The Spurgeon Family Move In
Barry and Carole moved into Brickfields as their new family home in March 1988. The site was steeped in history having been a working brickyard for many years, making bricks and tiles that were used to build Winchfield railway station and Hospital amongst other buildings. The site then became a prisoner of war camp where 40 Italians and Germans POW’s were held during WW2. During the war several huts were dotted around the grounds and the Kiln was used as a chapel; however when Barry & Carole moved to Brickfields only the Guard House and Brick Kiln remained intact.
Repointing of The Brick Kiln
Several months passed before Hampshire County Council approached them and advised them that the Brick Kiln located in their garden had become a grade 2 listed building and needed to be restored. The Kiln itself had been derelict for several years and was covered in ivy which was causing structural damage to it. The building was damp and in serious need of some TLC. The restoration took place in 1989 and took around 8 months. First the ivy was carefully removed then the Kiln was repointed using traditional methods of mortar and lime.
Hampshire County Council said it was a shame such a beautiful building was disused and suggested Barry & Carole could look at finding a use for the kiln as long as the structure remained unaltered.
Barry’s Idea Followed a Shocking Discovery
Over the next few months Barry and Carole tried to think of different uses for the building. They then watched a TV programme on what happened to deceased pets when they were left at the vet. They were shocked to see family pets being taken out of chest freezers in bags and thrown into vans like rubbish alongside the clinical waste generated by the vets during the week. There was no respect or dignified handling of the bodies and what they saw really upset them as, over the years, they had left their own pets at the vet to be “looked after” without knowing what really happened.
At the time they had an elderly German Shepherd called Brutus and they decided that they would never leave him to be “processed” like the poor pets they saw in the TV programme. Barry, a fashion agent, felt so strongly about the subject that he investigated into starting his own pet crematorium. After extensive research of both human and pet crematoriums he approached the local planning department and explained his idea of starting an individual crematorium for family pets. He met with mixed reactions from some of the counsellors as it was an unknown service at the time however he gained their support and planning permission was subsequently granted.
The Early Years
In the early days Dignity Pet Crematorium was run by Carole whilst Barry continued as a fashion agent to make ends meet. They used the old Guard House as a Farewell Room where owners could come and say a final goodbye to their pets. At the time individual cremation of pets was not commonplace and most vets didn’t give customers a choice.Unless people asked for an individual cremation their pet would be sent for mass disposal (AKA communal cremation). Gradually more vets in the local area gave clients a choice (mainly because of people that had found Dignity directly went back to their vet and asked why they weren’t given this more personal option!). By 1999 Dignity had outgrown the “Guard Hut” and so Barry & Carole demolished their garage and took the brave step to build a purpose built pet crematorium.
The Changing Face of Pet Cremation
As more people asked for individual cremations the disposal companies started promoting their ashes back services (a much more basic service than Dignity’s where pets would receive no special handling, would be collected with clinical waste and the owner would receive some ashes back a week or two later). They promoted this service to the vets as part of a “complete package” for the practice (I.E. they offered ashes back, communal cremation & removal of clinical waste).
In more recent years, with large disposal companies fighting for veterinary contracts, these companies began promoting their pet cremation services on the basis they could offer a very low cost price to the vet, who they then encouraged to uplift the cost by £100+ to make an easy and substantial profit from the pet owner for “arranging” their pet’s cremation.
This has led to most vets now contracting to the cheapest (and not necessarily the best) companies for pet cremation. Owners are rarely given a full description of the service on offer prior to being sold the cremation and most vets have never inspected the facility they use (and if they have they may not know what to look for to ensure the correct working procedures are in place to guarantee the pet cremation service is operated to an acceptable standard).
Striving to be the Best
Throughout all these changes Dignity Pet Crematorium has remained dedicated to offering the best service possible for pet owners and vets that choose our more personal service, picking up various awards on the way including being rated as the top service in the UK by our customers via the Freeindex review site. In 2012 we considerably improved the facilities and extended the original pet crematorium, created a Remembrance Walkway linking it to the Kiln and widened our gateway (amongst other things!). We feel our facilities now match our first class service and we will continue to devote ourselves to offering affordable individual pet cremation services to owners.
We are indebted to all the loyal vets that have given owners a choice as well as the wonderful pet lovers that have supported us over the years by telling friends and relatives about us – without them we wouldn’t be here today.