Pair find restoration work a bier neccessity

PUBLISHED: 13:58 29 June 2006 | UPDATED: 14:44 12 May 2010

Carpenter Tom Bescoby and parish councillor and former Bassingbourn village undertaker Bob Clarke with the bier. 
Picture: DANIEL WILSON 1778DW05

Carpenter Tom Bescoby and parish councillor and former Bassingbourn village undertaker Bob Clarke with the bier. Picture: DANIEL WILSON 1778DW05

A CHURCH bier believed to have come from the 19th century has been restored due to the work of two parish councillors and a retired carpenter. The bier is an immobilised frame that was once used to carry coffins to graves at Bassingbourn cemetery. Bassing

A CHURCH bier believed to have come from the 19th century has been restored due to the work of two parish councillors and a retired carpenter.

The bier is an immobilised frame that was once used to carry coffins to graves at Bassingbourn cemetery.

Bassingbourn parish councillors Bob Clarke and Alan Charter decided to restore the bier after it was discovered in the cemetery chapel hidden under dust and cobwebs.

Bob, 75, said: "My father and grandfather were both local undertakers so this is of particular interest to me.

"I remember my father talking about the bier and he remembered when it was used in the village. The bier is part of the church's heritage so we thought it would be nice to restore it."

Former village carpenter and coffin maker Tom Bescoby was the man responsible for the restoration, dismantling the bier and washing and cleaning every inch. He even made new slats and handles.

Tom, 81, said: "We thought it would be a good idea to preserve the bier. It was in a bad state because it hadn't been touched in years.

"In total, it took me 18 hours to restore. Before we worked on it, it was very distressing to look at. However, once we had finished it looked as good as new."

Question marks remain over the exact date of when the original bier was in use and both Bob and Tom think that it probably dates back to the 19th century and has certainly not been used since before the Second World War.

"It's been out of action for a long time. Since the use of motor hearses, there hasn't really been a need for biers," said Bob, who was also a former village undertaker.

"Nobody knows too much about it, all we know is that it was used in the church a long time ago."

Bob's father, Robert Clarke, has a memorial plaque in his memory at the cemetery's chapel, after he worked at the cemetery for a number of years.

If anyone knows any information regarding the original Bassingbourn bier call The Crow on 01763 245241.


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