• Norwood Forum

West Norwood Cemetery NHLF works: spring 2023 update

We have reported on a number of occasions on progress since 2019 with the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) project at West Norwood Cemetery, which seeks to conserve the Cemetery’s magnificent landscape and built structures, as well as offer new experiences and facilities to increase community use.

The project is due to finish in spring/summer 2024, and we are now very concerned at the lack of progress on building the planned Visitors Centre (an extension to and conversion of the existing Lodge at the main entrance) and providing the two entrances at Hubbard Road and Robson Road, as well as at the likely escalating costs. In particular, local residents have been waiting for the much anticipated new Robson Road entrance, on which no work has been undertaken on the ground since December 2021.

The various works were divided by the Council into a number of works packages, and this is the current position (the packages are reported in chronological order):

Package C: restoration of two monuments:
Works to restore both the William Charles Auffrey/Edith O’Gorman and James Baldwin Brown tombs were completed to an excellent standard  by Sally Strachey Historic Conservation by Christmas 2021. Both monuments have now been removed from the Heritage at Risk Register.

Package B:Drainage and paths works:
Due by December 2021, these extensive Cemetery-wide works were completed in May 2022 by idverde (the contractor) and within budget, achieving a small saving. The snagging works have yet to be completed and we have suggested the following for inclusion: poor camber on Church Road near the River Effra plaque which causes rainwater pooling, cracking along St. Mary At Hill Path and cracking paintwork on railings at Reddins Hill.

Package A1: St. Stephens Chapel and 14 monuments:
These extensive renovation and conservation works of the Chapel in the Greek Enclosure are also being undertaken by Sally Strachey Historic Conservation. As well as works to conserve and repair the Chapel and bring it back into use, an accessible entrance and other facilities are being provided. The Chapel is being converted to a flexible space for events, functions, installations and exhibitions. In 2019, ownership of the Greek Enclosure was transferred from the Greek community trustees to Lambeth Council.

Works commenced on site in March 2022 with an original contract completion date of December 2022. An extension of time to May/June 2023 has however been necessary - due we understand from published reports to necessary underpinning works. The adverse weather (both freezing temperatures and snow) has also slowed these works and the renovation of the further 14 heritage listed at risk monuments.

The concurrent monuments programme was re-sequenced as a result of the delays to the works to St. Stephens Chapel. The position on the monuments as at the beginning of March 2023 was:

• Captain John Wimble: additional works completed, awaiting new masts
• Henry Grissell: 95% complete painting and indents to be completed
• Mrs Alice Moffat: 100% pending approval paint sample and decorations
• Elizabeth King – 100% complete
• James Kershaw – 95% railings installed, pea shingle to be added
• John & Virginia Schillizi – 95% complete, pointing sample to be approved to match pink tone
• Michael Emanuel Rodacananchi – 95% complete missing pier ordered, still waiting for granite delivery
• Xenophon E Balli – 50% - cleaning, pointing, glazing, marble door and reveal to do.
• Thomas Ibbotson – not started*
• Johann and Annie Sparenborg – 60% Cleaning and pointing to do
• Christopher Gabriel 90%
• George Dodd – 10% pointing, cleaning, kerb and additional works to do
• William Grane –100% complete (underpinning only)
• John Stevens –100% complete

* Update; works started w/c 27.03.23

The additional costs arising from the above issues have yet to be reported.

Package A2: Visitors Centre, Hubbard Road and Robson Road entrances and boundary wall works:
The Lodge building at the Cemetery gate is to be extended and converted to a Visitors Centre to provide facilities for visitors and volunteers to learn about, and enjoy, the cemetery's rich heritage and environment. The Hubbard Road entrance (closed since the 1920’s) is to be reopened, and a new entrance installed on Robson Road (at the north-eastern corner of the Cemetery, adjacent to the Parkhall Business Centre). Repairs and conservation works are due to be undertaken to the boundary walls, railings and gates.

The letting of this large package of works has been delayed extensively. Recent slippage from July 2022 to December 2022 has been reported to the Scheme of Management Committee but the implications have yet to be considered. The pre-tender estimated value rose from £1.55m (May 2022) to £2.18m (July 2022) and the outcome of the actual tendering exercise conducted before Christmas 2022 has not been determined.

We are now very concerned with the delays to this essential package of works and at the likely further escalating costs, and have made representations accordingly.

An integral part of the NLHF project is the conservation plan, which forms part of the Land Management Strategy to meet the provisions of the 1996 Scheme of Management for the Cemetery. We understand officers will be reporting to the Implementation Board with a proposed grounds management and maintenance plan.

Lastly, we want to highlight the wide range of events being held in the Cemetery all the time. Most events are free. You can find out more about the project and ongoing events on the NLHF project website ‘West Norwood Cemetery: A New Beginning’ and through social media.

Regular talks and walks are also held by the Friends of West Norwood Cemetery, including the monthly guided walk of some of the highlights.