Cremations are set to resume in South Tyneside now that major remodelling works have been completed at the Borough’s only crematorium.
The eight-month project at South Shields Crematorium has involved extending the chapel area into the former internal courtyard. The enlarged chapel now enables the Council to cater for larger funerals, with capacity increased by around 126, providing seating for more than 200 visitors as well as extra standing space.
Improvements to the 1960s building has also involved repositioning the pulpit and seating to provide better sight lines for those paying respects to family and friends. A new partition wall can also be used when required for smaller, more intimate funerals. The entrance, waiting and exit areas have also been redecorated to a modern respectful standard.
Cremations and services are set to resume from Tuesday (30 August).
Cllr Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council said: “The Crematorium plays a key role in the community, supporting local people at what can be an extremely distressing and difficult time in their lives.
“As the only crematorium to serve South Tyneside, investment has been important to ensure the building is up-to-date so that we can continue to provide a respectful service for families paying tribute to their loved ones. It is also important that it is fit for purpose and able to cater for larger funerals for the residents of South Tyneside.
“Having seen the improvements first hand I am delighted with the results and although losing a loved one is never easy, I feel assured that the new facilities together with the impeccable service our Bereavement Team and funeral directors provide grieving families can feel fully supported during their most difficult time.”
The £800,000 project, which began in January, included a scheduled three-month closure over the summer months.
The Council took advantage of this period to upgrade its cremators which were almost 25 years old and in need of replacement. The new wider cremators not only accommodate larger coffins but are more energy efficient and will help to reduce the building’s carbon emissions by around 240 tonnes per year.
Councillor Ernest Gibson, Lead Member for Transport and Neighbourhoods at South Tyneside Council, said: “It’s great to see the works complete and on schedule so that we can get back to supporting our residents.
“Now that the works are complete, this improved modern facility helps us to deliver on our commitment to provide our residents with the best possible service during their time of need while giving people a fitting end to their lives.
“By increasing capacity and future-proofing the building, we can ensure we have a crematorium that continues to serve local people. We would like to thank families and visitors for their patience and understanding while the improvements have been made.”
The chapel extension was designed by Newcastle-based architectural practice GSSArchitecture with the work delivered by Surgo Construction and project managed by Helm.
Lucy Gallagher at GSS, Lead Architect on the project, said: “Working alongside South Tyneside Council, Surgo Construction, and the rest of the project team on the Crematorium project has been a great experience.
“Together we have been able to deliver a scheme that brings a new lease of life to the chapel, whilst increasing seating capacity to over 200 people. The Crematorium staff have been a pleasure to work with and we are pleased to support a project that provides a more welcoming and coherent environment for all.”
Surgo Construction’s managing director, James Walker, said: “We were delighted to have this further opportunity to work on behalf of South Tyneside Council to deliver such an important project for the Borough.
“I believe the success of the scheme is down to the great team effort of all the project partners including GSS Architecture and project managers, Helm, coupled with the adoption of a flexible approach to programme planning and out of hours working by the site team. “
Projects Director, Paul Bevan, at Newcastle-based Helm, said: “It has been a delight to steer the team on this refurbishment which has been a fantastic collaborative project between the Council and partners. Completing the works on programme whilst maintaining quality was critical to the Council. The efforts made by the Council and construction team were rewarded with a light and modern space that really brightens a key South Tyneside facility.”
The improvements to South Shields Crematorium support the Council’s key priority of investing in the natural and built environment.
Surgo Construction was awarded this contract via the NEPO framework.