In 1833 the Mayor of Newcastle, Henry Bell, was requested by many of the town’s leading citizens including John Dobson, architect, and Richard Grainger, property developer, to call a meeting ‘to form and establish, for the use of town, a General Cemetery a measure for which the crowded state of the church yards has long rendered necessary’.
The meeting was held in the Guildhall early in 1834 and it was agreed to form a private company to carry out the scheme with a share capital of £8000 (400 shares of £20) which was considered enough to cover purchase of the ground plus the necessary building and landscaping work. A Prospectus was issued inviting subscribers for shares and adding that the proposed cemetery would be on 11 acres in Jesmond Fields, owned by the Corporation, surrounded by cornfields and meadows. The cemetery would be open to all religious denominations, roughly one half as consecrated ground to ministered by the curate of St Andrew’s, in whose parish the cemetery would lie, and the other half as unconsecrated ground for all non-conformists
John Dobson was appointed architect and work began in 1835 when land was drained, three-metre walls erected to enclose the triangular site(to keep out the bodysnatchers), and construction got under way. It was declared open for burials on the 16th of November 1836. The Cemetery is the resting place of some of Newcastle's most influential and famous sons and daughters including John Dobson, Emerson Muschamp Bainbridge, founder of Bainbridge’s department store and naturalist Albany Hancock. The full list can be seen here.
Today the Archaeology Department of Tyne and Wear Museums and the County Archaeologist occupy the buildings and store equipment in the catacombs.
Information and text adapted from the excellent Friends Of Jesmond Old Cemetery.
Friends Of Jesmond Old Cemetery