Joshua Major was an important Victorian garden designer and he designed the original layout of paths and planting for Holbeck cemetery in October 1857 and was paid the princely sum of £6 1 shilling for this work. We think that there may have been a family connection already with the cemetery as his mother’s maiden name was Bramma and we have several members of that family buried here.( more about the Brammas at a later date)
Joshua wrote several books on garden design. we know from the 1986 book ‘Victorian Gardens’ by Brent Eliot who quotes “ by 1846 three parks ,all designed by Joshua Major were opened in Manchester,Salford and Birkenhead and they all made provision for athletics and popular games. Joshua , an early advocate of ‘innocent athletic games’ included areas for quoits,archery,bowls and gymnasia in all these park designs.”
In 1852 Joshua Major had his own book printed,’The Theory and Practise of Landscape Gardening’, in looking at a small extract from this volumn it is intriguing to note how much detail he places on something as apparently simple as the constuction of a path.
He writes,” Dry gravel paths are indespensable for the enjoyment of scenery. I prefer winding walks. No walks should be less than 5 feet wide , unless the grounds are very small, when they can be 4 feet wide.They should appear like natural tracks and walks in the grounds of gentle undulation should invariably be long or graceful sweeps, not only because such they are most beautiful and pleasing but because they are less interrupting to the student or reading pedestrian,than those of more sudden or numerous bends. At the junction of two principal walks each should diverge gradually in an opposite direction from the other which should be more in character than if both inclined one way.”
NOTE: Originally the only straight path in Holbeck Cemetery went from the small gate at Beeston Road to the far perimeter wall- dividing the cemetery into Consecrated section on the left and the Unconsecrated on the right, There were two lodges at the entrance each serving one section of the cemetery. Today you can still see one of the lodges , which is privately owned.