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Our Ashes Glow with Social Fires’: The Heroic Age of Scottish Crematoria 1955 -1975

Grainger, Hilary J and Jupp, Peter C (2015) Our Ashes Glow with Social Fires’: The Heroic Age of Scottish Crematoria 1955 -1975. In: 12th International Death, Dying and Disposal Conference (DDD12), 2nd - 5th September 2015, Alba Iulia Romania.

Type of Research: Conference, Symposium or Workshop Item
Creators: Grainger, Hilary J and Jupp, Peter C

Of the many differences in death ways between Scotland and England, the most persistence of burial and the low take-up of cremation is one of the most illuminating when analysing the development of modernity in the North. This lecture is based on research for our book ‘Cremation in Modern Scotland, History, Architecture and Law’ to be published early next year.

Scotland’s first crematorium (and the UK’s third) was opened in Maryhill, Glasgow in 1883. However, its first publicly commissioned crematorium at Daldowie, Lanarkshire, was not opened until 1955 when Scotland’s cremation rate had reached 18%. Crematorium building and patronage in Scotland fell into three distinct phases, the first between 1895 and 1939 where the six crematoria opened were all privately owned. In keeping with the governing agenda of ‘Improvement’, which prompted the harnassing of ‘material betterment to secular utopian ideals’, the second phase between 1955 and 1975 witnessed the ‘heroic age’ of local authority building. Scotland built 11 crematoria, Daldowie, 1955; Craigton, 1957; Greenock, 1959; Kirkcaldy, 1959; Cardross, 1960; Falkirk, 1962; Perth, 1962; The Linn, Glasgow, 1962; Ayr, 1966; Clydebank, 1967; Edinburgh, Mortonhall, 1967; Dunfermline, 1973 and Aberdeen, Hazelhead, 1975, only one of which, Craigton, was private.

This lecture will first analyse the decision-making processes and the cultural and economic changes that had at first delayed and then encouraged the rapid shift to cremation. The most obvious of these were the political and governmental priorities, housing policies and health improvements and above all, the Vatican’s 1964 decision to lift the ban on cremation imposed in 1886. After 1975 no more crematoria were built until 1993, by which time the Scottish cremation rate had slowed to 57%.

Scotland’s crematoria tell us a great deal not only about the complex, changing and distinctive nature of Scottish attitudes to death and disposal between 1955 and 1975, but also reflect in microcosm, the progress of architectural thinking in period when the relationship between Traditionalism and Modernism and the continued search for a ‘Scottish architecture’ occupied many architects. The lecture will consider the singular contribution made by Scotland to the architectural expression of cremation during its ‘heroic age’ of building.

Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: 2 September 2015
Event Location: Alba Iulia Romania
Date Deposited: 22 May 2018 09:25
Last Modified: 24 May 2018 13:27
Item ID: 12711
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/12711

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