A LETTER from America led a Pole Moor man to embark on an ambitious local history project.
Robert Broadbent aims to create a definitive record of all the burials at Pole Moor Chapel, stretching back hundreds of years.
He will match this to a graveyard plan to help people trying to trace ancestors buried at the chapel.
Helped by his father Trevor, mum Joan and partner Sarah, he has already completed a survey of the chapel yard, photographing and cataloguing 500 headstones over three days.
Robert’s project was prompted by a package he received in September from his father’s cousin, John Broadbent, who now lives in America.
He had been born at Launds, where Robert now lives, in 1923 and had inherited the parish records.
Robert said: “At the end of the letter, John Broadbent said the register and plan were now passed on to me from himself and back in the rightful ownership of a Broadbent on local ground.”
John Broadbent’s father – also called John – was the older brother of Robert’s grandfather Eric and had moved away from Pole Moor in the early 1930s, before joining the Army in 1941 and leaving England.
The letter Robert received revealed that Broadbents had been gravediggers for generations at the Pole Moor Chapel, which opened in 1790.
The last was Eric Broadbent, who worked there until 1914.
The records showed burials from 1783 to March 1836, giving names, addresses, ages, plot numbers, and dimensions of graves and vaults.
Also in the book were loose family letters and Pole Moor Chapel documents.
Robert said: “I had an idea that many people would still have family in the graveyard, perhaps people locally or even from abroad.
“Over the next year, I will be able to compare results from the new survey with the old graveyard plan and register from 1783 to 1836, the burial records from the Huddersfield library from 1836 to the 1880s and hopefully create a new location plan of headstones and a new register of family inscriptions.
“It could help people researching family history and is a way of putting something back into the community.”
Robert plans to display the finished records and plan next year at the Launds Inn Museum, which he opened last year at his 14th century home on Rochdale Road.
The former Launds Inn has been home to 20 generations of Broadbents.
Robert, a telecoms worker and building contractor, bought the house in 1998 and researched its history, discovering his family had roots at Pole Moor dating back 1,000 years.
He spent five years restoring the building with original materials.
For more, visit www.laundsinnmuseum.co.uk