A CEREMONY took place at a Prudhoe cemetery to mark 150 years since the consecration of the site.

The service, at St Mary Magdalene Cemetery, took place on Sunday, October 18 and also celebrated the refurbishment of the cemetery by a group of dedicated volunteers.

The team has transformed the once derelict and abandoned site into a pleasant green space accessible to relatives wishing to visit their family graves, as well as the wider community. The project took four years to complete.

The cemetery is the last resting place of 2,900 people - 1,500 of which were children under the age of 16.

It was first consecrated in October 1870 by the Bishop of Durham.

After an opening welcome from the vicar of Prudhoe, the Rev. Daniel Freyhan, the Bishop of Newcastle, the Right Rev. Christine Hardman, gave an address.

She thanked the volunteers for their hard work and dedication, and remarked how impressed she was with the transformation they had achieved.

On behalf of the volunteers, Eddie Graham gave a short address outlining how the group had cleared the site of weeds, brambles and piles of rubbish which had accumulated over a long period of time.

Graves had been restored and the whole area tidied up to create an orderly and tidy location for people to visit their family graves or to conduct research.

Another team member, Ray Moore, gave a talk outlining the history of the cemetery and the role it had played in the Prudhoe community.

The Bishop then gave a blessing on the cemetery, those who work in it and those who will use it and she then took the opportunity to tour the site and see at close hand some of the work which has been carried out, including the new memorial cairn, which is dedicated to all those who are interred in the cemetery but who have no marked grave.

Coun. Ken Stow, who represents Prudhoe North, praised the work of the volunteers.

He said: “It was privilege to attend the service at the cemetery conducted by Bishop Christine, the work carried out by the volunteers has been amazing, there is such a wealth of local history has been found by researchers.”

The team of volunteers, backed by Prudhoe Local History Society, was supported financially by the County Durham Community Foundation and Prudhoe Town Council.

Northumberland County Council provided a team of workers from its Groundwork department to help clear the site, while Third Regiment Royal Horse Artillery - based at Albemale barracks - and Essity provided teams of workers to help with heavier work earlier in the project.