Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: August 29, 2018
Webpage updated: June 09, 2020




Work started on laying out the ground of Efford Cemetery in 1904.  The estimated cost was 5,000.

On Wednesday May 7th 1907 the Rules and Regulations that would be applicable to Plymouth's New Cemetery were announced.  The Cemetery was divided into three sections: Church of England; Roman Catholic; and General.  Each of those sections was further divided into three, for different classes of internment.  Four coffins were permitted to be placed in one eight feet deep grave.

Calculating the cost of the burial was complicated as there were different classes, A, B or C, and exclusive rights and non-exclusive rights.  An exclusive earthen grave in Class C could cost 2 10s, rising to 3 10s in Class B and between 5 and 10 in Class A.  A burial in a walled grave, brick grave or vault cost even more.  The use of the Chapel was limited to twenty minutes and cost anything from one shilling for Class to four shillings for Class A, along with a payment of 3s 6d to the Minister.  If the internment was to be in a walled or brick grave or a vault then the cost of the Chapel was six shillings and the Minister had to be given a further 6d.

And then there were the extras.  The use of a bier cost 6d, the use of a pall cost 2s 6d and the use of the bell on the Chapel was 2s 6d.  If the funeral had the misfortune to arrive late then there was an extra charge of five shillings.  And if you were a non resident of the Town of Plymouth the  there was a surcharge of a quarter of the fee already calculated.  If you were accompanied to your grave by a band or a firing party, then you had to be buried on a weekday and in the morning because they were not normally permitted after Midday.  Furthermore if the deceased died of an infectious disease or emitted an offensive odour then he was not allowed in the Chapel.  Thankfully, 'No servant of the Corporation employed in the cemetery may receive any gratuity.'

The gates of the 37-acre site at Efford Cemetery were unlocked on the gloriously fine afternoon of Thursday July 11th 1907 by the Mayor of Plymouth, Mr J F Winnicott.   Alderman Cumming declared open the Chapel, where the chief speeches were made.   It was announced that the Cemetery had cost 18,710 and that although thirty acres of ground had been acquired, only 7 acres had so far been enclosed and formally laid out.  Space had been provided for 5,175 plots. 

Doctor Trefusis, the Bishop of Crediton, consecrated the Church of England portion of the Cemetery on Wednesday August 19th 1907, in the presence of the Mayor of Plymouth, Mr J F Winnicott, and a large gathering of clergy, lay readers, Corporation officers and the general public. 

Efford Crematorium was officially opened by the City's Mayor, Mr E Stanley Leatherby, on Friday October 19th 1934.  At the time it was the only one west of Bristol and Southampton.  The contractors were Messrs A N Coles (Contractors) Limited.  On their behalf Mr J Widger presented the Mayor with a golden key to un lock the door. The Crematorium itself cost 2,756.  It had two gas ovens and a large columbarium to contain the urns.  There was a large ante-room between the chapel and the the furnace.  The entire complex cost almost 4,000.  Messrs R B Wigfull and Son, goldsmiths, of Windsor Lane, Princess Square, Plymouth, supplied the golden key. 

In March 1941 and again in April 1941 mass burials of those killed in the two Blitzes took place.  At the service on the afternoon of Monday April 28th 1941, the graves were draped with Union Jacks and floral tributes ranging from humble posies of primroses to official wreaths and crosses.  Those taking part included the Bishop of Exeter, the Bishop of Plymouth, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Plymouth and the Reverend W D Campbell representing the Nonconformist congregations.  A representative from the Salvation Army was also present, as were Officers from the three Services.  The Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Lord Astor, was prevented from attending by illness.

Those killed in the Portland Square bomb shelter disaster are buried at Efford Cemetery.  In addition, many of those remains removed from earlier burial grounds at Westwell Gardens (Saint Andrew's Church), Charles' Church, Milehouse (Stoke Damerel Parish Church) and the Quaker burial ground in Charles Street have been re-interred here.

Efford Cemetery is still in operation and a fee will be charged for making a search of their burial registers.