Distraught mourners have accused travellers of being ‘disrespectful’ and telling them to ‘f*** off’ after they set up camp outside a crematorium used as a location for Coronation Street funerals.
Four caravans, four vans, dumped washing machines, fridges and rubbish were strewn across Howe Bridge Crematorium’s car park in Atherton after the travellers arrived on Tuesday night.
Gail Hill, 44, was left devastated when she and her family had to drive past the rubbish in the car park during her mother Linda’s funeral on Wednesday after she died from bile duct cancer.
Family members were unable to park near the crematorium and were instead forced to leave their cars on the grass.
Travellers pitched camp in Howe Bridge crematorium car park leaving mourners devastated
Travellers caused uproar by leaving caravans in the Wigan Council owned car park next to the crematorium
Ms Hill, an NHS worker, said: ‘It’s absolutely disgusting. It’s so disrespectful.
‘On what was one of the worst days of my life we had to drive past them and their washing machines and fridges which is not what you want to see.
‘Of all the places they chose to pitch up they had to appear at the entrance to a crematorium…it’s outrageous.’
She said that travellers pitched in the car park in prior to her mother’s funeral had caused the family undue extra stress.
The mother-of-one said: ‘The first thing I thought was “I hope they don’t ruin my mum’s day”. I didn’t want anybody who hadn’t been invited to come across and start looking at the flowers.
‘Before we arrived we all came together as a family and decided whatever happened we weren’t going to let it spoil our day.
‘It’s absolutely ludicrous that they parked there. We just ignored them as they sat there watching the hearse go past.
‘Thankfully the funeral went really well…but it was always in the back of your mind that they were there.’
People visiting graves of loved ones claimed they were told to ‘f*** off’ by travellers at the car park
Jonathan Coombes visited the site concerned about his mother Cindy’s grave at the adjoining cemetery.
He pleaded with the group of 12 travellers to move on out of respect but claims he was told ‘we won’t wake them up…now f*** off.’
Mr Coombes, 45, an apprenticeships tutor from Atherton, said: ‘I think they’ve crossed a line by setting up here…it’s supposed to be a place where people go to pay their respects.
‘My mum’s laid to rest here so I decided to go down ask them nicely to leave because I was upset by it.
‘Even if my mum wasn’t in there, it’s about paying respects to people.
‘I didn’t raise my voice or swear I just asked them to leave for the sake of people wanting to visit their loved ones.
‘They said “we’ll make sure we won’t wake them all up” and then swore at me. It’s no surprise people are fed up with them.
‘I tried to appeal to them and said “you wouldn’t like it if we camped up on your parents’ graveyard – you would go mad – just show a bit of respect”‘.
He added: ‘When I was down there I saw them throwing general waste into the bushes including used nappies. ‘It’s a gorgeous cemetery and really well kept and I worry about the mess they will leave behind.’
Denise Knowles added: ‘I have heartfelt feelings for those who are going to the crematorium with their loved ones tomorrow. An awful day for them without seeing that lot.’
Arrivals on land near Howe Bridge Crematorium were accused of being ‘disrespectful’ after setting up camp outside
The crematorium has been used in Coronation Street, such as for Hayley Cropper’s funeral on the soap in 2014.
A spokesman for the crematorium told MailOnline the travellers had all now been moved on from the Wigan Council owned car park.
Director of economy and environment at Wigan Council Karl Battersby said: ‘We will be cleaning up the site as quickly as possible and will be installing a barrier to protect the cemetery in future for our residents.
‘We are disappointed this location has been targeted which is insensitive to grieving families and relatives.
‘Protecting our land and green spaces is a top priority for us.’
Leigh MP Jo Platt said: ‘It shows a real lack of sensitivity and respect for this current group of travellers to make a camp at Howe Bridge crematorium.
‘People should be able to grieve and reflect on lost loved ones without the distraction of families camped on the car park.’
A Westerleigh spokesman said: ‘We are aware that they have pitched their vehicles in the car park which is council owned.
‘We think it’s regrettable and we don’t think it shows respect to grieving families.
‘It’s not directly affecting the services but it is supposed to be a tranquil place where people can grieve in peace and cremate their loved ones.’