2020 / 2021 News

Our new lawn mower donation will help restoration

FODC has bought a new lawn mower thanks to a donation.

The donation from Darwen’s Lloyd Trust has helped us purchase a new lawn mower to support the Groups restoration, preservation and development of the cemetery.

We are working on different sections within the cemetery and welcome relatives and friends to help volunteer in this restoration work.

Working in partnership with Blackburn with Darwen Council we have spent years renovating graves and features.

Alan Haslam, Kath Walsh. Peter Van Dijk, Anne Lamont, Linda Van Dijk

The mower will be used by our volunteers in the cemetery currently working in various sections, these include section 2, section 5a and section A.

Anyone wishing to volunteer, please via FODC website www.darwencemetry.org.uk

FODC May 2021

Remembrance Service 2020 & Family united with War Grave

The Friends of Darwen Cemetery last Friday marked the now Annual Children’s Yearly Remembrance Service in the Western Cemetery by putting out flags and crosses on over 100 Commonwealth War Graves, the crosses are normally put on the graves by the children following the service, but this year it was not possible due to the current Covid 19 pandemic, a representative laid a wreath at the Memorial Wall in the Cemetery after simple prayers led by Rev. David Bacon.

A very different service to our usual Remembrance Service this year, Rev. David Bacon.
Only three Trustees attended this years service, Diane, Paul and John.
The FODC Wreath laid during the service.

If you would like to see the service click on the you tube video above, the video was taken by Rev David Bacon.

Over the last few months historian Tony Foster, Chair of FODC has been researching soldiers who are buried in Darwen Cemetery but are not recognised as having a war grave.   After researching, the graves of Squire Howarth in an unmarked grave and John Farnhill, who died aged 39, were located and marked and added to the list of war graves in the cemetery and the grave details given to the family.

Wynn Godwin and Kevin Shaw, John Farnhill Grandchildren

Wynn Godwin and her brother Kevin Shaw grandchildren of John Farnhill were tending his grave as the flags and crosses were being placed by trustees of Friends of Darwen Cemetery and they were able to lay the flag for the first time on their grandfathers’ grave.

Wynn said, “Without Tony Fosters work our family would not know where our grandad was buried. We are so grateful to the FODC who place flags and poppies each year.”

Diane Davies, FODC Trustee, who runs the Adopt a War Grave scheme said, “The tradition of laying crosses on the war graves was started over 50 years ago by Pte Richard Westhead an East Lancashire regiment veteran, who sadly passed earlier this year.

Peter Westhead being interviewed by Naomi Cornwell for BBC North West back in 2018 when we unveiled our World War One Memorial.

He quietly, for over forty years following the service in the town, visited the cemetery and placed handmade crosses on the graves of his fallen comrades prior to FODC being formed.

”Tony Foster, Chair of FODC said, “This year as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has formally recognised two casualties from WW1, Private Squire Haworth

The unmarked Grave of Private Squire Haworth grave in Section B

and Driver John Farnhill. We must never forget their sacrifice. 

John Farnhill’s Grandson Kevin Shaw tends his Grandfathers grave in Section 5

We welcome residents to visit the cemetery, observing the graves and memorials and perhaps tend their own family graves as part of the FODC restoration and improvement of the cemetery.”

Some of the Commonwealth Graves that have been attended over the weekend.

FODC November 2020

Friends of Darwen Cemetery

2020 Remembrance Service

It is with great regret that the Annual Remembrance Services this year due to be held in the Western Cemetery on Friday 6th November and Sunday 8th November have both been cancelled due to Covid 19 Restrictions.

Our primary concern is for the safety of the Public at these Services. FODC

FODC October 2020

One in a Million

Anne Lamont one of the FODC Volunteers working in a section of Darwen Western Cemetry – repairing gutters. Fantastic commitment of just one volunteer of the group which meets regularly observing social distancing. See the FODC website for dates to volunteer.

Over recent years the FODC have made a transformation of restoration of the cemetery which opened in 1851.

Ann working on Section 2 in the Western Cemetery

Tony Foster Chair said, “People like Anne whose dedication is outstanding is in team of fellow volunteers whose contribution is incredible. Please come along and join us.”

FODC August 2020

Sad News of the Death of Maureen

It was with great sadness that we learnt last week that one of our original working party volunteers has passed away.

Maureen Roberts was a lovely lady who helped regularly at our working parties  with a zest for life she was a pleasure to have around. Maureen worked with the young people who used to come and loved to encourage them.

She would take on any task with her usual enthusiasm and gusto and would not stop until it was finished. She helped whenever she could to raise the profile of the cemetery group and whenever you saw her intown she could always enquire about members.

Maureen tended her own families graves in the Eastern Cemetery and would also tend a war grave in memory of her father.

She will be missed greatly by all who knew her RIP Maureen

The picture shows Maureen at a working party after tending one of the war graves in the run up to Remembrance Day 2010

FODC May 2020
Photo by Diane Davies

Our 100th Commonwealth War Grave

PRIVATE Squire Haworth, who has lain in an unmarked grave the Western Cemetery for over 100 years, has finally been recognised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Our memorial to commemorate the Centenary of the end of the 1st World War to the servicemen buried in the western cemetery which was unveiled in July 2018

He will now have his own memorial, in Portland stone, and he will be the 100th member of the armed forces to be so recognised in the town’s old cemetery.

The honour is due to the diligence and determination of our Chairman Tony Foster, Tony who is also a well-known local historian came across the story of Private Haworth when researching the story of another Great War soldier and was intrigued, probably because of his unusual Christian name. After several month’s work, he persuaded the war graves executive that he should finally be recognised.

Tony did not realise at first that he would be the 100th Darwen lad in the cemetery to be granted the honour. Which is quite a landmark for the Friends of Darwen Cemetery and a fitting memorial for Pte Howorth.

Squire was born in Hacking Street, Darwen on January 29, 1891, the son of Squire Haworth and Mary. The family later moved to Hutchinson Court and by the time of the 1911 census they were living at 180 Duckworth Street. Squire was a reacher-in in a local cotton mill.

In April, 1915 he joined the East Lancashire Regiment and six weeks later he was posted to France. It was towards the end of the Second Battle of Ypres, the encounter in which the Germans first used poisonous gas as a weapon of mass destruction.

It was shortly after this battle that Squire started to complain of weakness and excessive thirst and his Army record shows he was suffering from diabetes. He was returned to England in February, 1916 and discharged on medical grounds the following month.

He returned to Darwen where he died in a diabetic coma in June. He was awarded two medals but his name wasn’t included in the CWGC’s Roll of Honour.

However, his home town did not forget him and his name was put on the elegant brass war memorial in Duckworth Street Congregational Church, now the Central United Reformed Church.

The memorial to those who fell in the world wars at the Central United Reformed Church. Squire’s name is towards the bottom of the first column.

It will take several months for burial details to be checked and verified, but a short ceremony is planned to mark the unveiling.

Meanwhile, the search for a photograph of Pte Haworth goes on, in the past we have been very successful in tracing photos of our war dead, as yet we haven’t made any headway with Squire.

FODC February 2020