Scores of Gravesend graves sink after weeks of heavy rain

News Shopper: Council employees have been working hard to fill in the sunken graves. Council employees have been working hard to fill in the sunken graves.

SCORES of graves in Gravesend cemetery have sunk after weeks of torrential rain.

Up to 100 plots have been affected with some subsiding as much as 4ft at the site in Old Road West.

Gravesham Council say the numbers this year are unprecedented with whole areas across the cemetery being cordoned off.

Emily Mayer visits her son’s grave once a week, though fortunately it is not one of those which has sunk.

But the retired caterer, who lives in Valley Drive, said: "I would want it put right if it was really bad.

"It would not be a nice thing to have if you have got one of the family here."

Signs at Gravesend cemetery warn visitors to be careful as grass can grow "like a carpet" over some holes.

Site manager Jenny Neesam told News Shopper: "This is happening to other cemeteries in the country but we seem to have been picked on.

"If I knew when it was going to stop raining I could tell you how long it is going to take to sort.

"Unfortunately some of them need filling more than once - some get filled three times and they start to go again."

Creepy images of headstones beside deep trenches show the extent of the phenomenon which normally only affects a small number of graves each year.

News Shopper:

Stuart Alford with one of the sunken plots. 

Gravesham Council’s assistant director for the environment Stuart Alford said: "We have the odd one or two every now and again but having so many in such a short space of time has made quite a large impact."

All fresh graves are overfilled to allow the topsoil to settle but because of the extremely wet winter, some plots going back to the early 1900s have sunk.

Mr Alford said: "This is mainly because they were dug deeper back then so there are more voids into which the heavy soil can sink.

"These are the areas where we’ve had the larger holes appear."

Cemetery staff have been working to fill in the affected graves ever since the numbers of sunken plots started to rise just before Christmas.

They have been joined by members of Team Green - 10 young apprentices taken on for 10 months by the council to be trained in a number of maintenance and practical skills.

A Gravesham Council spokesman said: "It is quite common for graves to sink especially after a period of heavy rain. "However none of the current staff have seen anything on this scale.

"We have been working hard to top up the affected graves using extra staff from other teams.

"It is a gradual process but it is a priority."

The first burial at the cemetery, which has around 10,000 graves, was in 1839 and the 175th anniversary is next month.

Northfleet cemetery in Springhead Road has also been affected but with nothing like the numbers seen in Gravesend.

Anyone who spots a sunken grave which is not being dealt with should call 01474 337491.

Comments (1)

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11:26am Mon 24 Feb 14

Gypo.Joe says...

I blame the undertakers, they use cheap particle board for coffins, then when they get wet a few times the coffin collapses in causing the ground above to settle in.

Dead men ( or women ) don't talk !
I blame the undertakers, they use cheap particle board for coffins, then when they get wet a few times the coffin collapses in causing the ground above to settle in. Dead men ( or women ) don't talk ! Gypo.Joe
  • Score: -20

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