Work to start within days to expand and upgrade South Shields Crematorium - this is what you need to know if you're attending a service
Work to expand and upgrade South Shields Crematorium is set to start within days.
South Tyneside Council, which operates the crematorium, is extending the chapel area into the existing internal courtyard, with work now confirmed to start on Monday, January 10.
Work will see some temporary changes, as well as closures on certain days – and a potential full closure for a 12-week period in the summer.
Council chiefs say the enlarged chapel will help provide for larger funerals by increasing capacity by a total of 126 – providing seating for more than 200 visitors as well as additional standing space.
The development of the 1960s building in John Reid Road also involves repositioning the pulpit and rearranging some of the seating, which bosses say will provide better sight lines for those paying their respects to family and friends.
A partition between the existing chapel and extension can be used when required for smaller funerals.
Work will also be carried out to modernise the building with new furniture and a full redecoration of the existing chapel, entrance and exit lobby and waiting area.
Councillor Ernest Gibson, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety at South Tyneside Council, said: “It’s great to see work starting on site marking a major milestone in this project.
“South Shields Crematorium plays a key role in the community, supporting our residents at what can be an extremely distressing and difficult time in their lives.
"The existing chapel is quite small, which limits the number of people who can be accommodated within the building. As the only crematorium to serve the entire borough, it is important the building is fit for purpose.”
He added: “Once complete, we will be able to offer a modern facility that is able to accommodate larger funerals for the residents of South Tyneside.
"This project will help us to deliver on our commitment to improve the crematorium so we can provide the very best services possible to our residents in their time of need.”
The construction work, being delivered by Surgo Construction, is expected to take up to 38 weeks to complete.
Work will take place on weekends, Mondays and Tuesdays, meaning funeral services can continue at the crematorium three days a week, with more services being offered on those days.
The chapel at Harton Cemetery, usually only reserved for services where burials take place, is also being made available for cremation services.
Cllr Gibson said while works are ongoing at the crematorium, the chapel layout will be altered with decorative hoarding screening off the main construction area.
Existing pews will be re-arranged, with some moved into the internal foyer where services can be viewed on the live TV monitor, with standing room at the rear of the chapel and in the lobby will be temporarily reduced.
Council chiefs also anticipate the crematorium may need to close for up to 12 weeks in the final stages of the work programme this summer.
Cremations will still take place, but it will not be possible to hold services or memorials in the chapel during this period.
Cllr Gibson said the council’s Bereavement Team will support families in making alternative arrangements for services and memorials to take place at chapels in other parts of South Tyneside.
The crematorium grounds and memorial gardens will remain open on weekdays and weekends during works.
For further information about South Shields Crematorium, opening hours and the facilities available, contact the council’s Bereavement Services on (0191) 427 3190.