Topic: Locating an Ancestor in Linwood Cemetery

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Helpful hints for those wanting to find an ancestor in the complex, irregular layout of Linwood Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ.

Please note - Linwood Cemetery has a complex layout

Plots are labelled and referred to by the Block (abbreviated as B) then the Plot (abbreviated as P) and then the person's family name e.g.  B10P21 SMITH

The Block numbering starts from the Hay Street (South) side with Block 1 and ends in the North West Bromley Park border (and car park) with Block 48.  Blocks closest to the Butterfield Ave car park are the Quarter-Block A and Block 36A.

Within each Block is a number of Plots usually laid out in rows.  Occasionally Blocks have been extended more creatively by adding

  • an 'a' row on front of the Block  (as with Blocks 5, 7, 9, 11) and which in Block 7 replaces row 1-9 in Block 8;
  • an 'a' row at the end of a Block (as with Block 40),
  • an 'a' row going vertically when the rest of the Block goes horizontally (as in Blocks 16A, 15),
  • a vertical row or rows continuing the Block's numbering (as in Blocks 28,46),
  • a random 'a, b or c' at the end of a row (as in Blocks 33, 34).
And, to add to the fun, the Blocks are laid out in 3 distinctly different patterns, possibly due to the changeover of sextons on site at the time of planning the Block (this idea needs to be researched further).
Blocks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13
Plots are laid out in a 'zig-zag' way with the next row starting at the original end:
1     2     3     4     5
6    7     8     9     10
11   12   13   14   15
16  17   18   19   20
Blocks 23a, 32, 33 and part of Block 34
Plots are laid out in a '2-up' way:
20  22  24  26   28
11   13   15   17   19
2     4      6     8     10
1     3      5     7      9
Most other Blocks
Have Plots numbered like this:
5    4    3    2   1
6    7    8    9   10
15 14  13  12   11
16 17  18  19   20
Block 11
has its own unique numbering because of the original position of the kiosk:
18   17   16   15   14 13   12   11
19   20   21   22   23 10    9     8
28   27   26   25   24 7    6     5    4    3    2    1
7a  6a  5a  4a  3a  2a  1a
Block 15
The Block is laid out like Block 16a, etc except Plots 76-125; three rows which are laid out like Blocks 1-13 as well as 'a' plots at the end of the first 7 rows.
Block 34
This Block is split into two 'halves'.  P1-P67  and P105-P306, laid out in the 'most other Blocks' way and joined across the bottom with a single row P68-P104.  (This is currently being re-checked against the plots as there are a significant number of anomalies.)
The First Plot in a Block
Most Blocks start with the first Plot on the bottom right corner of the Block, except the following:
Blocks 2, 4, 6, 8 (starts at Plot 9), 10 (starts at Plot 10), 12 (starts at Plot 8), 14, 16a, 16, 19, 23, 30, 39, 45,  Quarter-plots A start in the top right hand corner,
Block 34, 36a, 43, 44, 46, 47, 48 start in the top left hand corner (Block 34 has the left side starting with P1 but is five rows 'higher' on the other side of the Block.)
Blocks 23a, 33 start in the bottom left.

As well as 'lost paths' between some Blocks, finding the location of a plot in this large, complex cemetery can be quite a challenge, yet one we are happy to help with.

 Block Marker In 2009, following  a request in 2006 from the Friends of Linwood Cemetery and funding of $30,000 from the Hagley-Ferrymead Community Board, Block Markers were put into the ground to help people locate plots.  These markers are generally at the ends of every other row and where one Block changes to another Block. During February and March 2014 one of our volunteers went through the Block Markers and checked their location, moving any in the wrong place to their correct location.   Several were still blank, many where missing and a further significant number needed the Block number adding for clarity.  This information has been forwarded to the City Council without response, so the Friends have stencilled the missing information on the Block Markers to help people locate their ancestors in the meantime.

linwood-d-resizedThere are four 'heritage' boards funded by the City Council at the Butterfield Avenue car park and around the cemetery to help guide you to the different Blocks and to the graves of some people of historical interest.  More information about these people can be found in Richard Greenaway's Linwood Cemetery Tour Guide on the CCC Library website.  These boards show the plot number at each end of a row for each block in the area the board covers.  As with anything man-made there are some design errors on the numbering of the rows on the boards, but generally they are a good guide.  Please don't hesitate to contact if you need help locating a plot.

Other numerical systems are quoted on any research when known, e.g. New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG) which used a numerical system based on headstones existing in 1979 and divided the cemetery into Areas and Rows, starting at the Bromley Park end of the cemetery.

© Friends of Linwood Cemetery Charitable Trust

Updated 6th September 2018 by Alexandra

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Locating an Ancestor in Linwood Cemetery