounds have no historical significance !!!
I am in contact with Dorothy Tildsley who no longer lives in Swinton, is elderly sent me a message via her daughter Sharon and I quote "Michael - have just been talking to my mum - Dorothy Tildsley. She said that the cemetry has just Unitarian people in it and she is almost sure there will be at least 3 WW1 soldiers in there. She suggested you try to contact the Unitarian church to ask for their help and opinions. She is so angry about these proposals - not heard her this angry for ages LOL. She also told me she is very proud of you for doing what you are doing! Her parents were caretakers for that church and they lived in Granville Street."
The final act of total disrespect for me by those representing the owners of Swinton Precinct for the proposed Asda store is that they allege the land is disrespected by dog owners etc.
There is an element of truth in this. Howver, I explained as the landowners they should be aware there are three wooden poles pertruding where a sign once stood informing local people it was a burial ground. This sign was vandalised many years ago and never replaced, hence why many people just believe its a patch of grass with no significance.
I asked the owners out of respect to those resting in peace, to Swintonians and the town of Swinton to replace the sign and erect a new one and once local people become aware of the significance of the land, due respect would take place by most people. He did not commit himself and implied he said that was not the answer.
A local historian has suggested the grounds be converted into a remembrance garden and I could not think of a more fitting tribute.
Finally, those resting are Swintonians. The last burial was in 1962 which is before the creation of "new Salford". In discussions with the owners they indicated that in the event the remains are exhumed they would be reburied in a Salford cemetery.
They knew nothing of the fact that a cemetery in use exists in Swinton called "Swnton Cemetery". Having explained the historical origins of "new" and "real" Salford at least they have agreed to look into relocating any remains at Swinton cemetery in respect to their identities and where they were born and died.
Of course, the wishes of the descendants and relatives are of paramount importance but if it wasnt for the work we have done am sure some of the things we have secured would never had happened.
I am not against an Asda supermarket but I am opposed if it means the disturbance of those resting in peace at the former Swinton Unitarian Church Chapelyard burial ground. RIP
I can be contacted on 0161 7948483. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org or if you want to join our facebook group you can do so key "No to Asda at Swinton Precinct".
Michael Moulding, The Community Action Party
Let them Rest in Peace !