Southern Cemetery, Manchester

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Gravestones and memorials in Southern Cemetery

Southern Cemetery is a large municipal cemetery in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, England, 3 miles (4.8 km) south of the city centre. It opened in 1879 and is owned and administered by Manchester City Council. It is the largest municipal cemetery in the United Kingdom and the second largest in Europe.[1]


Manchester Southern Cemetery originally occupied a 100-acre (40 ha) plot of land,[2] that cost Manchester Corporation £38,340 in 1872. Its cemetery buildings were designed by architect H. J. Paull and its layout attributed to the city surveyor, James Gascoigne Lynde. The cemetery opened on 9 October 1879 and had mortuary chapels for Anglicans, Nonconformists, and Roman Catholics linked by an elliptical drive and a Jewish chapel at the west corner of the site. The original cemetery is registered by English Heritage in the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens for its historic interest and the mortuary chapels and other structures are listed buildings. The site was expanded by the purchase of 90 acres (36 ha) on the opposite side of Nell Lane in 1926, the first section of which opened in 1943. Some of the 1926 purchase has been developed for housing and some is occupied by allotments.[3]

North Chapel Interior

The main area of the cemetery is located to the north of Barlow Moor Road and to the west of the A5103 Princess Road; its northwards extension is on Nell Lane bought by the council in 1926. Its layout complements the original cemetery.[3] A war memorial commemorates Allied servicemen who died in the two world wars.[4]

In 2009, in what was described as a racially motivated attack, up to 20 Muslim graves were vandalised.[5]


North Chapel

The grade II listed registrar's office near the entrance gateway was built in 1879 in the neo-Gothic style in sandstone with slate roofs.[6] Three service chapels are located in Southern Cemetery, only one of which is currently used for funeral services. The remaining two chapels are semi-derelict.

Mature Trees – Southern Cemetery Manchester

A remembrance lodge was created in the cemetery, opened on 1 October 2008. It is situated at the main entrance on Barlow Moor Road and is for the use of families and friends wishing to pay their respects and remember loved ones.[7]

Immediately adjacent to the northwest corner of the cemetery on Barlow Moor Road is Manchester Crematorium which opened in 1892, the second in the United Kingdom.[8]

Notable burials and monuments[edit]

Tomb of John Rylands

Manchester's first multi-millionaire, industrialist and philanthropist John Rylands, is buried in the cemetery.[3][9][10] The Rylands memorial is the grandest in the cemetery, although part of the original structure was removed circa 1927 and the bronze railings were stolen circa 1967: his widow Enriqueta's ashes lie in the vault below. The graves of some of those associated with the firm of Rylands are nearby, including those of Reuben Spencer and William Carnelley.

Manchester's "Sherlock Holmes" Jerome Caminada (1844–1914) is buried there.

A Grade II listed monument in the form of a white marble Celtic cross commemorates Sir John Alcock who piloted the first non-stop trans-Atlantic aircraft flight[11] from Newfoundland to Clifden Ireland in June 1919.[12]

North Chapel Flower Beds

Sir Matt Busby, manager of Manchester United F.C. is buried in the cemetery, alongside his wife Lady Jean Busby who died in December 1988.[3] Billy Meredith (1874–1958), who played for Manchester City F.C. and Manchester United, is buried here, as is Willie Satinoff, a racecourse owner who died in the Munich air disaster.

Ernest Marples, credited with overseeing the introduction of automatic dialling and motorways, is buried under a modest memorial.[13]

Stretford-born artist L. S. Lowry was buried next to his parents in 1976.[3] Also from the arts world are the graves of John Cassidy, the Irish sculptor and Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska, the Polish poet. Wilfred Pickles, the Yorkshire-born radio presenter, and his wife Mabel are buried together. Also buried here is the singer and actress Maud Boyd.

Factory Records founder Tony Wilson is buried in the cemetery, a headstone designed by Peter Saville and Ben Kelly was installed in October 2010.[14] Rob Gretton (manager of Joy Division and New Order) and record producer Martin Hannett are also buried here.

A memorial commemorating the 1980 Tenerife Air Disaster, when Dan-Air charter flight 1008 flew into a hillside in Tenerife, killing all 146 on board, contains the names of the victims inscribed on slate tablets within a small grassed enclosure.

A memorial to the victims of the Katyn massacre (the killing of 22,000 Polish nationals by the Soviet NKVD in 1940) is located next to Princess Parkway, in an area in which there are many Polish graves. It was unveiled in 1990.[15]

Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans, two victims of the Moors murderers were buried here in the 1960s but Downey's grave was moved after vandals daubed its headstone with graffiti.[16]

War graves[edit]

Grave of Henry Kelly, VC

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) register and maintain the war graves of 775 Commonwealth service personnel (including one unidentified) of the First World War and 475 (including 3 unidentified) of the Second. Many graves are scattered around the cemetery but there are two separate war grave plots, one for each war, whose graves are not headstoned but have screen wall memorials on which those buried are listed. Near the entrance to its grounds the CWGC erected a memorial to 14 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War who were cremated here. The Second World War graves plot holds the graves of 17 Polish service personnel, besides memorials of British service personnel of both world wars who were buried in other cemeteries and churchyards in Manchester where their graves could no longer be maintained.[17] The 177 servicemen and women who were cremated during the Second World War are listed on the screen wall at the cemetery's Second World War graves plot.[18] Two holders of the Victoria Cross – Major Henry Kelly (VC) (First World War award, died 1960) and Colour Sergeant John Prettyjohns (Crimean War award and the first to a Royal Marine, died 1887) – are buried in the cemetery.[3][19]

Manchester-born Philip Baybutt, who received the Medal of Honor during the American Civil War, is buried there.

In Music[edit]

The Smiths song Cemetry Gates from their 1986 The Queen Is Dead album was loosely written about Southern Cemetery. The band’s lead singer Morrissey, would often walk through the Cemetery in his youth. [20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Can city cemeteries be nature reserves?". BBC. 24 August 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-18. But Manchester City Council plans to give Southern Cemetery in south Manchester, which is the largest cemetery in the UK, that official title.
  2. ^ 1845 Tithe Map of Chorlton Parish
  3. ^ a b c d e f Historic England. "Manchester Southern Cemetery (1001656)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
  4. ^ "Manchester Southern Cemetery, Manchester, England". British Cemeteries Memorials. Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  5. ^ "Muslim graves targeted in hate attack". Manchester Evening News. October 2, 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  6. ^ Historic England. "Registrar's Office at Manchester Southern Cemetery (1197803)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
  7. ^ "Remembrance Lodge". Manchester City Council. Retrieved 19 November 2009.
  8. ^ Davies, Douglas J. (ed.) (2005), "Encyclopedia of cremation (extract)", Encyclopedia of cremation, p. 18, ISBN 978-0-7546-3773-8, retrieved 2009-06-06CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Farnie, D. A. (2004), "Rylands, John (1801–1888)", Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, retrieved 10 November 2008
  10. ^ Farnie, D. A. (1993) John Rylands of Manchester. Manchester: John Rylands University Library; sect. 9-14
  11. ^ Scholefield 2004, p. 217
  12. ^ Historic England. "Alcock monument in centre of Manchester Southern Cemetery (1197802)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
  13. ^ "Sir Alfred Marples: MP and government minister". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  14. ^ Dorian Lynskey (2010-10-26). "A fitting headstone for Tony Wilson's grave". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-10-27.
  15. ^ "Tadeusz Lesisz: Pole who sailed with the Royal Navy and saw action on". 12 October 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ [2] CWGC Cemetery Details Manchester Southern Cemetery.
  18. ^ "Cemetery Details Manchester Crematorium".
  19. ^ [3] Burial locations of VC holders, City of Manchester.
  20. ^
  • Scholefield, R. A. (2004), "Manchester's Early Airfields", Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society, Lancashire & Cheshire Antiquarian Society 'Moving Manchester', ISSN 0950-4699

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°25′43″N 2°15′30″W / 53.4286°N 2.2582°W / 53.4286; -2.2582