Oakworth Crematorium

Bradford Council

A contemplative refurbishment designed for dignity

Our refurbishment of Oakworth Crematorium turns a dated Victorian chapel into a calm, contemplative space for mourners to pay their last respects. 

After undergoing piecemeal extension over its lifetime, the original cemetery chapel had become a mismatch of dated spaces, no longer fit for purpose. 

Creating a sense of calm

The project’s biggest impact comes from our alteration of the original chapel. Magnificent new timber doors to the entrance lobby now open to reveal the catafalque in the centre of the room—no longer squeezed into the corner—making the deceased the focus of the ceremony. 

To make the chapel feel more intimate and dignified, we moved the toilets and rotated the seating. This alteration also increases its capacity, while allowing natural light to flood in from both sides of the room.

Another innovation is our treatment of the committal room as a front-of-house space. Naturally lit and lined with high quality materials, what is often an industrial-feeling room is now welcoming and sympathetic. 

Facilitating the smooth flow of services

A new through-route allows funeral parties to exit the chapel via a glazed winter garden, through to an open-air tribute area with a covered floral display plinth. Mourners now have a peaceful area to gather after the service, even in poor weather, away from those arriving for the next service.

By re-configuring the grounds, we created separation between the cortege and other vehicles, which are ushered to an enlarged car park adjacent to the entrance and floral tribute garden. After the service, mourners find themselves back at their car, where they can exit via the new gates.

Innovation and upgraded technology

Technology is critical to modern funerals, so that’s also been upgraded. New digital screens allow full-length portrait photos of the deceased, while a new audio system brings clarity to the celebrant. Crucially, the AV system allows for online broadcasting, so anybody who’s not able to be there on the day can still feel part of the service. 

A quieter, more environmentally-friendly cremator is positioned further from the main chapel, so no longer interrupts the services. 

Within the exit winter garden, folding timber screens give families the option to view the committal room and control the committal process. This is a key part of Hindu and Sikh funeral tradition, but is often dealt with awkwardly in other UK crematoria. 

Designed for dignity

Oakworth’s refurbishment brings a sense of calm to the intense moments of saying goodbye to someone. The project puts the user experience at the forefront, while allowing Bradford Council to meet the growing demand for cremation services, and the evolution of our funerary traditions.

Oakworth Crematorium is one of three crematoriums we are delivering for Bradford Council as part of their bereavement services strategy.

Photography © Tom Bright