St John’s Cemetery Inspection

Why has the cemetery been inspected?

Cardiff Council is obliged to ensure that cemeteries under its control remain safe places to visit. St John’s cemetery was inspected in June 2009.

Testing of cemeteries is an ongoing task undertaken by the Bereavement Services of Cardiff Council. It currently takes approximately 5 years to complete a whole testing cycle of all Cardiff’s cemeteries, although the cycle is expected to shorten in future to around 3 years.

What has happened as a result of the inspection?

All memorials over 50cm (20 inches) were tested to an agreed industry standard with a calibrated testing instrument. If a memorial was found unsafe it was made safe immediately using the stake and banding method as shown in the photograph. Where that was not possible the memorial was lowered. A notice placed at the memorial has explained what happened.

Applying a stake and band is tried wherever possible as it is less damaging to the cemetery’s appearance. It means the memorial can remain upright, the inscription is visible and families can continue to place flowers at the grave.

Why hasn’t the Council repaired memorials?

Cardiff Council is unable to repair memorials as it does not own them (the memorials are the property of the deceased person’s family or estate). Therefore families need to contact a BRAMM (British Register of Accredited Memorial Masons) member company. BRAMM membership is nationwide and families are advised to shop around, though they may wish to contact the mason that last worked on the memorial as companies sometimes offer a more favourable rate to returning customers.

All memorials fitted since 2000 are installed with a ground anchor system. Any memorial with this is guaranteed and will be fixed back free of charge by the mason. All memorials being repaired now need to include a ground anchor. There will be a cost for this but it will give a guarantee should the memorial become loose again in the future.

In many cases the memorials themselves are not at fault, but the cement joint beneath them breaks causing the memorial to become unsafe.

How long will the stake and banding remain in place?

It is intended that a memorial can be staked until such time as the repair is carried out to the memorial, or when the cemetery is next tested under the Council’s programme. At that stage (between 3 and 5 years from now) staff will make the memorial safe in a more permanent manner. This means removing the stake and either lying the memorial within edgings/kerbs (where the grave has them), or burying the memorial at the head of the grave as illustrated.

The Council does not write to individual families notifying them of the testing or when a memorial fails. Instead, notices in the local press and signs in the cemetery explain the work.

For any questions, Cardiff City Council Bereavement Services can be contacted at Crematorium Lodge, Thornhill Rd, Cardiff, CF14 9UA (Tel: 02920 623294)