I have a very different relationship with cemeteries than most folks. I find nothing scary or morbid about them. I think they are very reflective, peaceful and interesting places; which often have a range of architecture and wildlife – especially in the older parts of large town and city cemeteries.
They are in themselves small cities – reflections of us and the societies we live in. You walk through the main paths adorned with the most amazingly-designed tombstones from the richest families, all attempting to out-shine each other in their grave designs and desires for eternal recognition. Further afield, at the back, where very few folks venture, you’ll find the unmarked pauper graves. Wherever I go, I always endeavour to visit the local cemeteries, learning much about the culture of the land I’m visiting.
St Woolos Cemetery is one of two large cemeteries in Newport, on the west side of the city, with Christchurch Cemetery to the east of the city.
St Woolos Cemetery was first opened in 1854 after the local Cathedral Cemetery became too full to use any further. The first interment was that of a sailor named Cooper. The Cemetery used to have a lodge (now the cemetery superintendent’s office), three chapels (Roman Catholic, Anglican and non-Conformist), with the a addition of a Synagogue and mortuary Chapel – all in disrepair and no longer in use.
There is also a granite obelisk in memory of the victims of the Newport Docks disaster. On 2nd July 1909, 39 men were killed when the retaining wall in the excavation of Alexandra Dock collapsed, trapping the men in mud, water and debris.
There is a war memorial commemorating 197 local men who died in World War One, in addition to 167 First World War and 98 Second World War Commonwealth War graves, and a further 10 foreign national service graves.
All the photographs today have been taken in the old part of the cemetery.