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The British Cemetery

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The British Cemetery of Bilbao, originally located in center of the town, at borders of the Nervión River, was mainly  used as cemetery for British subjects during second half of century XVIII. Horace Young, British Consul arrived at Bilbao in 1859 found the British Cemetery (also known as “the Seven Trees”), in an abandonment state, consequence of the fact that at that time it would not be possible for the little number of British residents to maintain it. It was flooded and apparently many mortuary tombs and tablets were lost. The arrival of the Consul Young happend at the same time with an increase of the British community, partly formed by workers employed in the construction of the Bilbao-Tudela railroad. After the concession by the Spanish Crown to the British Government for the perpetuity use of the lot like cemetery by Real decree of the 31 of December of the 1860, the consulate raised enough funds from individuals in order to recover the Cemetery.

At the beginning of the present century the existence of the cemetery in the center of Bilbao was questioned regarding the public hygiene and also because the harbor authority wished to acquire it for its use. After many vicissitudes and failed attempts it was reached an agreement in 1926 by which a lot in the neighboring municipality of Lujua (Loiu) was acquired. The Cemetery was built with a Protestant Chapel and another Catholic-Roman Chapel, as well as a house for the guardkeeper.

The existence of British cemeteries here and in other parts of Spain had been owned initially to the lack of consacrated land availability for the non-Roman faithfuls, a situation that persisted until the 60’s.

During the transfer period the people in charge with the Cemetery decided to extend the use of the interments to catholic-Roman members of the British community. The respective zones and chapels were consecrated by the Anglican Bishop of Gibraltar, and the Catholic-Roman Parish priest of Lujua in May 1929, and the rest and funeral tablets were transferred from the old lot to the new one during the four following months. Beside British, there are many of other nationalities buried in the Cemetery, including Germans, Americans, Spaniards, French, Greek, Irish, Norwegian, Swedish and Swiss among others.

The Commonwealth Tombs

56 fallen of the Commonwealth and the allies during World War II are buried here. The majority were originally buried in other cemeteries on the coasts of the North and the Northwest of Spain, where the permanent maintenance management was not easy. The remains were, therefore, transferred to the Cemetery by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in a parcel offered by the Committee of the British Cemetery. There are also 7 fallen tombs of in the War of 1914-18 in this parcel. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission provides economic support for the maintenance of this parcel.

The British Cemetery is maintained mainly by the income of burial, investments and private donations.The British General Consul acts as the unofficial president of the  British Cemetery Committee, which is the organ in charge with its management.

The British cemetery is found at the municipal boundary of Lujua (Loiu). You should follow the N-637 Lezama direction. It is located between Sondika and Derio, closely to the new control tower of the airport, next to the footbal ground and a small park.

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