Working closely with the landscape architects, Lawray was selected by Wrexham County Borough Council to bring the transformation of Wrexham Cemetery to reality. The project was enabled by ‘Parks for People’ Heritage Lottery Funding.
Wrexham Cemetery is one of only a small number of intact Victorian garden cemeteries and is of national significance as well as an integral part of the historic development and layout of the town. The project involved the re-imagining of the site to deliver a community facility valued by local people whilst safeguarding the cultural and historical significance of the site and its buildings.
Along with restoration and repair of the cemetery’s lodge and chapels, including works to bring the buildings into new uses, the brief called for conservation of their historic landscape setting, its memorials and `gardenesque’ planting.
The team took a hands-on approach to the heritage works required, drawing on a wealth of experience and local knowledge.
Grade II Listed structures that dominate the entrance to the cemetery were restored ensuring sustainable use. The network of paths dividing the cemetery were improved through superior surfacing and access control, with restoration of the East Chapel providing office space and a public area to accommodate accessible historic records. The West Chapel was retained as an adaptable multi-use space appropriate for funeral services but also adaptable for a wider community use. The adjacent Lodge was fully restored to provide Wrexham County Borough Council with an income from a privately rented property.
Wats Dyke Way crosses the site following the line of one of the internal paths, forming part of the green infrastructure of the area and taking in the grave of Elihu Yale, a notable local figure. Prior to the works, Wats Dyke was not actively managed or interpreted in the cemetery – visitors can now actively engage with an important part of Wales’ heritage.
Interpretation material raises awareness of the cemetery’s rich social history and together with the involvement of the local community it ensured that the project was a major success, recognised by being conferred with a Civic Society Outstanding Achievement Award.