Grieving families face an 100-mile round trip to cremate their loved ones when west Cumbria’s only crematorium temporarily closes this week.
Copeland council will shut down Distington Crematorium for 10 days on Friday while a £500,000 revamp is carried out.
That means families who want to cremate their lost relatives could be forced to travel 40 miles to Carlisle, 50 miles to Barrow or wait for Distington to reopen.
The crematorium carries out around four cremations every week day and the major revamp will see the two existing cremators – in place for 17 years – replaced by one bigger and more efficient unit.
The main hall would also be improved, extra car parking spaces provided, a revamp of the Cloister Garden as well as providing round-the-clock access to the book of remembrance in the Chapel of Remembrance.
Pat Graham, Copeland’s director for people and places, said that the council was investing significantly in the crematorium to “modernise the equipment and give people an improved environment”.
“We are working to complete the upgrade to a very ambitious timetable that will see the crematorium closed for just a little more than a week,” she added.
“The nearest alternative crematoria are at Carlisle and Barrow. We recognise this will inconvenience some people for a short period, but when the crematorium reopens it will offer people the very best facilities.”
Carlisle City Council has said that the city’s crematorium – 40 miles away – would be able to cope with the extra cremations from west Cumbria.
A council spokeswoman said that the crematorium is carrying out around 30 to 35 cremations a week, when it can cater for 50 at this time of year.
“We have the capacity to cope with any extra services from Distington Crematorium as we believe that on average they carry out some 20 cremations max per week,” she added.
“If we need to we can also open the crematorium for services to be held on a Saturday if the demand is there.”
West Cumbrian families are being advised to approach their undertakers to discuss the options during the shutdown.
Copeland council said it had worked closely with local undertakers and clergy throughout the process and people could get in contact with them at the crematorium, as the offices will remain open throughout the refurbishment.