Investment Set To Save Anfield Catacombs

ALMOST £300,000 is set to be spent preventing further decay at historic catacombs in Liverpool’s Anfield Cemetery. The North and South catacombs – made of red sandstone and Grade 11 listed – were constructed in 1863, flanked by large Roman Catholic and Anglican Chapels which no longer survive. They have been deteriorating for many decades, and although some repair work has been carried out in recent years, more is needed to halt the deterioration of the fabric and structure. Anfield Cemetery is one of the council’s top heritage priorities, and has more than 20 buildings and structures of special interest. A report to the Cabinet on Friday 13 November is recommending acceptance of a grant of £235,000 from Historic England which will be supported with another £55,000 of council funding. The money will be used to stabilise the catacombs and halt the deterioration while the funding necessary to protect the long term future of the cemetery is sought. Cabinet member for regeneration, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, said: “Anfield Cemetery is a magnificent Victorian structure which not only has a fascinating history but is also a significant site for generations of Liverpool people. “Sadly, parts of the site have fallen into disrepair over many decades, and what we want to do now is stop the deterioration at the catacombs while, in the longer term, we work with the Friends of Anfield Cemetery and other partners to secure external funding to restore them to their former glory. “The number of historically significant at-risk buildings in the city is at a 24 year low thanks to our commitment to bringing back into use dilapidated and rundown buildings.” The underground passageways beneath the structure were filled in during the 1990s to prevent access and stop thieves searching for lead and jewellery. Deputy Mayor, Councillor Ann O’Byrne, said: “This is part of our ongoing commitment to reverse decades of underinvestment in Anfield. “It complements the huge amount of work already underway as part of the Anfield Project to improve housing, create new job opportunities for the local community and complete the restoration of Stanley Park.” Tom Bradburn from the Friends of Anfield Cemetery, said: “Liverpool City Council and Historic England have been brilliant, giving us their full support throughout. “The proposed investment in the two large catacombs represents a major step forward towards fulfilling our aims, which are to get Anfield’s Grade II* cemetery off Historic England’s At Risk Register and building an International Heritage and Visitor Centre, enabling us to serve the community and play a full part in the region’s heritage and cultural future.’’ If approved, it is anticipated that work will start in April 2016.