Special Collections holds the extensive records of the Leeds General Cemetery Company, dating from 1733 to 1992.
The Leeds General Cemetery Company was set up in 1833 with the aim to provide and maintain a public burial ground in Leeds. A committee was established to find a suitable plot of land, eventually choosing St George's Fields near Woodhouse Moor. The cemetery opened in 1835, with the first recorded burial on 23rd July.
The cemetery continued its work for well over a century, though from the 1930s onwards the site started to become overgrown and neglected. Then in 1956, the University of Leeds acquired the company by buying up all the shares. The University aimed to create an open public space with the cemetery site; to do so they obtained powers under the provisions of the University of Leeds Act (1965) to landscape the area. Headstones were removed and the site became a park under its original name of St George’s Fields. Burials ceased in 1969, but the site continued to be used for scatterings of ashes until 1992.
A more detailed history of the Leeds General Cemetery Company can be found in the collection catalogue.
The bulk of the material in the Leeds General Cemetery Company Ltd Archive is made up of business and administrative papers, with the majority originating from the period prior to the University of Leeds ownership. However, the collection also contains papers from the University Bursar’s Office relating to the acquiring and later management of the cemetery. The archive also contains burial registers and other records relating to burials.
The Leeds General Cemetery Burial Registers Index
The 25 burial registers have been digitised and transcribed, and are now openly available to search online through the Leeds General Cemetery Burial Registers Index.
See the Records of Burial guide for more details.
Image credit: Photographs of the Leeds General Cemetery, Dec 1962 [Ref: MS 421/6/1/5]