Restoration works to take place at London Road Cemetery

The project involves the reinstatement of the original landscape design and the repair of major features, including the promenade and Anglican Chapel.

Coventry’s London Road Cemetery has been awarded a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant to restore some of its original features and ensure it is well looked after for future generations to enjoy.

The London Road Cemetery in Coventry is a Grade I Listed Arboretum Cemetery, designed by Joseph Paxton at the height of his career.

It is Paxton’s only cemetery and is recognised by Historic England as one of the top five historic cemeteries in the country. It is also known to be one of the best-preserved Victorian Cemeteries in the UK.

A grant of £1.76m made possible through money raised by National Lottery players, will now allow major restorative work to take place that will showcase the site’s fascinating heritage.

The project involves the reinstatement of the original landscape design and the repair of major features, including the promenade and Listed Anglican Chapel, along with multiple monuments and graves.

Coventry City Council are in the process of formally appointing a main contractor to carry out the proposed works. The chosen contractor is anticipated to be on site by early March 2020, with a project completion date anticipated for October 2020.

Councillor Patricia Hetherton, cabinet member for city services, said: “It’s wonderful that this lottery grant will enable us to make so many improvements for such an important historical site. It might seem a bit strange to talk about a cemetery as a relaxing place to enjoy a walk – but Paxton’s London Road cemetery is a really beautiful setting and these improvements will ensure it is maintained and preserved for future generations to enjoy.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, this grant will help to open up some of the buildings that have been closed for many years and an education programme will help to make even more people aware of the cemetery.”

The project will also include an education initiative in recognition of the important Victorians buried within it, who had major influences on Coventry’s engineering history. This will include an increase in community engagement and activities to improve future maintenance.

The phased programme of works will also see improvements to the path network, new horticultural features and seating, repairs to stonework and significantly improved visitor facilities to the Anglican Chapel, including new toilets. The former mortuary chapels are set to be opened up to provide spaces for exhibitions, and tours and educational information will be organised around the site to highlight the cemetery’s historical importance.

Other improvements will include work to safeguard and extend the life of the trees within the cemetery, including the ‘candelabra’ lime trees, which have been a popular feature for many years with visitors to the cemetery.

Anne Jenkins, director of England, Midlands & East at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “London Road Cemetery in Coventry is a place of immense heritage value. Designed by Joseph Paxton it is Grade I listed and his only cemetery design.

“Cemeteries provide vital connections to our history, local communities and nature, although their role as public open spaces is often overlooked.  Thanks to National Lottery players this grant will support essential restoration work across this extraordinary cemetery; saving monuments at risk and maximising its potential as a green space for people to visit, use and enjoy.”