A CREMATORIUM which saw a multi-million-pound refurbishment beset by delays has finally re-opened its doors.
Mortonhall Crematorium was shut in May last year to allow a major revamp to take place, as well as repairs to damage caused by a fire in 2015.
The council-run facility had been due to re-open in November, only for the date to be pushed back twice.
Now back up and running, the crematorium’s £2.1 million revamp has seen the creation of a new family room providing privacy and sympathetic surroundings.
It also boasts a refreshed external waiting room, including updated décor, and an oak site plan specially made by the Grassmarket Community Project.
Robbie Beattie, scientific bereavement and registration services senior manager, said: “We are delighted with the refurbishment of Mortonhall Crematorium, which will provide mourners with a much more comfortable and welcoming atmosphere during what can be a very difficult time.
“Unfortunately this major project required the temporary closure of crematorium buildings but we have worked closely with funeral directors and contractors to ensure alternative measures were put in place and that the work was completed as quickly as possible.”
Now in its 50th year, Mortonhall was originally designed by renowned architect Sir Basil Spence and incorporates the largest main chapel in the east of Scotland.
The revamp also includes restoration work on the main chapel’s organ, as well as the installation of high-definition web cameras to enable services to be streamed on the internet for those who can’t attend.
It will also be possible to stream them into the site’s smaller chapel for larger funerals with more guests.
New of the re-opening comes just months after undertakers hit out at delays on the project, saying funerals were being delayed by several days because of the resulting pressure on other crematoria.
During the closure, families were mostly diverted to Warriston, Seafield or West Lothian crematoria.
However, it was claimed this had resulted in local businesses, such as hotels, losing revenue as families held wakes in other areas.
Mark Porteous, president of the Scottish Society of Allied Independent Funeral Directors, said Mortonhall’s re-opening was a positive step for families and local businesses.
He said: “The fact it’s back open as a local authority crematorium is a positive as far as I’m concerned.
“My concern is being a listed building, will that create issues again in the future? Because there’s only certain things they can do. Being listed they can’t change or alter any of the building or structure.”
However, Mr Porteous said it was clear things were heading in the right direction, praising the new management team for improving lines of communication with local funeral directors.
He added: “You can always be picky and find fault but in general compared to what it was like before, the staff and the communication [it] has all been welcome – it’s improved greatly.”