Regarding the Hollybrook Cemetery


Aug 6, 2012
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Hi guys, sorry for the intrusion with a slightly off topic post, but I hope it will become clear it is relevant.

Hollybrook cemetery in Southampton contains the graves of a number of the Tutanic survivors, five I believe are identified, including Frederick Fleet. My ancestor (Frank Holden) is also buried there, although known for actually not getting on board.

Anyone who has visited the cemetery for research or personal reasons has probably encountered the staff there, notable (in my experience) for being friendly and helpful.

To put some context in ... Southampton City is in a financial mess and has been engaged in a desperate slash and burn of services for some years now, it seems the spotlight of doom has turned to the cemetery staff.

These guys helped me find my ancestors graves', and pointed out some of the other titanic graves too ... something they are not obliged to do as they are only paid to maintain the place. It is, therefore, appropriate I should return the favour by posting this message from one of the guys in their hour of need. If any of you have visited the cemetery, or had dealings with the staff, I'm sure they'd appreciate a message of support.

All the best

Benedict Carey
Taken from this facebook page

STATEMENT FROM MALCOLM EMERY (known as Jim) — CEMETERY SUPERINTENDENT

I would like to point out that I have worked for Southampton City Council for the past 42 years with virtually no sickness during that time and with a good work record providing first class customer service to the public, Clergy and Funeral Directors. I have the most knowledge and experience of all the Council run Cemeteries in Southampton built up through all my years of working in them. This local knowledge will be lost. I am not saying that I am indispensable but I still have a lot to give in this post.

I open and close the main gates to the Cemetery seven days a week and open and close the toilets five days a week. I have also been cleaning the toilets in Hollybrook Cemetery in my own time as they had not been cleaned.

I would like to ask what happens regarding the opening and closing of the Cemetery Gates and to those people who travel down to the area looking for graves at the weekends.

Whilst I have lived here I have often been asked by members of the public to locate graves for them, some visitors have travelled a long way and have been really thankful that I have been able to help them. This was done willingly evenings and weekends as well as during the normal working day. Who will be here to help them?

I have also received a letter asking me to locate a grave for an elderly lady whose brother was in a ward grave as she had never been to Southampton and due to her age was never likely to. We found that grave and sent her a photo of it for her. She wrote to me thanking me that at last she knew where her brother was and now had peace of mind and closure after all these years.

I meet with bereaved families when they are arranging funerals so they are able to see where their loved ones are going to be buried. The families appreciate the time spent with them — it all helps with the grieving process and one of my concerns is what will happen when I am not here? I feel that some of the goodwill and good service will disappear when the position is gone.

I have only four years to retirement and to save money would have been happy to reduce my hours to part time. This would take into account the opening and closing of the gates, opening and closing the toilets and still being able to help the public. I willingly took a pay cut when the proposal came out on the understanding that it would save jobs, little knowing that it would not save mine.

I am aware that I have been offered and declined other job applications-
· Grave digging — this was declined on the fact that this is a heavy manual job which I have not done for 30 years and would find too manual at 61 years of age.
· Caretaker — this was declined because the job specifically asked for plumbing and carpentry experience. Experience of working with alarms and also with children. Having worked in the Cemeteries for 42 years I do not have the specific qualifications required.
· CCTV operator — I have worked outside for my whole working life and felt that I could not be confined to an office for 37.5 hours per week.

According to Charmain Browning HR Advisor my last working day will be 5th October 2012. As my job has been ‘deleted’ my tenure at Hollybrook Cemetery Lodge has been terminated leaving me homeless from that day despite constant assurances from previous Managers, the latest was Phil Wells last year, that I would be looked after by the Council.

Jim Emery