Carleton Cemetery and Crematorium

Carleton Cemetery and Crematorium

Carleton Cemetery and Crematorium was opened on 18 July 1935.

The main building was designed by legendary Borough Architect J.C. Robinson who was also responsible for designing the Derby Baths, Bus Station, Stanley Park Cafe, the Technical College, and Collegiate School.

Carleton Crematorium and pond, photo Denys Barber
Carleton Crematorium and pond, photo Denys Barber

Robinson based it on his own interpretation of the Mausoleum of Mausolus, and there’s a chapel at the north door which displays books of remembrance of those buried or cremated there.

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Considering only 5% of funerals in the 1930s involved cremation, the building is way ahead of its time in terms of size, design, and setting.

It was only when the Royal Family and famous personalities showed an interest in cremation that the practice became less stigmatised.

Famous Cremations

Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter was one of the first famous people to be cremated at Carleton.

Beatrix Potter died on 22 December 1943 from pneumonia at her home in Near Sawrey in the Lake District. Unusually for the time, she’d decided her mortal remains were to be cremated following her death.

Beatrix Potter was born in London in 1866. Her family took their holidays in Scotland and the English Lake District – which stimulated an interest in natural science, countryside life and conservation. Combining with this her abilities as a writer and illustrator, she began to write books with beautiful paintings and sketches of the flora and fauna which she observed.

Turning her interest to children’s books, Beatrix Potter published her famous “Tale of Peter Rabbit” which appeared in 1902. It was an immediate success and followed by 30 more books, making her a household name.

Always at the forefront of modernity and conservation, Beatrix Potter saw the countryside as something worth preserving for future generations and she can be considered one of the pioneers of today’s Lake District National Park.

Other Famous Cremations

Charlie Cairoli, Jimmy Clitheroe, Violet Carson, Bernie Nolan, Lennie Bennett, Stanley Mortensen Reginald Dixon, Tony Melody and John Comer are some of the other famous people who have been cremated at Carleton.

Today, cremation accounts for more than 70% of funerals in this country.

Rose garden at Carleton Crematorium, photo Denys Barber
Rose garden at Carleton Crematorium, photo Denys Barber

With many thanks to Denys Barber for the information and photos in this article. 

Carleton Crematorium is managed by Blackpool Council although the main gates are in Poulton-le-Fylde.

If you are interested in local history, take a look at the Facebook group ‘Blackpool’s Past – the original’ where you’ll find lots of interesting information like this.

Carleton Crematorium, photo Denys Barber

Carleton Crematorium, photo Denys Barber

  1. I attended a funeral at Carleton Crematorium today and was absolutely appalled.J C Robinson (the original designer) would be turning in his grave. At the entrance to the Crematorium there is now an “in your face” cremator which looks like Stephenson’s Rocket or something off an industrial estate. This is not something people who are saying farewell to a loved one want to see. It is totally out of character and looks like Battersea Power Station.Who is responsible for this blatant monstrosity? They have a great deal to answer for.They should be formally castigated.

    1. The current temporary cremators, external to the main building, are an unfortunate consequence of the Council making a poor choice when replacing the crematorium plant 5 years ago. The 1930s Robinson-designed building is relatively tight on space behind the scenes, especially with tightening environmental regulations that require more treatment of cremator flue gases before discharge to atmosphere. The Council chose a company who said their cremators and treatment plant could fit in without significant modification to the building, however that company was relatively new to the UK market, and they went bankrupt part way through the installation.

      The Council found an alternative company to finish the work and install the equipment that they had purchased, however those cremators have been dogged by unreliability and technical problems during the last 5 years service, increasing the workload on the technicians who carry out the cremations. Other local authorities who chose the same supplier as Blackpool have been similarly troubled. Two crematoria using the same equipment had suffered serious fires, many have had this sub-standard gear totally replaced. Others (e.g. Cheltenham) are building totally new crematoria.

      The Robinson building is going to be extended (sympathetically, I’m told) to accommodate new plant from a leading and reputable supplier. In the meantime, the temporary “containerised crematory” is needed while the unreliable gear is dismantled, the building extended, and the new gear installed. Otherwise we would be looking at a lengthy 6 month closure. I don’t think Fylde, Preston and Lancaster combined can absorb Carleton’s service load for such an extended period without working significant overtime. I’m slightly surprised that the Council didn’t explore options for establishing the temporary crematory elsewhere to avoid causing distress or loss of dignity, and transfer the deceased in a mortuary ambulance following committal but logistically that may have proved very challenging.

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