Church graves may be exhumed

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Graves may have to be dug up at a Tarbolton church as part of efforts to repair a Grade 2 listed cemetery wall.

South Ayrshire Council has contacted relatives whose families are buried in lairs to warn them about the possible exhumations. A council spokesman said: “There is a possibility that exhumations may be necessary but we are hopeful this can be avoided by careful engineering works. We have been in contact, where possible, with all relatives connected to the lairs along the front wall, and families are aware of the works involved.”

Two copper beech trees beside listed cemetery wall have been chopped down as work got underway.

Workers have hacked down two trees, which shaded the ancient cemetery for more than 100 years.

Resident Joe Dalling said: “Most people are shocked to see this happen. The trees are acknowledged as magnificent specimens. They were planted as saplings in 1877. They are 100 per cent healthy but in the way. There has been a church on the site for 1,000 years.”

Mr Dalling said it is likely the roots stretch far under the ground.

He wanted the council to find another way to deal with the wall maintenance. 

The project manager at the Tarbolton Tenants and Residents Association said: “I don’t feel it is necessary. At Ayr cemetery they buttressed the wall to avoid this kind of thing.”

But the council said losing the trees was unavoidable.

The spokesman said: “We are always keen to protect the environment and trees are only removed if it’s really necessary. Discussions took place with the local community prior to the trees being removed.  At a public meeting in Tarbolton we highlighted the engineer’s report which said that the cemetery wall was unstable. We also explained that we investigated all possible options but in the end both trees would have to be removed as one was leaning against the wall and the other would need to have its roots cut away so we could reinforce the banking. We are currently in discussion with the local community about replacement trees.”