Fire-damaged Northumberland crematorium to stay closed until autumn

The fire at Cowpen Crematorium.
The fire at Cowpen Crematorium.

Northumberland’s only crematorium is unlikely to re-open before October following a serious fire.

A blaze broke out at Cowpen Crematorium in Blyth in March, forcing dozens of families to re-arrange the funerals of their loved ones.

The historic chapels were unaffected, but significant damage was caused to electrics, steel work and the roof, as well as to the cremation equipment and the building that houses it.

Now Northumberland County Council says that work is well under way to restore the premises, but the facility will not re-open until mid-October.

Council Policy Board Member for Streetcare and Environment Ian Swithenbank said: “We appreciate the significant distress and inconvenience this has caused to families and have been working hard to get this facility up and running again as quickly as possible.

“We now have a clear timetable of works and the crematorium will re-open for services in mid-October.

We appreciate the significant distress and inconvenience this has caused.

Ian Swithenbank, Policy Board Member for Streetcare and Environment

“We’re continuing to work with neighbouring local authorities and have received excellent support from them to ensure that bereaved families are able to access crematorium services without any delays.

“We’re also working closely with funeral directors to keep them updated on developments.”

A detailed investigation into the cause of the fire is continuing and forensic investigators are still to release their final assessment

However, there is no evidence to suggest the blaze was started deliberately.

Early indications are that the most likely cause was the transfer of heat from machinery and flues into the roof structure. This may have caused a fire to break out in the roof.

Work is under way to remove the damaged roof and strip-out the destroyed equipment and wiring.

A new roof should be in place by the end of June, which will ensure the building is fully watertight before specialists begin replacing all the damaged mechanical and electrical components.

Bereaved families are still welcome to scatter cremated remains in the grounds of the crematorium and the council is still undertaking burials at the cemetery there.

Anyone with concerns or questions about the crematorium should ring the council’s customer service line on 0845 600 6400.