Michael Hannah and Angela Maughan at the Landmark Hotel, Dundee

I mentioned in a previous blog that Dundee crematorium was closing for refurbishments. To be more accurate, it has closed for services – it will still continue to carry out cremations. Services will take place in the Landmark Hotel instead. At least, this is the alternative arrangement that the crematorium’s owners have put in place for the period of closure…. but people may decide to make other arrangements.

There was an “open day” today at the hotel and I went with my friend and SICA colleague, Angela Maughan. Neither of us had actually been invited or indeed informed officially about the changes …. but we heard on the grapevine, and the possibility of free coffee drew us there!

View of the function room at Landmark Hotel

Sadly, no coffee on offer! Just Martin, one of the chapel attendants whom Dundee celebrants will know, looking a bit forlorn. But he was extremely helpful and showed us the room. Both of us have held ceremonies in the room in the past so we weren’t completely unfamiliar with them. The room can hold just over 100 people but there is also an overflow room. I was slightly more concerned about the car park. Actually, they have allocated quite a big area for funerals – probably more car spaces than at the crematorium itself. Of course, it’s not easy to say what people might do if it is full. There aren’t many streets close by to park on. Also, as it’s a hotel, people may decide to hold a post-service tea there and that could complicate parking.

Lectern and position of coffin at Landmark Hotel function room

The room itself – see photos – is a bit corporate but it’s OK. Angela worked some design magic on the curtains and blinds to create a better feel! Apparently there will be Obitus, so music will work in the usual way, there will be a screen for picture tributes, and there will be a camera for live streaming. None of that was in place today but we can hope that it will be there by Thursday when the first service is held there. (And they could do with some signage to direct mourners.)

In terms of timing, they told us to keep services to the 30 minutes that was the standard at the crematorium (except of course that we sometimes get told that it’s only 20 minutes…. and some officiants seem to take as long as they want….!). There will be a bit more time though for families to get in and out.

You may be able to see a trolley in one of the photos. That is where the coffin will be placed. It can either be in situ when people enter, or brought in at the start of the ceremony. The lectern is…. basic. And very small. But we suggested having a little table to place a glass of water etc.

Committal can be either by draping the coffin in a pall cloth, or taking it out to a side room or to a hearse (this will depend on the funeral director). Of course celebrants may come up with other innovative ideas for committal rituals.

They are estimating 16 weeks for the work to be completed. But that may require a spell of dry weather (!) and for nothing to go wrong. But even by the most optimistic forecast, that means this arrangement will be in place for a long time. I think it’s highly significant that take-up seems to be slow, which suggests that people and funeral directors are already thinking differently. If that means that people get more choice – with perhaps a better experience and maybe even pay a bit less then that can be no bad thing.

Michael Hannah, Broughty Ferry, 1 July 2024

Dundee Crematorium Refurbishment – update

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