Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Preston Crematorium 2

Inside the Crematory

The staff at Preston Crematorium were just as helpful as those at Preston Cemetery where there was a similar open day recently. I arrived at a quiet moment and had the great luck to be given a personal guided tour of the Crematory.

The colourful coffin on the stand would, at the end of the service, pass through from the Chapel into the Crematory. I think we are all probably familiar with coffin passing through and the curtains drawing closed behind it. Evidently, these days, an increasing number of families ask for the curtains to remain open.

On the other side of the curtain, the coffin is moved onto the stand (below) which is turned to face the cremator itself.

It is a relatively simple task, then, to slide the coffin into the cremator - seen here with the hatch closed. This is the recently installed extra large sized cremator which is required as the national tendency is for many more people to be larger than life, so to speak, which requires coffins that would not fit in the standard cremator.

The cremator below is the standard size and it is quite interesting to peer inside to see the construction of the interior which produces a heat of at least 800 degrees up to 1,200 degrees.

Here is the operating buttons that control the cremators.

On the other side of the cremator is another hatch inside of which is a rectangular hole into which the remains are drawn. These fall down into a metal container, the handle of which can be seen below. The circle in the hatch surround the observation viewer. The operator can look through it to monitor progress during the cremation progress. It normally takes about 90 minutes to complete the process, but it can take much longer, depending on the size of the contents. The operators must wait quite some time for the cremator interior to cool down before the ashes etc. can be dragged to the container.

Here the rear hatch is open and you can see the front hatch is open at the other end.

The next step in the process is for the indestructible items to be removed before the ashes and the fragments of bone to be placed in the cremulator. [Most people imagine that there is nothing but ash remaining but some pieces of bone remain intact, albeit burned.] Inside the cremulator, which look not dissimilar to the opening of a front loading washing machine, are five heavy iron balls, slighter smaller than a tennis ball. [I did not photograph the cremulator] As the remains are spun round at high speed, the balls reduce the remains to a coarse ash residue. This is then ready for ultimate transfer to urns.

Above is the new urn used to scatter the ashes in the memorial and remembrance areas in the crematorium's extensive and well-maintained grounds. The t-shaped handle is turned to allow a steady flow of ashes rather than have an instantaneous discharge of ash. The urn below is the original one used from when the crematorium opened some fifty years ago.

Now, it might surprise people to know that there can be large amounts of metal work left behind after a cremation and this is sorted into recycling bins and processed by a recycling company. Any money generated from this is given to charity.

During the deceased's life times, hip and knee replacements may have been carried out or someone may have broken a limb which required pinning. As a result, there is an increasing amount of 'metal work' left over. In the lower centre on the photo (below), you can see a ball like object with a slightly curved metal spike coming from it. This is part of an artificial hip.

All the material in the two photographs (below) is mostly from coffin pins and metal clips etc. used in the construction of coffins and their interior upholstery. It is common to find coins - as can be seen in the second photograph. I am told that the impact of the extreme heat on the coins makes them thinner.

Here is a mystery item that was found and thought to have been an early coin. I was able to identify it as some sort of commemorative medallion. The reverse bears the words 'For Crown and Country', while the obverse bears a representation of Britannia.

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