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Chance to look behind the scenes at city’s crematorium

Published on Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Gilroes crematorium

THERE’S a rare chance to look behind the scenes at one of the country’s oldest working crematoriums this weekend as Leicester’s Gilroes crematorium opens its doors to the public.

Staff from the city council’s bereavement services team will be on hand at the open day to talk about the crematorium’s 117-year history, explain what happens during a cremation, and answer any questions about the cremation process.

Visitors will learn that cremation was outlawed in the UK until the mid-1880s, with the UK’s first crematorium opening in Woking in 1885.

They will also be able to see a memorial plaque at Gilroes that commemorates Mary Ann Hewitt – the first person to be cremated in Leicester when Gilroes opened in 1902.

Fewer than 400 cremations took place in Gilroes’ first 20 years, but by 2018 more than 200,000 had been carried out. Today, more than 77% of all funerals involve a cremation.

But for many people, what goes on behind the scenes at the crematorium remains a mystery, so bereavement services manager Alan Brown is hoping that the open day will provide an opportunity for people to ask the questions they’ve always wanted to ask.

“We’re not always very good at talking about death and dying with our friends and families, which means people often have lots of questions when they have the chance to talk about these things,” he said.

“We hope that our behind-the-scenes tour will give people the chance to ask all those questions, understand what goes on, and find out how the bereavement services team can help you, when you most need their help.

“It’s also a chance to visit a well-known city building that isn’t normally open to the public, except for funerals, so anyone with an interest in Leicester’s history and heritage is very welcome to attend too.”

The Gilroes crematorium open day takes place from 10am until 1pm on Saturday 28 September, when no funerals will be taking place.

For more information about the open day, please contact the crematorium manager on 0116 299 5522 or email