The Friends of Houghton Hillside Cemetery
Houghton Hillside Cemetery
Misc Information

Throughout 2008 the Friends had numerous conservation days at Hillside.  Now that we are into 2009 conservation days have already began once again, and many more are planned.  The pictures below show the group's work to start and tidy up the site before the various events take place which are planned for the current year.

The first task which the group carried out was to dismantle a 'den' which had been erected in the trees on the bottom level

The following photographs are from 17th February 2009



The following photographs are from 3rd March 2009



The following photographs were taken on 17th March 2009

On 17th March 2009 over 60 volunteers attended Hillside to carry out conservation work.  Brian Watson of Csv Action, Sunderland,  organised the day and the event was named 'Grave Expectations'.  The amount of work carried out was absolutely amazing.  In twelve months the group could not have carried out the amount of work which was done in 1 day!!!!!  The Friends cannot thank Brian and his colleagues enough!


Pictured left above are the volunteers which attended Hillside.  A brief health and safety talk was given before the work began.  One of the tasks undertaken was the repair of the Elliott Vault.  A short time ago the vault's metal sheeting which secured the front was torn down.  It is now securely back in place.  The replaced sheeting is pictured to the right above.

Another major task which was undertaken was the removal of the graffiti from the cliff face and also the Lych Gate.  Pictured above is the cliff face after the graffiti was removed.  A much bigger improvement.  Pictured to the right is the two of the graves located along the path leading to the extension of Hillside.  All of the ivy has been removed to once again expose the graves.


The pathway leading to the extension has been cleared and widened and once again visitors will be able to walk safely along it.


Pictured left above is a corner of the lower level which the group have not accessed in the past.  It is now beautifully clear and also further headstones were discovered.  Pictured to the right is the area where the 'den' once stood on the lower level.   It is now totally clear opening up the area and hopefully will allow wild flowers to once again bloom.


At the entrance of Hillside the small garden was cleared allowing the daffodils, crocuses and irises to bloom.  Also the pathway leading up to Hillside has also been cleared of weeds.  That in itself was a major task. 

Photographs taken during conservation works on 24th March 2009

On 24th March 2009 the Friends were assisted by South Hill College of Sunderland.  The staff and students of South Hill College have promised to help the group on a regular basis.


Pictured above some of the Friends tidying up after taking down some old dead trees and using the removed branches etc to rebuild the fences around the perimiter of the site.



The above four pictures show some of the areas cleared by the Friends during conservation work.


Pictured above - lunchtime at Hillside.  The Friends often bring a packed lunch so work can carry on throughout the day.

The following photographs were taken during conservation on 7th April 2009

Before                                                           After

Some of the Friends had an amazing conservation day on 7th April 2009.  Not only did they carry out some extensive clearing but they also uncovered no less than 12 new headstones which had lain buried for numerous years.  As an added bonus the original celtic cross which had once adorned the top of the memorial which the group intend to restore was also uncovered.  Truly an amazing find.



Pictured above is newly discovered celtic cross which has been buried in the undergrowth for many many years. 

The following photographs were taken durng the conservation day on 5th May 2009


A section of the lower level is now completely clear after the hard work of the Friends and other outside organisations which have been helping out.  The section in question has not been totally cleared for a long long time.  Upon clearance the Friends discovered many more headstones which have been buried for numerous years.  Sadly only several are fully intact.  Some however are legible and it has been possible to read the inscriptions.  The groups collection of headstone inscriptions is growing all the time something which the group are very pleased with.

On Going Conservation

Over the recent weeks the group have been assisted by a group of young volunteers from Eastcliffe in Sunderland who are part of the Barchester Healthcare Group.  Each Tuesday morning the group attend Hillside to assist with the ongoing conservation work.  This task is now incorporated into their timetable and the group will attend for aslong as the Friends require them to.  The groups extrended thanks are given to the volunteers.



On 6th November 2009 the Friends were assisted by CSV Sunderland, Gentoo and other Volunteers as part of the Make A Difference Day.  This was a national event which took place at numerous sites throughout the UK during the week commencing 2nd November 2009.  The day commenced at 10am and concluded around 3pm.  During this time large amounts of work were carried out at Hillside.

Outside of the site to the side of the newly laid pathway the weeds were removed and new shrubs planted.  The area was also chipped.


Pictured above us how the pathway looked both before and after the work on 6th November 2009.

Work also started upon the steps leading up to the memorial which is currently being restored.


Pictured above is how the slope looked prior to the work being commenced upon the steps.  The steps were not finished during the course of the day and will be completed in the near future as this is on going work.  Once completed they will make access to the memorial much easier for visitors to the site.


The path which leads to the extension was defined and chipped making access to the extension easier and also making walking alot easier.


Unfortunately the Yew trees surrounding Rector Grey's grave have over the years been damaged and subjected to graffiti.  One of them slowly became unsafe and started to lean and due to its damaged state turned brown.  On Make a Difference Day the tree was removed and once again the site became safe as the tree was no longer at risk of falling.


This was the first conservation day of 2010.  The morning was bitterly cold with a covering of snow still on the ground.  This did not deter the team and the planned conservation day went ahead.  The group were working at the far end of the extension of the site.  This is where it is believed that the workhouse grave is situated.  The group were also lead to believe that there were very few stones if any in this area.  However to the teams surprise several stones were located during the day.


Pictured above are members of the group working while the snow is still on the ground.


During the day new grave stones were discovered.  These pictures show a newly uncovered cross and also the detailed metal corner piece which will once have adorned the curb around the grave.


Part of the original railing was also discovered which fit perfectly into the newly found corner piece.


A large amount of work was undertaken during the day and the group will shortly return to the site to continue in their work.


Following the harsh winter which we have experienced the group were saddened to find that several of the older trees at Hillside had fallen because of the bad weather.  The pathway through the extension was blocked because of two fallen trees, another was laid across the top of a headstone and several others were blocking parts of the lower level.  However on 22nd February the group were assisted by Paddy Smith and his workers to help move the fallen trees and make Hillside once more accessible.


Pictured above is one of the trees blocking a pathway along the extension.  The second picture shows the clear pathway once the tree was removed.


Pictured above members of the group assisting with the removal of the fallen trees.


Pictured above left is the March stone which is located on the plateau.  Unfortunately the tree directly behind it had split and fallen over the stone.  It was soon uncovered and the damaged tree removed.  Pictured above right are three stones located on the lower level.  Again a tree had uprooted itself and covered the stones.  The stones are now back on full view with the uprooted tree removed.

The more conservation work the group carry out the more flowers which have lain dormant for many years are starting to bloom again.  Above is a cluster of snow drops found on the lower level.

Several members of the group planted daffodil bulbs towards the end of 2010 on the plateau area.  These bulbs are now starting to grow and it is hoped that a colourful show will soon be enjoyed!


The group have over the last couple of weeks held two conservation days.  They have consentrated on the left hand side of the path leading through the extension of Hillside.  Ivy has been removed to expose the standing headstones and dead branches removed to make the area more accessible.


Pictured above are some of the stones which have had ivy removed from them.


Pictured above is a view of the extension pathway which is now once again looking tidy.  Pictured above is the plateau area which is currently covered in dandelions due to the recent good weather.
 Some spring flowers at Hillside                                                     


In readiness of the Passion Play which is to take place on Good Friday (6th April 2012) the group have already began conservation work at Hillside.  The site has been removed of litter, trees pruned and dead weeds removed allowing the spring flowers to bloom. 



Pictured above are some of the Friends at work at the site.


New bark chippings have been laid along the path from the Lych gate to the plateau.


The group are pleased to announce that they are once again being assisted by Brian Watson of Springboard and also CEED both of whom have helped the group in the past with conservation work.  The work began on Tuesday 1st May when both Brian and Nathan from CEED brought along a team of volunteers.  The extension is the area being concentrated on as very little work has taken place in this area before.  This will be an ongoing project and updates will be posted on a regular basis.  A further conservation day took place on 8th May 2012 and it is hopeful that both groups can return on a weekly basis to help with work at Hillside.


Before & After - A weather damaged tree is removed


The pathway is once again accessible


The path along the extension is defined using tree logs

Further pictures can be found in the Gallery


After a long cold winter Hillside is now starting to come back to life with the first spring flowers already in bloom.  The picture below is of the daffodils lining the pathway onto the bottom level.

Pictured above is a view of the plateau taken from the Standish vault.


As Spring has come so have the daffodils that were planted at Hillside at the end of October 2010.  The trees are once again starting to come back to life and other wild flowers starting to grow. 


Pictured above are the daffodils planted late 2010


Pictured above the trees and other plants starting to come to life!


Pitured above more springime pictures


Following our recent snowfalls a visit was made to Hillside to experience the beautiful scenes and take some photographs of them.  Please find these pictures below and the group hope that our readers enjoy the scenes as much as they did.


On arrival at Hillside it was discovered that someone had actually built 2 very large snowmen.  One is pictured above.



The monument which is currently being restored looked beautiful covered in snow.


Pictured above the pathway leading to the extension and scenes of the snow resting upon George Wheatley's monument.


The sinking sun brought a splash of colour to the cliff face at Hillside.







Action Earth Day was initially scheduled to take place on 30th March 2010 however due to a horrendous weather forcast the event was postponed.  It eventually took place one month later on 27th April 2010.

The group became involved in the event once again due to the support of Brian Watson of CVS Sunderland.  It was attended by many young volunteer groups who assisted the group in general conservation and other tasks.  

A start was once again made to spruse up the site now that the winter is at an end.  The small garden at the entrance and the pathway leading up to Hillside were weeded, the pathway into Hillside was tidied up and general conservation along the pathway leading to the extension was carried out.  New bark chippings were also put down on the pathway leading into Hillside.

Another task which began as part of Action Earth Day was that of the making of the steps up to the memorial.  Pictures etc can be found in our Projects section.

During the course of the day the Friends also discovered more headstones which had been buried for many years.





The following pictures were taken of fungus growing on a tree stump at Hillside


As the Knot Weed at Hillside dies away with the coming of the winter the headstones it has hidden for several months are now coming back into view with an errie effect!!!!!!!!!!


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