first half of the nineteenth century saw cholera epidemics
which brought about scenes of horror in many graveyards with
heaps of bones and partially rotted bodies being dug up to
make way for even more burials.
Diseases such as smallpox, typhus, scarlet fever and even
malaria were prevalent in the Bradford area and there were
cholera epidemics in 1832, 1849, 1853, 1854 and 1856.
was Bradford known as a clean town. James Smith In his report
for the Health Of Towns Commission in 1844 concluded "...of
Bradford I am obliged to pronounce it the most filthy town
I visited." Central Bradford in the 1840's is described
as having "courts, yards and dingy alleys with overflowing
privies, open cesspits, pig styes and slaughterhouses and
effluent laden watercourses".
there were others who thought other things equally to blame.
In 1849 Titus Salt, then Mayor of Bradford, commissioned a
Report into the Moral Condition of Bradford which concluded
that alcoholism and venereal disease ranked along side tuberculosis
as the three major evils, to an extent even greater than smallpox.
1854, the year that Undercliffe Cemetery opened, a Report
To The General Board Of Health included an account of the
condition of the graveyards in the township of Thornton. John
Ingham, Sexton of Thornton Church, described the overcrowding
in his graveyard: "I have taken as many as five skulls
out of a grave only four feet deep......we have taken out
eight coffins to put in a ninth... we are compelled to take
out coffins to obtain depth
many [coffins] would not
be eight inches [deep]."
joint stock companies who built and maintained private graveyards,
such as Undercliffe, undoubtedly went some way to alleviating
the problem but the ultimate answer would be the establishment
of public cemeteries. But that's another story