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London borough of Merton – burial and cremation records

Burial records go online

Following a sixteen week project to digitise and transcribe the burial and grave records of Merton Council, the complete record is available both for online searching and as an integral part of the service’s admin system.

Digitising maps and registers

TownsWeb Archiving undertook the offsite scanning of 54 large scale cemetery maps, using special flatbed equipment, creating full colour images in tiff and jpg formats.

Almost one hundred burial registers needed digitising. This project was carried out off site, and TownsWeb provided a ‘lookup’ service during the project’s progress so that there was no disruption to the service.

Transcription service a vital component

The handwritten records were scanned in greyscale, but also transcribed so they could be searched. TownsWeb liaised with the Council’s chosen software partner to create files in a format that could be imported into the service’s admin system, BACAS. The data capture process of more than 100,000 records made key fields available for searching:

  • Burial Number
  • Cemetery
  • Section
  • Plot Number
  • Deceased Surname, Forename
  • Date of Burial
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Register Entry Reference
  • Grant Number

Thinking ahead

Merton’s forward thinking Cemeteries Manager sees the potential benefits of an online admin system: ‘We would eventually like the admin system to be available online and via an app for smart phones that would enable mobile teams to access the system and receive alerts for new bookings.’

In the meantime all Merton’s burial records are now available for viewing on an external hard-drive using book viewing software provided by TownsWeb Archiving, and the transcribed records are integrated into the service’s admin system.

“We decided to go with TownsWeb Archiving because they were very price competitive and they provided us with some very clear and accurate samples. More importantly, they had been highly recommended to us by other bereavement services.

We are completely happy with the service they have provided. They collected and returned our books and maps within the timescales that we had requested. The images they provided were excellent and the transcribed data from the hand-written records is very accurate.

We would recommend TownsWeb Archiving to any service thinking of carrying out the essential task of backing up hard copies and digitising their cemetery registers, records and maps.”

Mark Robinson

Cemeteries Manager

London Borough of Merton

TownsWeb Archiving Ltd can be contacted on 01536 713834 or via email at [email protected].