WHAT do Stan Laurel’s mother, a couple of Old Firm greats and artist Hannah Frank have in common?

They all share a final resting place - Cathcart Cemetery, on Glasgow’s south side.

Cathcart Cemetery opened officially in 1878, during the height of the ‘garden cemetery’ movement. Its wooded and semi-rural setting just beyond the city boundaries was typical of this new type of burial ground, created in response to the over-populated city cemeteries and growing sanitation concerns caused by outbreaks of disease such as cholera. The new ‘garden’ cemeteries had carefully laid out grounds and strict rules governing the specifications and design of burial plots.

Glasgow Times: Map of the cemetery, c 1895. Pic Glasgow City Archives

The famous Paris cemetery Pere Lachaise inspired the idea of cemeteries as attraction grounds. Death and mourning were fashionable in the Victorian age. Garden cemeteries were intended as spaces to visit, to take the outdoor air while admiring ornate and picturesque tombs.

The trend for large decorative memorials could not be catered for easily within smaller burial grounds such as that of ‘Old’ Cathcart Churchyard at Carmmunock Road, which the new cemetery replaced. Members of the Cathcart Parish Board set up The Cathcart Cemetery Company and purchased lands from Bogton Estate (the same estate’s lands also make up part of today’s Linn Park). The site was close to the city, but mainly agricultural. William McKelvie, a former Superintendent of Cemeteries and Parks at Greenock who had also worked at the Glasgow Necropolis, was employed to plan the new grounds. Today there are around 15,000 graves on the 43 acre site.

Glasgow Times: Postcard of Hood's Mauseoleum. Pic: Glasgow City Archives

One of the most striking memorials is the Egyptian style William and Mary Hood Mausoleum, constructed in 1900 by monumental sculptors Scott & Rae out of red polished granite. Said to be inspired by the Philar Temple of Hathor, with its grand pillars and gates, it once included statute of Anubis the Jackal (the Egyptian lord of the dead). William Hood was a successful butcher, and later a Justice of the Peace, who according to his obituary also enjoyed travel throughout Europe and Africa. The Scott & Rae’s estimate for the mausoleum in our archives records a cost of £1311 and 11 shillings - a considerable sum at the time.

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Notable burials include Margaret Metcalfe Jefferson, the mother of Stan Laurel, Gaelic opera singer Jessie MacLachlan, Celtic manager Willie Maley and Rangers manager William Wilton.

Cathcart Cemetery’s grounds are still lovely to visit today, even though the residential area has grown around it. It still maintains leafy surroundings, bordered by Linn Park and the White Cart Water, a place to pause and reflect on the past as was originally intended.