Shrewsbury Cemetery

 In Environment

Help, somebody is walking all over my grave! If that sounds odd, read on. I write articles for Journals, one online, related to the cemetery world. A recent one that was published was followed by a article about Longden Road Cemetery in Shrewsbury, which I know as Shrewsbury Cemetery. The person writing it was unaware that I was an horticultural trainee at that cemetery in 1961. Their article was about the cemetery blooming with wildflowers as a result of a volunteer group. There were pictures of the wildflowers and they took me right back to being a 15 year old garden rookie. Worse, that was how the cemetery looked when I started work. Sadly, over the next two years, I had to join the chemical spraying team and we reduced it to a wilderness!


If those who managed me were ignorant, I was only fractionally better. However, I did do a lot of conservation over my career and introduced natural burial. Working at the cemetery was interesting. I had come from a poor background, with abuse, so the bullying did not trouble me. Whatever, I disliked the way some staff abused the conchie, the conscientous objecter, and Quaker, who was on the staff. Young men often cannot help themselves. Bullying, betting, heavy drinking, were all norms. Some staff would have bullied me but others protected me. They were hard workers though, and a team atmosphere pervaded. In part that was because a number of them had done national service.

Shrewsbury Cemetery

Our boss at Shrewsbury was caring. He employed the Quaker and another man who had a cleft palate and could speak only with difficulty. These people needed protection against bullying and, fortunately, there were only a few lapses. The horticulturalists, scythers and gravediggers were skilled and interesting people. It made me, a mere kid, respect people who carried social burdens. I also discovered that work was good for the soul as well as the pocket. Doing a job well and taking a pride in it was my experience of Shrewsbury Cemetery. No work is menial and that foul word is misleading. Shakespeare valued skilled manual workers as ‘rude mechanicals’ in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We need to value all workers, even the rude ones!

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