This section is from the book "Modern Buildings, Their Planning, Construction And Equipment Vol5", by G. A. T. Middleton. Also available from Amazon: Modern Buildings.
The first crematorium to be erected in this country was at Woking in 1879, but no cremation was performed until 1885, owing to the law forbidding the burning of human remains. In 1883 a cremation took place in Wales in defiance of the coroner's authority, followed by legal proceedings. These resulted, in 1884, in the decision of Mr. Justice Stephens declaring that cremation was a legal procedure, provided it was performed without nuisance to others. In 1884 the House of Commons refused to pass a bill for the regulation of cremation. The Government, however, in 1902, passed an Act for the regulation of the burning of human remains and to enable burial authorities to establish crematoria. This Act, which came into force on the first day of April 1903, provides for the maintenance of crematoria and burial-grounds or anything incidental thereto, and stipulates that no human remains shall be burned in any crematorium until the plans of the site shall have been approved by the Local Government Board, and until the burial authority shall have given notice to the Home Secretary that the building is completed and properly equipped for the purpose. It provides that no crematorium shall be constructed within 200 yards of any dwelling, except with the consent in writing of the owner, lessee, and occupier of such houses, nor within 50 yards of any public highway, nor in the consecrated portion of any burial-ground of any burial authority.
Fig. 21. - Crematorium and Mortuary Chapel at Leicester. [Goddard & Co., F.R.I.B.A.'s, Architects.
It might be mentioned that an exception was made in regard to the Ilford Crematorium, which is erected in a secluded portion of the Consecrated ground of the city of London Cemetery.
A great consideration in determining the plan of a crematorium depends upon whether any provision is to be made for the storage of urns, and as to the design and number of cremating furnaces to be installed.
In considering the particular position of the building on a site, it is well to remember that, though unconse-crated, they are in a great measure sacred to their particular calling, and therefore should be placed so that the head of the catafalque faces due east.
It must be borne in mind that the relative positions of the catafalque and the incinerating chamber should be such as will allow of the removal of the coffin and its contents from the chapel to the furnace with as little time and handling as possible.
The Chapel In the design of the chapel the interior architectural treatment should be such as will not add any depression to a gathering necessarily sad. In determining the size, the first point to consider is that its superficial area shall be sufficient to allow of the provision of seating, clergy's desk, and the catafalque, in addition to any niches for urns. The chapels in the crematoria at Hull and Ilford are so small that little space is available for seating. The following are the dimensions of the principal crematoria in this country - Woking, 48 feet long by 24 feet 6 inches wide; Golders Green, 70 by 25 feet; Manchester, 50 by 25 feet; Leicester, 43 by 24 feet, with a chancel 17 by 17 feet 6 inches; Birmingham, 50 by 25 feet; Ilford, 25 by 24 feet, while the one at Hull is only 24 by 24 feet.
The chapel or hall ought to have a minimum floor space of 1200 superficial feet, which will allow for the provision of seating and the catafalque, and leave little or no wasted space.
The Catafalque, Cremating Chamber, and Furnaces 19