Thirty-two people have signed up to a controversial ‘grave-share’ scheme designed to combat a shortage of new burial spaces in a popular cemetery.
City of London Cemetery and Crematorium, in Aldersbrook Road, Manor Park, has an estimated 400 to 500 burials each year and just 3,000 new graves, meaning that it will run out of space in around six years.
Drastic measures to combat this - where new cadavres will be buried on top of existing remains - has seen 32 people sign up for it since 2008, who will have their names inscribed on the other side of existing memorial stones.
Only private graves which have not been used for more than 75 years and which have space for at least two more burials are being used in the project.
Superintendent and registrar Gary Burks said: “Most people don’t seem to mind the notion. It’s proved a lot less controversial than you’d think.”
In another corner of the 200-acre cemetery, 360 more people have already been buried in consecrated graves where the Diocese of Chelmsford gave its permission to remove remains to make space for new corpses.
The figures stand in strong contrast to Redbridge Council’s five cemeteries.
While just two - Roding Lane and Forest Park - have free space, they have a total of 13,800 empty graves and with a 2009 and 2010 average of 200 new burials, the council are confident they will not run out of space “for at least the next 50 years”, said a spokeswoman.
The City’s reused graves can be cheaper than their new ones - £3,640 compared to an average of £4,000 - but the cost can rise to £6,420 for a grave near the roadside.
Asim Nawaz, a bereavement service officer at the cemetery, believes the high demand for burials is down to its long-standing traditions and Grade I-listed English Heritage status.
He added: “The cemetery has been here since the 1800s and it has always been a very popular resting place.
"People wish to come here because their families have before them andbecause it’s such a large cemetery.”