Cremation was declared as legal in England and Wales when, in 1884, Dr William Price was unsuccessfully prosecuted for cremating his infant son. In 1885 the first official cremation took place at Woking. In 1892 a crematorium opened in Manchester, followed by Glasgow in 1895 and Liverpool in 1896. Formal legislation followed later with the passing of the Cremation Act of 1902 which imposed procedural requirements for cremation and restricted the practice to authorised places.
Lawnswood crematorium which was designed by W S Braithwaite, blends well with George Corson’s Grade II listed Gothic Revival style chapels. It was opened in 1905 at a cost of £3000 and was the first in Britain to use a gas cremator. This was initially supervised by French engineers who had evolved the method.
The first cremation, that of John Dunbar Steen of Guiseley, took place on 4th January 1905.
The crematorium is still very much in use today and the chimney, cunningly disguised as a clock tower, underwent extensive repairs in 2010.
The electric clock with four dials was presented in memory of Arthur Ernest Cullingworth (1885-1950) by his widow Nora in 1951. It was re-commissioned by Potts of Leeds in October 1997.