The Sydes Brae Crematorium

2006 Crematorium photographed by RDS

2006 Crematorium photographed by RDS

With a crematorium just 200 yards outside Blantyre Parish, the thought of a second one being built in the area was met  by the people of Blantyre with much protest. Indeed, when the site was proposed by South Lanarkshire Council at Greenhall, not only was Blantyre going to have a new crematorium, but was also going to lose a park. At the turn of the Millennium , this prompted over 17,000 complaints in the form of a petition. Indeed, much re-work was done by the excellent efforts of the protesters when it was found that the petition if submitted would only form ONE complaint. This drove the protest group to send in individual letters of complaint from ALL the gathered names. The protest was heard and the Council eventually had to accept losing a battle with many local people after a great deal of time and money was spent contesting the councils proposals. They ended up having to choose another site. A site that ended up at Sydes Brae, Blantyre.

The South Lanarkshire Sydes Brae Crematorium opened on Tuesday 5th September 2006. The single storey building is large, spacious and located just down from Park Farm, Sydes Brae, on the opposite side of the road from Newhouse. A new roundabout at Sydes Brae was constructed at the entrance.

Council leader Eddie McAvoy performed the official opening ceremony and the opening was marked with the unveiling of a plaque followed by a dedication service. Speaking at the opening, Councillor McAvoy said: “Until now, South Lanarkshire was one of the few remaining highly populated areas not to have its own crematorium. Currently, a total of 63% of all funerals from South Lanarkshire take place outside our boundary, particularly for families who choose cremation. Land use for cemeteries is at a premium and national statistics show that more and more families are choosing cremation for funeral arrangements. The council has recognised these facts and provided this modern facility to meet the needs and demands of the community. This crematorium gives another option to bereaved families when making the stressful and delicate decisions involved in funeral arrangements.”

There was no mention of the protests or grievance that the people of Blantyre had towards this building. Until then residents had to pay a surcharge of £160 for the cremation at Daldowie or Linn, which were and still are operated by Glasgow City Council. At the time of opening, the cost of a cremation at the new facility was £318.

In September 2014, some controversial discussions were leaked to the press in which it became apparent that for Health and Safety reasons only one obese deceased person could be cremated per day, restricting the number of funerals that could take place each day.

Of the building itself, the crematorium is one of the first in the UK to use new technology which cuts mercury emissions, a concern at the time of the nearby new housing estates. A total of 200 mourners can be accommodated at this site and a 140 space car park is also included, as well as a memorial garden and a book of remembrance. Having been to some very sad services in this building, I have to say the crematorium itself is a very peaceful, beautiful building and I, like many people in Blantyre have grown used to it being there, without further cause for complaint.

On social media, Lisa Kelly told me, a great place to work, getting to meet so many lovely families“.

Susan Brownlie added, My brother, Tom Callender, played the organ for a lot of funerals here, and was himself cremated here in July last year. That was the first time I had been to this crematorium, all previous family funerals were at Daldowie, and I thought it was so nice.

Marian Maguire said, Yes it in a lovely peaceful place, with lovely views although this isn’t something the deceased will be aware of, but will give comfort to families just to sit and look and reflect. My only complaint about the facility is it’s name, again Blantyre was overlooked, nearly all our crematoriums are named after the place they are in.

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