It wasn’t supposed to be like this. January 2011 and I’d gone for a walk to blow the tiredness of Christmas and New Year away. I was standing in Crewe Cemetery by the grave of my great-grandfather, William Taylor, looking across at the gravestone of his own father. Except, I couldn’t see it. Then, with growing despair, I did see it – snapped off at the base and face down.
Making enquiries afterwards, I found that the gravestone had been a victim of the high winds at the end of 2010. Somehow, thanks to the thin sandstone of the slab, it hadn’t been just branches of trees, but my great-great grandfather’s memorial that had come down.
Thomas Taylor (baptised 6 March 1831, Penwortham, Lancs.) had been the person to set my Taylor on their long connection with the railways. He’d died on 5 December 1873 as a result of burns sustained in a railway accident on 21 November when his loco ran into the back of a stationary goods train. Somehow, a family with seven children, only one or two old enough to work, put together enough money to buy a gravestone for him. Maybe Thomas’ own father, a retired farmer, helped out. However it was financed, gravestones in my working class families are rare enough for me to feel its loss and I swiftly decided that Thomas would have his memorial back.
It didn’t take long to get a professional’s verdict that the original stone was beyond repair, so I had to arrange for a modern replacement. Well, if not me, then who? That, of course, needed some bureaucratic arrangements. In order to gain authority over the grave, I had to purchase the right of burial for the plot. A bit more than what I wanted, and I don’t imagine me making use of the burial part, but the essential step.
The replacement stone carries nearly the same inscription as the original, but not quite. “Thomas Taylor of Crewe” became “Thomas Taylor Engine Driver of Crewe”, in commemoration of the link to the railway industry, while I also provided a clue for anyone coming after me by adding “Replaced by Adrian Bruce 2011” on the base. Partly to explain why the modern stone records someone dying in 1873 and partly because, well, I did do it. And we found a design for a red rose to go on the stone. Not the proper heraldic form for Lancashire, but near enough.
So, should you have an interest in the Taylors of Penwortham and Crewe, then rest assured. Thomas has his memorial again.
This was the inscription on the original stone:
who departed this life December 5th 1873
aged 43 years
Be ye also ready for in such an hour as ye think not
the Son of Man cometh
Also Mary, his wife
who died March 14th 1904
aged 75 years
Her end was peace
Also Jane daughter of the above
who died April 24th 1931
aged 66 years