Monday, 22 September 2014

Adventures in Bolton: Tonge Cemetery

Tonge Cemetery is a reasonably large cemetery in Bolton, just around the corner from my flat near enough and somewhere I chose to explore as part of one of my weekends. According to Deceased Online

Tonge Cemetery was the first municipal cemetery in Bolton when it opened on New Years Eve 1856 and was known simply as Bolton cemetery. In 2002, English Heritage considered Tonge cemetery to be of sufficient historical interest to be placed on the Register of Parks and Gardens as a Grade II listed site. Its architect and landscape designer William Henderson also designed Corporation Park in Blackburn, Alexandra park in Oldham and Bolton's Queens park.Tonge Cemetery has many impressive old memorials featuring prominent industrialists and other citizens from the area. However, perhaps the most famous burial is that of Fred Dibnah, the steeplejack who became a cult TV personality with his programmes, made in the 1980s and 1990s, on industrial heritage and engineering mostly from the industrial revolution. Dibnah died in 2004 and his memorial, together with over 4,000 others, is available in the data on the website.Another tragic but curious burial record is that for Thomas McCarte (aka MacCarte) who died in 1872. The unfortunate Mr McCarte was a lion tamer with the visiting 'Manders Menagerie' and he had already lost an arm working in his chosen profession with Bell and Myers' Circus at Liverpool. On January 3rd, 1872, Mr McCarte, billed as 'Massarti the Lion Tamer', commenced what was to be his final performance in Bolton. You can read a rather gruesome and detailed account of his confrontation with an 'Asian Lion' in a New York Times archive

I never managed to get a photo of Fred Dibnah's grave so I'll very much have to go back and look for it! But I did get a few photos on my phone, it's a beautiful peaceful place to visit and I've been back a few times just for some peace. These are the photos I got on my first visit, they're only phone photos I'm afraid – if you want to find some beautiful cemetery photography then I'd heartily recommend going over to Becky's or Kaylah's blogs.

This was a lovely secluded old corner of the cemetery under a tree, I just liked all the ivy growing here. A lot of the graves were unreadable though.

I didn't get very many pictures of the newer sections of the cemetery, it wasn't that it wasn't lovely - a lot of the graves were beautiful with some really stunning and touching memorials left on the graves. I'm not very spiritual but a lot of them really struck me and that's saying something (there were a few moments where it hit me a little hard, especially concerning grandparents). It just felt a little too personal and intrusive to take many pictures.

It was sad to see the old central church in the cemetery in such disrepair. I know it's a long time since it was last used, but still, it is a little saddening to see the boarded up doors.


  1. Hi we are looking for a picture of the headstone for Lion Tamer Thomas MacCarte do you have one please

  2. Hi we are looking for a picture of the headstone for Lion Tamer Thomas MacCarte do you have one please


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