How long will the Future Cemetery last....? 125 years at least!

The Future Cemetery made another leap forward this week, with the signing of a 125-year lease agreement between Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust and Bristol

The Future Cemetery made another leap forward this week, with the signing of a 125-year lease agreement between Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust and Bristol City Council.

Who knew the Future would stretch that far?!

Time to go back to the dark digital days of the 1980s, when Arnos Vale Cemetery was falling into serious decline as income from cemetery services had dwindled to a trickle....

When the then owner of Arnos Vale announced his intentions to close the site in the 1990's, concerned members of the community campaigned tirelessly to keep it open.  Eventually in 2003 Bristol City Council compulsorily purchased Arnos Vale Cemetery. 

But there was no time to rest on this victory as investment and long term management was needed, so Bristol City Council, in partnership with individual supporters and Friends formed the Arnos Vale Cemetery trust (AVCT), a registered charity to lead the fundraising campaign to restore the cemetery.

At that time an original lease agreement between Bristol City Council and Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust was drafted and was subject to the completion of an ambitious £5.2million restoration project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and many charitable donations to restore Arnos Vale's historic grounds, monuments and buildings and transform the 45-acre site into a heritage, wildlife, education and visitor centre.

Now that the restoration project has been successfully completed, Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust is working hard to implement a new five-year business plan, which emphasises the need to continually raise funds to secure the cemetery's long-term future.  The agreement of the updated 125-year lease agreement with the city council brings an added imperative to succeed.

Cllr Gary Hopkins, Bristol's executive member for environment and community safety says "This 125-year lease agreement is a public show of the city council's confidence in the Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust.  Anyone who has visited the cemetery since the completion of the restoration project will be impressed with what AVCT has achieved.  Their commitment and dedication to making Arnos Vale a success on every level can be seen across the 45-acre site.  The attention to detail and the focus on the natural environment is to be applauded. Their business plan is robust and signing the lease endorses our belief that, with continued hard work and support, Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust has an excellent opportunity to secure the cemetery's long-term future.  I am personally confident that AVCT has the visiion, enthusiasm and expertise to take the cemetery forward."

Lori Streich, Chair of AVCT, added: "A tremendous amount of work has gone into establishing Arnos Vale as one of the country's best and only fully restored Victorian garden cemeteries - thanks to the Friends of Arnos Vale, all our volunteers, staff and partners.  Its potential is enormous and the lease is a vote of confidence in our ability to realise the potential of the Trust to build on its success as an outstanding heritage, wildlife, education and visitor attraction."

Representatives from AVCT and Bristol City Council sign the 125 lease. 

Just goes to show what a commitment to the Future Cemetery really looks like for small historic cemeteries.