Ford Park Cemetery Trust was formed in 2000 when the original Plymouth, Devonport & Stonehouse Cemetery went into administration. At that time the cemetery grounds were in a poor state of repair as was the Victorian Chapel.
The grounds have been cleared of unwanted growth and the cemetery is now fully operational. The Victorian Chapel has been restored and includes a memorial to all the civilians who were killed during the Blitz.
Alan Bricknell runs the Heritage team at the cemetery, along with a group of a dozen volunteers. Most of his family are buried at the cemetery beginning with their first family burial in 1868.
The Heritage team put on four exhibitions each year and lead public walks. There are also a series of fund raising events during the year organised by the Friends of Ford Park Cemetery, such as quarterly fayres, history talks, concerts, a craft club, and they publish an events calendar.
Each year since the start of the History Festival, the cemetery has organised two exhibitions, two public walks and one or two history talks on a variety of topics. They have always been well supported by the public with the walks attracting around 100 people each year.
They have a Facebook page, a website and an Events Calendar each year. The local newspapers usually include details of their events and the Visitor Centre is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays where visitors can pick up more information about the cemetery. They also publish three Heritage Trail booklets.
The Friends of Ford Park Cemetery are always pleased to welcome new members. Application forms are available at the Visitor Centre or by email.
Commonwealth War Graves
The Trust is privileged to have responsibility for the remembrance and commemoration of over one thousand war graves. The Army, Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Air Force are all represented by the military burials that have been held at Ford Park in years gone by. Their sacrifice is cherished by all who work at and visit Ford Park. The descendants of some of those buried at Ford Park still tend the graves and regularly leave flowers.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has awarded the Trust the maintenance contract for our own grounds staff to cut the grass for these war graves of which many are the distinctive pale Portland Stone headstones. We have also on behalf of the Commission restored about 175 individual ones. There are also 530 slate headstones on naval graves which are mainly in the care of the Ministry of Defence.
One feature which is common to most Commonwealth War Graves sites, typically those with more than 40 graves, is the Cross of Sacrifice. The Cross of Sacrifice at Ford Park is to be found just inside the lower gate of the cemetery.
The inscription on the cross of sacrifice reads “To the honoured memory of those sailors and soldiers who gave their lives for their country in the great war 1914 – 1918 and who lie buried in this cemetery.”