Despite opposition from Shipley Council, who were opening their own new cemetery at Nab Wood, and criticism in the local paper, Rev Arthur Cribb was determined to go ahead with a church cemetery on the site he had purchased.He wasn’t without support. A correspondent, writing under the name Telephone, said in a letter to the local paper:“I notice that the vicar and churchwardens of St Paul’s, Shipley, have completed their code of rules and scale of fees for their new cemetery and upon the whole they are to be congratulated upon the result of their work.“The new ground is six acres in extent and is expected to be consecrated shortly; in fact, the convenience of the Bishop in the matter is now all that prevents the ceremony taking place at once.400 years“I should think we have sufficient burial ground in Shipley now to last for about 500 years.“St Paul’s churchyard has been open during about 70 years and in that period somewhere about 8,200 persons have been interred therein. At that rate, therefore, the new church cemetery will last at least 400 years.“But there being also the Nab Wood Cemetery in existence, it is probably that even this long period may be further extended and as there are also about twenty acres in the Nab Wood Cemetery, it is pretty obvious that we shall be provided for in this direction for some centuries at any rate.”That was to prove somewhat optimistic.The burial ground was consecrated by the Bishop of Ripon, the Right Rev Dr Boyd Carpenter, on 17 August 1895 and the Shipley Times & Express described what must have been an impressive occasion
“The proceedings opened by the formation of a procession at the church. About 700 Sunday-school scholars and teachers bearing a banner, formed the vanguard, and they were followed by the officials of the church, the members of St Paul’s choir in their surplices and the clergy in their robes.“The Bishop rode in an open carriage and two other carriages were filled with ladies.“The churchwarden’s wands were borne by Mr Fred Ives (on behalf of Mr Edmund Pullan, vicar’s warden) and Mr J S Watts (people’s warden).“In very warm and beautiful weather, the procession advanced up Kirkgate and on Bingley Road towards the cemetery. At the bottom of Moorhead Lane the ranks were augmented by the members of the choir of St Peter’s Mission Church situated in Moorhead Lane.“A great amount of interest appeared to be taken in the ceremony and whilst many contented themselves with a view of the procession, a large number of people of all denominations attended at the cemetery.“The various paths of the cemetery were perambulated by the choristers and clergy who sang appropriate psalms and hymns.“Eventually a halt was made and the formal ceremony of consecration took place. At the entrance to the burial ground the vicar, the Rev A W Cribb, had presented the Bishop a petition, praying for the consecration and now, after a
hymn had been sung, Mr Wise (diocesan registrar) read the sentence of consecration.”In the course of a short address, the Bishop included a reflection on the effect the burial ground might have in the future.“Anyone entering into a grave-yard,” he said, “which was full of gravestones, might perhaps pass from one grave to another to read – half out of curiosity, half out of sentiment – the inscriptions recorded on those stones.“Let them remember, however, that those inscriptions were evidences that love had lost much which had one time been held dear.“Behind them were sad stories of suffering and loss, of agonised moments and the thought that the loved ones who were so dear were their friends no more.“Whenever they looked through a grave-yard, there was always sorrow expressed and the feeling aroused that those who are buried would be followed by their own poor, inert bodies.“In the prayer they had just offered they reminded themselves that there was a difference between the beast which went downwards and the spirit of man that went upwards to God.”TeaThe ceremony concluded with the pronouncing of the Benediction. Subsequently 700 children and 400 adults were entertained to tea at the schools, the expenses being defrayed by voluntary subscription.The first burial came ten days later when “Sarah Bairstow, late of Wycliffe Place, was buried and a second interment was made on the following day, the body of Joseph Dawson, late of St Paul’s Terrace, being that committed to the earth.”Rev Arthur Cribb had ensured his parishioners had a consecrated graveyard but his problems were far from resolved, especially financial.