Volunteers step in to claim long neglected Leeds burial ground

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A charity has been set up in Leeds to purchase and reclaim a historic burial ground which was neglected for decades.

Farsley Rehoboth Baptist Burial Ground fell into disrepair while it was under private ownership, which meant the public was denied access to the ground to visit their loved ones for many years.

Family links: Chris Pratt, MD of Gaunts Ltd, next to Gaunts family headstone. Picture: James Hardisty.

Family links: Chris Pratt, MD of Gaunts Ltd, next to Gaunts family headstone. Picture: James Hardisty.

Now, a group of volunteers have stepped in and raised funds to buy and reclaim the overgrown land, with the aim of returning it to the community.

Residents will be able to honour the many Farsley people who were buried there and a peaceful woodland conservation area will be created.

Progress has already been made to clear the area, including help from Year 12 Priesthorpe Academy students. And Gaunts Ltd, owners of Springfield Mills in Farsley, has offered a secure space for volunteers to keep all their tools and machinery after a recent theft.

Due to the burial ground’s 200-year history and woodland location, the charity has been running fully-booked weekend tours for local people interested in its past and for families who have relatives buried there.

Family links: Chris Pratt, MD of Gaunts Ltd,  with members of a charity who want to buy and reclaim the derelict burial ground. 'Picture: James Hardisty.

Family links: Chris Pratt, MD of Gaunts Ltd, with members of a charity who want to buy and reclaim the derelict burial ground. 'Picture: James Hardisty.

The Gaunts family were also keen to help and donate to the cause, as Springfield and Broom Mills founder, Reuben Gaunt, and some of his family and workers were also buried there.

Springfield Mills was a big woollen mill of it’s time producing wool and cloth for the UK and overseas during the 19th and 20th century and still remains a busy commercial site for more than 60 local businesses today.

For more information about the project or to volunteer, visit https://m.facebook.com/farsleyrehoboth/ or email Frances at farsleyrehoboth@gmail.com.

The overgrown burial ground.

The overgrown burial ground.

Reuben Gaunt.

Reuben Gaunt.