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Big clear-up planned for overgrown Sedgley war graves

By Megan Archer | Sedgley | News | Published:

A major project is set to start on clearing an overgrown, historical war graveyard in Sedgley.

Paul Rhodes, front, with local residents, from left, Reverend Guy Hewlett, Martin Jones, Liz Haldron, Lynda Jones, Lorraine Parker, and Diane Rhodes

Gospel End Street Cemetery, based just behind All Saints Church, has long been overgrown – and local residents are campaigning for it to be cleared and enjoyed by the whole community.

They want people to be able to visit their families, and for locals and school children to learn about the military war graves buried on the site.

Martin Jones, a member of All Saints Church who also runs Sedgley Archives Group, said it was "distressing" to see loved ones graves overrun by brambles and weeds.

He said: "It's been like this since about 1970. It’s quite distressing – amidst all this anarchy you’ll see a sign of someone here who has a family, and there's a fresh wreath on a grave.

"Once it has been cleared – it’s then a resource and an educational resource for local schools. It's full of graves with historical significance to Sedgley.

"It's got huge potential and is within reach of local schools. The people buried here shaped the history of Sedgley. People take it for granted – they don’t ask themselves how it got to how it is now."

Paul Rhodes next to one of the war graves

Local resident and ex-Navy seaman Paul Rhodes, who is part of the campaign, said there could be up to 2,000 graves buried on the land.

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"I came down here between Christmas and New Year and someone has had to throw a Christmas wreath in the direction of a grave," he said.

"It's sad. It's the local authority – Dudley Council's – job to clear this, but only the access. Families are responsible for individual graves but you can't expect families to try and clear this."

Among the individual graves are those of First and Second World War troops – about 19 in total – which the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is responsible for maintaining.

The overgrown graveyard, off Gospel End Street, Sedgley

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Reverend Guy Hewlett, the team rector at All Saints Church, hopes the graveyard could become like a nature reserve for locals.

"Some cemeteries have been made into safe places, nature reserves almost," he said. "The council currently has a budget for two grass cuts a year but we're trying to get four.

There have not been any new burials at the grounds since 1960, excluding family members of those already buried there.

The group is looking for funding and volunteers to assist with the project. Visit Friends of All Saints Graveyard on Facebook to join in.

Megan Archer

By Megan Archer
Chief Reporter - @MeganA_Star

Chief Reporter with the Express & Star. Give me a call on 01902 319363 or email megan.archer@expressandstar.co.uk.

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