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Cemetery rules and safety

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Visiting our cemeteries

Our cemeteries should be a place of peace and tranquillity, so we have rules in place which we expect all visitors to follow.

When visiting any of our cemeteries, please:

  • put rubbish in the bins provided
  • keep dogs on a lead at all times
  • keep voices at a normal volume and be respectful of other bereaved families in the cemetery
  • be respectful of other graves and memorials, as well as the cemetery environment, including benches, trees, and flowers

Graves and memorials

Memorials must follow our regulations, including:

  • headstone memorials can only be installed by one of our approved stonemasons
  • for traditional graves - items must be placed within the designated grave space/kerb set only, no items should be placed outside of this area
  • for lawn graves - no items can be placed in the lawn area, so the area is free for maintenance, for example grass cutting
  • for woodland/meadowland graves - no items can be placed in the area, so we can keep the area as a natural wooded/meadow burial area

Any items placed outside of the grave area, kerb set, or on or around graves which should be kept clear, may be removed.

The following items are not allowed:

  • wind chimes
  • balloons
  • glass ornaments
  • alcoholic drinks
  • artificial lighting

Some exceptions to this list are available in our baby burial areas. Please contact us to find out more.

If you're a registered grave owner, it's important to keep your contact details up to date with us. If you've recently moved house, please contact Bereavement Services to update your details.

Keeping cemeteries safe (headstone safety programme)

A grave owner is legally responsible for repairs and maintenance, but often the owner cannot be traced or is unwilling to carry out repairs. We have a duty of care to both cemetery visitors and our employees, so we must consider the risks from insecure headstones.

From 2003, we tested headstones using a nationally-recognised procedure involving applying a 35kg test pressure. Headstones which failed the test were classed as unsafe. The testing was first done in Linthorpe Cemetery, and 380 headstones were laid flat as a result.

In September 2005, the Executive agreed to reinstate loose and insecure headstones. From October, we re-erected 200 memorials in Thorntree Roman Catholic Cemetery, and contractors were asked to tender for 2,500 more memorials in cemeteries around Middlesbrough. Murray Memorials of Sunderland were appointed, and from April 2006 to June 2007 they re-erected headstones in various cemeteries (approximate numbers):

  • Acklam Cemetery - 1800
  • Thorntree Protestant and Muslim Cemetery - 490
  • Thorntree Roman Catholic Cemetery - 460

From January 2008, following a further tendering process, Borthwick Memorials of Hartlepool re-erected headstones (approximate numbers) in:

  • Linthorpe Cemetery - 100
  • North Ormesby Cemetery - 100
  • St Joseph's Cemetery, North Ormesby - 40

Since 2010 all headstones have been re-tested every 5 years.