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Crematorium procedures

In order for us to provide the proper standard of service as befitting the sensitivity of the occasion, please read the below information fully.

The cremation may be delayed, postponed or cancelled if the procedures are not followed.

Procedures may be updated from time to time so please check with the office staff when the arrangements are made.

Notice required for cremations

The minimum period of notice normally required for cremations is two working days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays).

Confirmation in writing

The initial booking arrangements will be accepted over the telephone. Written confirmation via the council's notice of cremation form must be received at the Cemeteries and Crematorium Office by 11am on the last working day before the cremation, at the latest. This form must be fully completed with all the necessary information.

The appropriate statutory forms for cremation and the registrar’s or coroner’s disposal certificate must be submitted with the notice of cremation.

Responsibility for instructions and subsequent changes

Funeral instructions and any subsequent changes will only be accepted from the funeral director, or if there is no funeral director, the person making the funeral arrangements.

Any change to the written instructions on the notice of cremation must be confirmed in writing immediately and will not be acted upon until the written confirmation is received. Such changes, e.g. cancellation, change of time etc. may result in additional costs.

Times for cremations

Cremation services are currently arranged at 30 minute intervals between the following times:

Monday to Friday: 9am to 12pm and 1pm to 4pm in St Bede's Chapel, and 9:15am to 12:15pm and 1:15pm to 3:45pm in St Hilda's Chapel, with reduced charges for the 9am and 9:15am services.

Saturday: 9am to 11am in St Bede's Chapel and 9:15am to 11:15am in St Hilda's Chapel.

Service times may be extended from 30 minutes to 1 hour for a very small additional charge, subject to availability.

Funerals arriving early or late may be required to wait. The allotted service time of 30 minutes (allowing time to enter and leave the chapel) must not be exceeded as this may delay other services and cause additional distress.

Cremation services

The chapels are not consecrated and are therefore suitable for all religious and non-religious services. All religious symbols are removable. Families can choose which chapel they want to use.

The service book in use is the ‘Funeral Services of the Christian Churches’ 1994 edition, for Church of England, Roman Catholic and Free Church services. Other service books and hymn sheets may be provided by the funeral director. 

To reduce potential delays, collections and the signing of books of condolence are not permitted inside or immediately outside the crematorium chapels.

Music at cremation services

Organs are available in each chapel but the council does not provide an organist. Organists can be arranged by the funeral director.

Music during the service is restricted to two items, e.g. two hymns or one hymn and one piece of music. This does not include music on entry and exit.

There is equipment to play bespoke family CDs only, i.e. a family member(s) singing. To avoid mistakes the CD should be clearly marked and delivered to the crematorium at least one working day before the funeral takes place. We do not accept commercial CDs. 

The council has an extensive library of music and we can obtain most commercially-available music if we are given 72 hours' notice.

Type and size of coffin

There are requirements on the construction of coffins for cremation to minimise pollution; these are available on request and must be strictly followed. All coffins must have a nameplate and will not be accepted if they leak.

Coffins that are not of traditional design, e.g. any coffin originating from outside the UK, cardboard coffins, or any other special or unusual designs, may not be permitted, and therefore must be approved in advance by the council.

The maximum size of coffin that can safely be cremated is as follows:

St Bede’s:

  • Length - 7 feet, 2 inches
  • Width - 32 inches 
  • Depth - 22 inches

St Hilda’s

  • Length - 7 feet, 2 inches
  • Width - 40 inches
  • Depth - 26 inches 

For large coffins, i.e. over the maximum dimensions listed above, the crematorium must be notified in advance of the size and shape. The sizes must take into account any handles or other fittings which project from the sides or ends of the coffin.

If you wish to place any additional items in the coffin with the deceased, you must obtain permission from the council in advance.

Pacemakers, cochlear implants, radioactive implants, false limbs, plaster casts, and any other item or implant that might pose a safety risk, must be removed before the cremation takes place and written confirmation must be provided.

Coffin bearers

The funeral director or other person responsible for the funeral arrangements must provide sufficient persons to carry the coffin from the hearse to the catafalque. A wheeled bier is available to convey the coffin to the catafalque.

Cremated remains

The choices for the disposal of cremated remains are:

  • Scatter in the Garden of Remembrance
  • Burial in or scattering on a grave
  • Sealing in an above-ground vault
  • Removal from the crematorium for disposal elsewhere

Cremated remains will be scattered in the Garden of Remembrance on the second day after the cremation service. Appointments can be made for families to be present when cremated remains are scattered but a charge will be made for this. Cremated remains can be stored at the crematorium for up to one month, after which a charge will be made.

The Garden of Remembrance is divided into 12 monthly plots and cremated remains are scattered on the appropriate plot according to the month of cremation. If any cremated remains are to be scattered with those of a previous cremation which was before 1983, this needs to be brought to our attention so they are scattered on the correct plot.

All cremations take place according to the ‘Code of Cremation Practice’ issued by the Federation of British Cremation Authorities, of which Middlesbrough Council is a member. Copies of the code are available free of charge from the Cemeteries and Crematorium Office.

All cremations are carried out individually but exceptions can be made in the following circumstances:

  • Mother and child
  • Twin babies or children
  • Foetal remains

It is important to note that when cremating an infant, there are occasions when no tangible remains are left after the process has been completed. Parents are asked to be aware of this when choosing cremation, or choose the option of burial instead.

Comments and complaints

We welcome any comments you may have about the crematorium. Any complaint or compliment about the service provided by the council should be sent, as soon as possible, to the Bereavement Services Manager at the Cemeteries and Crematorium Office. The council also has an official complaints and compliments procedure.