Grave concern for Picton Cemetery project

Vital restoration work in Picton cemetery has been hit by a series of setbacks, delaying repair work.

Preserving part of the region’s heritage for future generations is taking Marlborough District Council longer than initially hoped.

Almost three years after work began on the hillside cemetery in Gravesend Place, more is still to be done.

The steep terrain and clay-like soil has hampered work which is expected to be completed around 2021.

Restoration work is underway at Picton Cemetery. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Tracking down relatives and descendants has also proven tricky.

A council spokeswoman says the council places a high priority on ensuring protection and conservation of the region’s historic sites.

“Our staff and our contractors are very respectful of the work being done.

“There has been a lot of effort by council in making contact with the descendants and in cases where this is not possible, we have placed advertisements in newspapers for a wider response,” she says.

The $100,000 Marlborough District Council initiative will see some of the region’s oldest graves restored and protected.

The Gravesend Place cemetery dates to 1890 and includes headstones marking the burial site of some of Marlborough’s early European settlers.

But the passing century had taken its toll with crumbling stone work and leaning grave stones posing a safety threat.

Some of the older memorials have seen better days. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Twisted tree roots, precarious foundations and unstable memorials posed a threat to visitors.

“There is a variety of work involved ranging from repairing ground erosion, broken concrete and stone headstones, and dealing with tree roots.

“The project poses several challenges including topography with the cemetery being placed on a hillside and the soil type being of a very clay nature.

“The project is ongoing and is on budget,” the spokeswoman says.

Other cemeteries will also be reviewed with possible restoration work being undertaken in both Omaka and Havelock.

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