Wandering through the residential streets of Swinton in Salford on a sunny afternoon recently I stumbled across Swinton Cemetery. The cemetery creates a beautiful square that is surrounded by housing. The rows of graves are neatly arranged and the trees provide colour and shade. There is a small red brick mortuary chapel within the cemetery. This beautiful, peaceful and neat cemetery has been used for burials since 1886 and is still in use today.
Today the cemetery includes the re-interred remains of over 300 burials from the previous Unitarian Church in Swinton that was closed and demolished in 1985. The burial ground land was undisturbed until 2013 when the land became part of a development for a new supermarket. The development caused considerable concern locally. The Unitarian burial ground included a war grave and the graves of three men who lost their lives in the Clifton Hall Colliery Disaster in 1885.
In his book From Salford to Tucson and Back Again, Robert Carter describes his childhood in Swinton in the 1960s and a character on his street who was the gravedigger at Swinton Cemetery. This man always wore clogs that ‘clanked as he walked’ and owned a scary black dog that would walk a few yards behind the gravedigger often with a piece of meat in its jaws, apparently to tenderise the meat.