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New memorial stone is unveiled

Stonemason father and son Graham and Rob Dowdell by the new memorial they helped to create  in Milton Cemetery.

Stonemason father and son Graham and Rob Dowdell by the new memorial they helped to create in Milton Cemetery.

 

For such a relatively small area – about 14 square miles – Portsea Island is well-equipped to deal with its dead.

It has three main cemeteries - Kingston, Highland and Milton. The first two were both opened in 1854 and are 52 and 17 acres respectively.

The 25-acre Milton Cemetery in Milton Road was opened in 1912 in the same week that the Titanic went down.

Another, and more private cemetery, is in Fawcett Road, once known as Jews Lane (I suppose because of the Jewish cemetery there).

What must be the oldest burial ground on the island, it was acquired in 1749 and has graves dating from before 1800 up to 1980. I believe it is still used occasionally.

One of the saddest uses for Milton cemetery was for the interment of stillborn babies and those who died shortly after birth. Hundreds are interred in special areas of the cemetery. Most have no memorial stone, but I am glad to say that a new memorial dedicated to all those babies has been unveiled.

The idea for the memorial was that of the cemetery manager Gerard O’Brien, who has been in charge of the city’s cemeteries for nine years.

From 1946 stillborn deaths were recorded but after being interred in an adult grave no headstone was allowed.

The memorial was sculpted in China to a basic design proposed by Gerry and adapted by Graham and Rob Dowdell, father and son stonemasons of Alver Road, Fratton.

 

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