Major improvements to Swindon’s Kingsdown Crematorium have begun, which will see the capacity of the chapel increased, along with a larger waiting area for mourners.
The £1.5million programme, which is expected to take nine months to complete, will also see improvements to the routes currently taken by people arriving at, and leaving, the chapel. There will also be larger offices, sited away from the chapel and waiting room.
Kingsdown currently sees 2000 cremations and 400 burials each year, with up to ten cremations each day.
Local clergy and funeral directors have been consulted about the new design. The work has been planned to create the minimum amount of disruption, with working patterns arranged to avoid times when services are taking place.
Once this work is complete, a second phase will begin to replace Kingsdown’s four cremators, which are 15 years old. The new cremators will be much more energy-efficient and meet increasingly stringent emissions regulations.
Kingsdown Crematorium opened in April 1966, since when cremation has become more popular than burial across the UK, with four cremations to each burial. There are also fewer services beforehand at churches, which means that the crematorium chapel is often the only place where mourners gather. The work will increase the capacity of the chapel from 90 to 150.
Cllr Fionuala Foley, Swindon Borough Cabinet member for Leisure and Corporate Services, said: “Once these changes have been made, Kingsdown will be able to cope better with large numbers of people attending services.
“The staff there do a tremendous job looking after people at a very difficult time, but the buildings and facilities just aren’t big enough any more, and these changes will make it far better. The new design also means that mourners will not find themselves among other groups on the way in and out, which can happen at the moment on busy days.”