Could your relative be buried in Rustington’s forgotten cemetery?

Relatives have been reunited with loved ones as part of the restoration
Relatives have been reunited with loved ones as part of the restoration

It is the final chance for people to find out if their relatives are buried in a long-forgotten cemetery as the restoration project enters its next phase.

Sandwiched between Wolstenbury Road and the Brookside Industrial Estate, the Brookside Cemetery laid derelict for decades until the 1980s, when Rustington historian Mary Taylor and more recently Sue Sula made it their mission to restore the site to its former glory.

The bodies of 57 people are buried there – click here for the full list – and many graves have been uncovered in the last two years as the pair have cleared away rubbish and dug up weeds to turn the site into a memorial garden.

After delving into the histories of those buried at the site using parish registers, Mary and Sue released a list of their names in May last year. Several relatives came forward and were reunited with their loved ones.

The conveyancer of Mallon Dene, Rustington, formed a group to turn the cemetery into a memorial garden.

This was to honour the original agreement between the church and developers of the area nearly 40 years ago before the deconsecrated graveyard was bulldozed.

Sue said she hoped to hold an event in September or October for relatives to see what has been uncovered and to explain their plans for the garden to the families before the graves were covered up.

She said: “It is probably the last chance now of putting out a final appeal for relatives of those buried on the site or people who might have any information about the graveyard before we finish off the historical side.

“This is a very important stage – our last attempt to bring closure for those families – and I want a big shout out for them to come forward before it is too late. I want to hear their stories.”

One such happy reunion was for twins Mary Murkin and Ann Elliott, pictured right, who visited the grandmother they never met. Click here to read more.

Mary Anne Luxford passed away aged 72 in 1932, shortly before her granddaughters’ births.

Speaking at the time, Mary, a great-grandmother from Whiteways Close in Wick, said: “I am absolutely thrilled because I heard way back that the graves had been dug up and moved.”

Contact Sue on the Rustington Past and Present Facebook page for details.