Opened 1882. Large cemetery on site rising to hill to NE; laid out in mixture of grid and curving paths. Large number of memorials, including Celtic crosses, obelisks and sculpture, the best of which are on the higher ground.
BOUNDARY WALLS, GATEPIERS, GATES AND RAILINGS: to W boundary, low random rubble wall (see Notes). To S boundary, dwarf random rubble wall surmounted by ornate wrought and cast iron railings; at entrance, 6 sandstone gatepiers, square plan with chamfered corners and large caps with cusped panels, surmounted by orbs; ornate wrought iron gates and panels; flanking sections with railings, random squared rubble wall with stone and concrete saddleback coping.
CREMATORIUM: James Chalmers, 1893-5; later additions including tower (early 20th century) and extensions to S and NE (mid 20th century). Gothic, originally composed of short rectangular nave with very short transept to N and transept to S; to N, tower with stair turret, to S later addition. Predominantly coursed squared red sandstone rubble with ashlar quoins and margins. Eaves cornice. Predominantly pitched, red-brown tiled roofs; stone skews and some moulded skewputts. Predominantly cast-iron rainwater goods.
W (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: to outer left, tower (see below). To left, advanced 2-storey gable-end of nave; full height gabled angle buttresses; steps leading up to cusp-arched doorway with complex carving to archivault; string course dividing ground and 1st floors; above, stepped recessed tripartite window, divided by buttress style mullions, with cusp-arched heads. To left of nave, recessed single bay; cusp-arched window with chevron moulding. To right of nave, 3-bay, 2-storey transept; advanced gabled central bay with blocked rectangular window to ground floor, hoodmoulded recessed cusp-arched window to gable; to flanking bays, single cusp-arched windows with chevron moulding to 1st floor; to all 3 bays, 1st floor cill course and continuous hoodmould. To outer right, advanced piend-roofed section with small angle buttresses, steps leading to 2-leaf timber-boarded door in segmental opening with relief plaque (depicting an angel) and parapet breaking eaves above.
N (SIDE) ELEVATION: to outer right, tower (see below). To left single storey, 4-bay elevation; outer bays slightly advanced; bipartite windows.
E (REAR) ELEVATION: largely blank curtain wall; to outer left, pointed arched doorway; to right, trabeated doorway; to centre, original square incinerator stack with ashlar top, flanked by round-arched openings; to right, gabled section with steps leading to 2-leaf timber-boarded door with raised door surround incorporating phoenix relief to top and flanked by small buttresses. Behind wall, E gable end of nave; paired slim cusp-arched windows, vesica window above.
S (SIDE) ELEVATION: 6-bay elevation, 2-storey to 2nd and 3rd bays from left. To outer left bay, pair of windows; 2nd bay from left slightly advanced with 2 small windows to ground floor and tripartite segmentally arched window to 1st floor, all in recessed ashlar panel; to 3rd, 4th and 5th bays, pointed arched openings with modern glazed infill to ground floor, small arched window to 1st floor to 3rd bay; to outer right, buttressed advanced ashlar bay with pointed arched glazed opening.
TOWER: 6-stage square-plan tower with low angle buttresses and canted stair bay to E elevation. To W elevation, shallow window to ground stage; blind window to 2nd stage; above, tall lancet flanked by slender buttresses surmounted by small lancets. To N elevation, shallow windows to ground and 1st stage, above tall lancet flanked by slender buttresses. To E elevation, round-headed windows to upper 4 stages of canted bay. To S elevation, as at N but lowest stages obscured.
INTERIOR: 3-bay pointed arched arcaded nave, squat marble columns with high bases and dog-tooth moulded capitals between westmost bays; roll-moulded window surrounds; exposed timber collar-beam roof; to n, round arched opening with modern metal screen leading into tower (columbarium), square marble-faced galleries grouped around central void, top-lit by stained glass dome. Some good stained glass; Harrington Mann of Guthrie and Wells, 1950 and Gordon Webster, 1965.
JEWISH PRAYER HOUSE: circa 1900; situated in Jewish Cemetery to SE of crematorium. Small, rectangular plan 3-bay nave with flanking aisles. Deep base course of bullfaced coursed red sandstone; remainder red brick with smooth red sandstone margins, quoins, skews and skew putts; lesenes to W elevation. Large openings with modern doors to N and W elevations; large arrow-loop opening (blocked) to E elevation; round windows to clerestory.
WW1 WAR MEMORIAL: to immediate NE of entrance gates; polished granite cross with sword inlay, surrounded by stepped wall with panels to rear carved with regimental insignia.
SOUTH AFRICAN WAR MEMORIAL: to immediate NE of entrance gates, carved stone memorial to the fallen of the 1899-1902 Boer War.
Statement of Special Interest
The Western Necropolis Crematorium was first official crematorium to be built in Scotland, and remained the only one in the country until the 1930s. It was also only the third crematorium to be built in the United Kingdom. It was constructed for the Scottish Burial Reform and Cremation Society which formed in 1891 for the purpose of advocating 'simplicity in funerals and to provide for those who may declare their preference for it'. For several years the society concentrated on educating the public about cremation (which was at that time largely mistrusted) by means of the Press and giving talks to various societies. Eventually, they were able to gain enough support to build their crematorium, and the first cremation took place on 17th April 1895.
The Western Necropolis was established in 1882, one of a number of extramural cemeteries in Glasgow to be established in the later 19th century, following a report of 1869 which recommended that the crowded intramural cemeteries of Glasgow should cease to be used for burials, save for special exceptions. The Necropolis covers land which had previously formed the estate of Westfield House or Farm. This building itself previously stood on the low rise just to the NE of the cemetery gates, but was gradually altered, demolished and replaced during the 20th century. The modern buildings currently on that site largely cover the original structure's footprint; the derelict harled and tiled lodge was built between 1914 and 1935 (derelict, 2003). The W boundary wall appears to predate the establishment of the Necropolis, and was probably an estate boundary. The grand S entrance gatepiers and high quality iron gates and railings were formed specially for the Necropolis, just to the W of the established approach road to Westfield.
The Jewish Cemetery was established in 1898 and there have been more than 1000 Jewish burials at the Western Necropolis.