London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

View report page

London County Council 1900

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London County Council]

This page requires JavaScript

(135.) Streatham cemetery—Opened about four years ago.
The cemetery is situated at the western limit of the parish, near Garratt-lane. At present
there is open land around it.
The surface of the ground has a slight fall towards the west in the direction of the river
Wandle. The soil consists of a fine white and dry river sand down to a depth of 10 to 12 feet
where clay is reached.
The ground is drained at a depth of 25 feet, the drainage being lifted by pumping into the
neighbouring sewers. Earthen graves are connected with the drains.
The total area of the cemetery is 23 acres in use, and 3 acres in reserve. Of this about
25 acres have not yet been buried in. There are only 3 rows of graves which have been used for
common interments, and which therefore cannot be again disturbed. The remainder of the
graves are private, and available for reopening.
The area of grave spaces is, private and common, 9 feet by 4 feet 6 inches.
The depth of graves is as follows—In the case of private graves a greater depth than 9 to
10 feet is seldom required. This is sufficient for three interments. A greater depth than 12 feet
is never dug. In the case of common graves 20 feet is the depth. The number buried in each
common grave is 7 to 8 adults, and children in the upper part of each adult grave. This allows
the grave to be filled within 3 feet of the surface.
Common graves are sometimes not filled for three weeks. In such case the grave is
temporarily filled in with loose earth over a plank bottom. An interval of 9 inches to a foot of
soil is left between each coffin.
Brick graves or vaults are seldom required.

Number of interments in 1897 —


(137.) South Metropolitan or Norwood cemetery—Opened 1838.
Situated at Lower Norwood, the cemetery is surrounded on all sides by houses.
The surface of the ground is hilly, and has a good fall in a northerly direction. The soil
consists of London clay.
The cemetery is not deep drained, but there are superficial drains for carrying off the
surface water.
The total area is 40 acres 28 perches, of which it is stated that some 20 acres are still unburied
in. This area of 20 acres will, it is estimated, provide for 150,000 interments. The
ground already used is mostly filled with private graves, the proportion of common interments
being small. Probably 12 acres of the occupied ground is still available for further interments,
and will provide, it is estimated, for about 70,000 bodies if all graves are used.
The area of private graves is 6 feet 6 inches by 2 feet 6 inches, or as much more as may be
purchased. For common graves an area of 7 feet 6 inches by 3 feet 6 inches is allowed.
The usual depth required in the case of private graves is 10 feet; the minimum depth of
any grave is 7 feet. Common graves are 18 feet deep, and provide for 8 to 10 coffins, an interval
of one foot of earth between each being left as near as possible. In the case of private graves, the
desire on the part of relatives to see the last interred coffin does not always permit an interval to
be left between coffins, and it is stated that in practice a private grave 15 feet deep is found to
provide for as many interments as a common grave of 18 feet.
There are at this cemetery—
(1) Catacombs, under the Episcopal chapel.
(2) Mausoleums.
(3) Vaults and brick graves.
(4) Earth graves.
Catacombs are seldom used now. The mausoleums are chiefly erected by members of the
Greek community in London, who use this cemetery. There are many of these buildings here.
Vaults and brick graves, it is stated, are much less frequently wanted than formerly, probably
one to forty or fifty earth graves, but there are a considerable number in the cemetery which were
constructed in former vears.

The number of interments in 1897 (including still-born children) was—


(136.) Tooting Churchyard.
This is the burial ground for those dying in the parish of Tooting, except those persons
in public institutions which exist in the parish—e.g., Chelsea Union and a fever hospital.
It is situated at St. Nicholas Church, in Lower Tooting, and has open land to the south
and east.
The soil consists for the most part of gravel, with bands of clay here and there.
Common interments, or interments of paupers, do not take place here. In the case of all
graves the right of burial is purchased, except in the case of children, and most are family
graves. The usual depth of graves is 9 feet.