Between the glitzy tower blocks of Media City and the traffic on Eccles New Road nestles Weaste Cemetery, an oasis of calm and beauty where I always find something intriguing and new. Covering 39 acres, this is a large plot and over 332,000 Salfordians have been buried here since it opened in 1857. Weaste Cemetery was Salford’s first municipal cemetery and its Victorian design of winding paths, intersections and trees provides a space to enjoy a walk and the natural environment, as well as to respect and remember loved ones who have died.
There are a number of famous Salfordian buried here and I usually make a beeline for Mark Addy’s grave when I first arrive at the cemetery. Mark Addy lived from 1838 to 1890 and as an adult was the licencee at the Boathouse Inn by the river Irwell. During his lifetime he rescued 53 people from drowning in the Irwell, starting with his first act of life-saving at the age of 13 years when he saved a child. Mark Addy received local and national recognition for his rescues, including being given the Albert Medal by Queen Victoria. The river and his selflessness finally killed him; he became fatally ill after swallowing polluted river water during his last rescue. His memorial in Weaste Cemetery was paid for by grateful local people. On the Salford side of the Irwell the Mark Addy pub has long been a local favourite but in the floods of December 2015 the pub was severely damaged and it may be many years before it is re-opened and we are drinking there again.
After I have paid my respects to Mark Addy I might look for the memorial to the pianist and conductor Charles Hallé who founded the Halle Orchestra or seek out the grave of Eddie Colman, one of the Busby Babes at Manchester United who died tragically at the age of 21 in the 1958 Munich air disaster. Wherever I wander in the cemetery I always find something to interest me. This might be a small clump of snowdrops or bluebells, a gravestone with a particularly moving tribute, a thrush pottering along the grass or the poignant view of the tightly packed gravestones disappearing down the hillside.
When I walk here I often have the cemetery to myself but it is still used and on a sunny day there are often other walkers. Mr BOTRA and I often take a turn around the cemetery at Christmas when many people leave flowers, wreaths and grave cards on the graves of a parent or grandparent who is still loved and missed.