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Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Latest health advice and information on service disruptions.
Birtley crematorium temporary closure
Birtley Crematorium will close for six months from 16 March 2020 while equipment is upgraded. The cremator, which has been operation for more than 30 years, will be replaced and major works will also be carried out in the chapel. From 16 March, all cremations in Gateshead will take place at Saltwell Crematorium. Burials at Birtley Cemetery will still be carried out during the works, however, they will be arranged around times when noisy building work is being carried out.


With regards to the current Coronavirus situation we have implemented the following changes:

  • Service times are available from 9.45am to 3.15pm, Monday to Friday. 
  • The book of remembrance room will still remain closed and to keep to deadlines we will be processing book of remembrance entries.
  • Cleaning is carried out in the Chapel at Saltwell Crematorium between each service. To ensure the safety of visitors and staff, we politely ask that anyone attending a service to leave promptly afterwards to ensure we have enough time to carry out cleaning.
  • Hand washing facilities are available on site.
  • The book of remembrance room is currently closed but the book can be viewed online from home.
  • To comply with social distancing guidance, we have reduced the number of mourners attending a service to a maximum of 15. These should only be:
    • members of the person's household
    • close family members
    • if neither of the above can attend then close friends may
    • the attendance of a celebrant of choice, should the bereaved request this
    • families should not gather outside the chapel before and after services

We now offer a webcasting service at Saltwell Crematorium. Funeral Directors must book this by 12 noon, 4 working days before the service. Bookings must be made directly to the Bereavement Services team. There is a cost of £50 per service.

Any further service updates and disruptions can be found on the service disruptions page.

Gateshead has two crematoria, at Birtley and at Saltwell. Ceremonies for all religious, non-religious and cultural traditions are available at both.

A full funeral service may be conducted within the crematorium chapel, or alternatively the service may be held elsewhere with a committal service held at the crematoria. Twenty-minute services are carried out throughout the day. The service can be extended at the time of booking if time is available and at an additional cost.

There are facilities in both crematoria to play virtually any piece of music, providing enough notice has been given before the service takes place.

Shortly after the service the coffin is placed into the cremator. If relatives wish to watch the committal, crematoria staff must be informed at the time of booking.

The law requires that cremated remains are disposed of in accordance with the written instructions of the applicant. The options are:

  • the remains may be scattered in the crematorium's Garden of Remembrance
  • the remains may be collected by the funeral director and given to the family to do with as they wish.

Cremation authorities who are members of the Federation of British Cremation Authorities are required to operate strictly in accordance with the Code of Cremation Practice

The Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) Charter for the Bereaved gives detailed information about all aspects of the cremation process and encompasses environmental and social aspects. We can provide information and guidance to you if you require.

Recycling of metals recovered from cremation

In the past metals were removed from the ashes and buried in the grounds of the crematorium. This has become less acceptable for environmental reasons. The ICCM has contracted OrthoMetals to collect and recycle metals from participating crematoria throughout the UK.

All money from the recycling scheme will be distributed amongst selected charities with confirmation posted on the ICCM website.

Burial and cremation records

If you are searching for records visit our burial and cremation records page. 

Contact us

Bereavement Services
Gateshead Council
Civic Centre
Regent Street
0191 433 3816 or 433 3811 

Office opening times: Monday to Friday 9am-1pm and 2-4.30pm

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