Monday, 1 May 2017

107 Oystermouth Cemetery

107 Oystermouth Cemetery
The mortal remains of a philanthropist, a gifted musician, members of the crews of three lifeboat tragedies, and Wales’s first VC of the 1914-18 War, are among those buried in Oystermouth cemetery, which covers an area of 28 acres with 14,000 grave spaces.
When the large cemetery opened in 1883 near Callencroft quarry in Mumbles, the cemeteries of All Saints Church in Mumbles, Paraclete Chapel in Newton, and Bethany Chapel in West Cross were closed.  Oystermouth Burial Board had been set up after the 1875 Public Health Act empowered local areas to take charge of burials, along with other responsibilities.  When Oystermouth Urban District Council was disbanded in 1918, the cemetery became the responsibility of Swansea Corporation, with Mumbles becoming a ward of Swansea.
Along the avenue of yew trees is the grave of 55-year-old William Rogers, from the 1883 “Wolverhampton” lifeboat tragedy – the gravestones of the other three crew members who perished are outside All Saints Church.  The next grave is that of James Gammon, aged 51, from the 1903 “James Stevens” lifeboat tragedy; a little further away is the grave of Daniel Roger Claypitt aged 42, also from that disaster.  In the higher part of the cemetery all the crew of “Edward, Prince of Wales”, which sought to help the “Samtampa” at Porthcawl, are buried following the 1947 disaster, whose 70th anniversary was commemorated last 23rd April.
From the end of the yew avenue at the north-west corner is the grave of Welsh mezzo-soprano, musician and composer Morfydd Llwyn Owen, first wife of psychoanalyst Dr Ernest Jones of Gowerton.  She died in Thistleboon in 1918 aged 26, through chloroform poisoning after an appendix operation.  The dates on her gravestone are of her birth (incorrect by two years), marriage and death. 
Opposite the end of the yew avenue is the large chest grave of William Walters of Ffynone, after whom Walters Road is named.  The gravestone states that he was ‘taken from us suddenly’ - he died in 1911 aged 71.  His much-enlarged home is now Oakleigh House School.
Several sections are for the ashes of those who have been cremated, and there is a woodland burial ground. 
The Hebrew cemetery is reached through the Plosker Memorial Gates, erected in memory of the six million Jews who perished during the Holocaust 1939-1945.  A Memorial Wall just inside displays plaques from various Jewish historic sites – one being the Ffynone Synagogue, which replaced the Goat Street Synagogue destroyed during the 1941 Three Nights’ Blitz.  A tablet commemorates the consecration of the new cemetery in 1975.  The years given on the uniform gravestones follow the Hebrew not the Gregorian calendar.
Near the entrance from Slade Road is the grave of 27-year-old Private JP Patterson of the Machine Gun Corps, who died on 23 November 1918.  One wonders if his death was from wounds received during the conflict, since he died twelve days after the Armistice which concluded the First World War.
The first person to be buried in Oystermouth cemetery was Alfred Gelderd of Waterloo House in March 1883.  The first cemetery keeper was Henry Harris, a member of Castleton Chapel, who had been farm bailiff for Henry Crawshay’s Langland residence (later part of the Miners’ Convalescent Home).  His weekly salary began at one guinea, less two shillings for accommodation.  After 29 years in charge, he died aged 85 in 1911.  His successor, also named Harris, started at 25 shillings weekly, including accommodation.
On the north side of the higher part of the cemetery, by the gate, is the grave of Wales’s first VC of World War One, Sergeant William Charles Fuller, of the 2nd Battalion the Welsh Regiment.  He died in 1974 aged 90 in Westbury Street. 
The philanthropist Roger Beck, who lived at Rhyddings in Southward Lane, is buried with a typically unostentatious gravestone, on the right of the steep path to the newer part of the upper cemetery.        

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