I have been sorting out old photos, and found several I took of the Crematorium Chapel at Whitley Bay (NZ345744). You will see that the chapel is worth a blog. I don’t do many funerals over here – most of mine are in Newcastle. Whenever I do come over, the parking notice always makes me smile. At last Julie and I have equal parking priority!
The Chapel was designed by Edward Cratney of Newcastle in 1913. It was originally the cemetery chapel. The Crematorium was added in 1960. The chapel has very fine quality Arts & Crafts style plaster decoration carried out by G.P. Bankart and similar style wooden fittings carried out by J.P. Bertram & Sons. To quote the listing details “Plaster decoration includes over-doors to main entrances on either side both with flanking angels in shallow relief holding banner inscribed ‘Watch for ye know not the hour’ and ‘The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh’. Deeply moulded plaster cornice decorated with vines and grapes. Curved arched ceiling with rectangular panels divided by moulded plaster bands, the central section linking the flanking doors has pairs of angels and thicker and more elaborate bands decorated with lilies and peacocks. This more elaborate decoration continues over the ritual east end of the chapel. Dado panelling and wooden pews with rounded carved pew ends.”
George Percy Bankart was born in Leicester in 1866 and died in London in 1929. He was one of the leading plasterers of the early twentieth century. He worked in Leicester, Bromsgrove, and then in London. In 1910 he merged his firm, and this advert appeared in The Architects’ and Builders’ Journal, vol 32, no 807, 20 July 1910 “Messrs G Jackson of 49 Rathbone Place and Mr G Bankart of Baldwin’s Gardens, Gray’s Inn Road, EC. have recently arranged an amalgamation of their businesses. The respective workshops and offices will remain exactly as heretofore. Mr Bankart’s business being under his sole personal direction and control at Baldwin’s Gardens whilst his services as designer and adviser at 49 Rathbone Place are secured. In addition to modelled plasterwork, leadwork etc. they are conjointly undertaking decorative work in gesso, egg-tempera painting, and carving in wood and stone, and with the new financial arrangements, increased workshop accommodation and greater facilities, they will be able to carry out orders expeditiously, and at the same time to do the best possible work.” There is more information about him at this website.
On one occasion we came over to Whitley Bay for the Crematorium after a service at St Mary’s. We were running very early having allowed more time than we needed. It was a gorgeous day. “Let’s stop for an ice cream” said the granddaughter, “Granny wouldn’t mind.” “No,” I agreed, “Granny wouldn’t. But the ice cream parlour owner might have something to say if the cortege parked outside.”
St Mary’s lighthouse is the symbol of Whitley Bay. Here is the lighthouse website (or, at least, the website that works – several don’t). It is also an excuse for two wonderful railway posters advertising this part of the Coast.
Many years ago I was in the hearse getting a lift to Ipswich Crematorium. We got stuck in traffic on the A14. “We’re going to be late”, I said. Bernard, who was Mr Clutterham of Bury St Edmunds, replied in his wonderful undertaker voice, “They can’t start until I get you and the deceased there, can they.” He had a point. A few years later I had the privilege of taking Bernard’s funeral in the Cathedral. He had started work at the age of 14 and, if I remember right, was in his late 70s when he stopped working (only a year or so before his death). Every other undertakers in Bury closed that afternoon, and we had an honour guard up the Nave as his coffin was brought in. I have worked with some marvellous funeral directors over the years – funeral ministry is a huge privilege.