Dec 6 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
A GREAT-GRANDDAUGHTER was devastated to find her one of her relative’s graves had been damaged by council workers who moved it to make room for a burial.
Shirley Basford, 67, visits her family’s graves in Alperton Cemetery regularly, but was shocked to find that one from the 1930s had been removed and damaged by the council as staff dug a new grave in the neighbouring plot.
William Brunswick, Miss Basford’s great-grandfather, died in 1933 and is buried in the cemetery with his wife Hepzibah, who died two years earlier.
Miss Basford said: “The pillars have been broken and the headstone has been laid down on top of the grave. You can see clearly that the bolts have been broken off and there are caterpillar tracks where they brought in the machine to dig another grave.
“It upsets me as the grave is not treated with respect.”
Brent Council said it regularly moves memorials while carrying out burials and grave owners are given notice. However, in this case the registered owner of the grave and headstone was the late William Brunswick and his ownership had expired.
In a letter to Miss Basford, the memorial officer for Brent Council, Kevin Cooney, said: “It is extremely regretful that the stone fell apart when it was moved in the normal course of carrying out a burial.
“The rights of ownership have now expired and this permits the council to remove the memorial from the site in the course of normal procedure.”
The family lived in Waverly Avenue for many years and Miss Basford, who has one son and two grandchildren, has done extensive research into her family history.
She said she enjoys going to the cemetery to pay her respects to her ancestors.
“It is wrong that this should happen to anyone,” she said.
“I want to point this out because I don’t want it to happen to anyone, not my son or my grandchildren. I don’t want anyone to have to deal with this.
“I would like to think the people whose graves they are need to be given some respect.”
A Brent Council spokesman said: “Brent Council is the legal owner of the grave and headstone and although we recognise it is a very sensitive issue for relatives, it does mean that we have to manage a grave to ensure that it is in a safe condition for other cemetery visitors.
“Moving memorials is an accepted and necessary practice. Memorials are regularly moved while carrying out burials in all our cemeteries. All grave owners are given notice that their memorial may be moved.
“There is always a risk that memorials of a great age or not fixed to a recognised standard will become loose and will need to be laid down in a similar way.
“If this happens we contact the owner or their family and offer to work with them to refix the stone.
“On this occasion we contacted Ms Basford in the normal fashion and offered to work with her to refix the stone.”