Burnley Cemetery, at 59 acres, is the largest of the Burnley district's cemeteries and is owned and managed by Burnley Borough Council.

In the first half of the nineteenth century the population of Burnley grew very rapidly, causing many problems and by the early 1850s most burial grounds in the town were full.  In 1854 the Third Burnley Improvement Act made provision for a cemetery to be paid for from the rates. The site chosen was at Riley’s farm, near Rosegrove, where 18 acres of land were bought.


Thomas Worthington, a young Manchester architect, Cemetery Lodge and entrance arch 1901was appointed  to carry out work on the site and design three chapels, a lodge and entrance gates.  The cemetery was opened on the 1st June 1856 and the first burial, that of Mrs. Mary Nixon, took place on the 4th of that month



The lodge and entrance arch about 1901
From "In Loving Memory - A History of Burnley Cemetery" by Molly Haines


Burnley Cemetery Layout 1856


The cemetery was unusual in having three chapels as most had only two; one for Anglicans, in consecrated ground, and one for Dissenters, but in Burnley the Roman Catholics also had their own chapel.  The cemetery was laid out in a tasteful manner, with serpentine paths, and was described as ‘a sweet and secluded spot’.   The original entrance to the cemetery was at the bottom of Cemetery Lane. 



The original cemetery layout about 1856
From "In Loving Memory - A History of Burnley Cemetery" by Molly Haines


Burnley Cemetery as it is nowThe original 18 acres of land proved insufficient for the needs of a growing town and more land was bought at intervals until, by the early 1920s, the site had increased to 59 acres and reached as far as Rossendale  Road. In the newer part of the cemetery the paths are straight and angular. By then a number of changes had taken place in the cemetery.  New entrance gates were  built on Rossendale Road and a new chapel, for all denominations except the Catholics, was opened. The Cross of Sacrifice and War Memorial were erected facing the new entrance. The original entrance arch was moved further up Cemetery Lane, away from the Lodge, to accommodate a new road within the cemetery. The Dissenters chapel was demolished in 1924, when the site was immediately used for burials. The other chapels were demolished later, in the 1960s and 70s and the Baby Remembrance Garden now occupies the site of the Catholic chapel.  In recent years parts of the cemetery have been set aside as Muslim burial plots for use by the Asian Community.



The Crematorium was first considered in 1938 but was not built until 1958.  It is of a modern design, with a strong classical simplicity. It sits in its own landscaped grounds with the main entrance separate from the Cemetery on Accrington Road but with access to the cemetery.