Tributes to thousands who died penny-less

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A POIGNANT memorial to the thousands of St Helens children buried in paupers graves has been unveiled.

The monument was commissioned after a campaign by the Friends of St Helens Cemetery.

Their research unearthed document showing more than 12,000 of the children laid to rest at the town’s main cemetery were buried in paupers graves.

The memorial, which was officially unveiled by St Helens mayor Geoff Almond, was paid for by donations from the public and will provide a focal point for floral tributes.

Marlene Downey, from the Friends of St Helens Cemetery, said: “Visitors to the cemetery will be familiar with the large grassed areas in the cemetery, but probably unaware that more than 65,000 people are buried in pauper graves on these sites.

“The large number of people buried in pauper graves over the years emphasises the financial hardship that many families had to endure – with their choice of burial sites decided by what they could afford.

“Now though we have some beautiful headstones to mark the sites – where people can lay flowers and remember their loved ones.”

The first pauper burials took place at the cemetery in 1858, costing just four shillings and sixpence.

The Friends of St Helens Cemetery will be holding a free family history event on Saturday 6 April at the crematorium – from 10am to 3pm.