THE £1.3 million modernisation of the outdated Rowley Regis Crematorium has begun this week.

Rowley Regis Crematorium in Powke Lane opened in 1962 and now needs updating and expanding to accommodate larger groups.

Work on the upgrading of the building started on Monday and will see the chapel double in size to provide over 100 seats for families attending funeral services.

Sandwell Council’s deputy leader Councillor Mahboob Hussain, said: “We are always looking at new ways of making improvements to frontline services and the work at Rowley Regis Crematorium is just one of a number that have made.

"The work at Rowley Regis follows the expansion of Sandwell Valley Crematorium and there have been other big improvements in service including combining our coroners, beareavement and registation service into a single service to support family more readily. We're also developing a digital autopsy centre at Sandwell Valley Crematorium to offer non-invasive post mortems to bereaved families across the West Midlands."

Architects Martin Critchell worked in conjunction with local funeral directors and Sandwell Council's bereavement services on design and modernisation work.

The work will include a new entrance, improved toilet facilities, additional car parking spaces, improvements to the interior and exterior of the building and a new waiting area for families.

Interclass director and general manager Don Ward said the company was pleased to have secured the Rowley Regis Crematorium project.

He said: "Our team will be working closely with council staff throughout this project to ensure we respect the sensitive nature of the site so that disruption to funeral services is kept to a minimum.”

The crematorium will continue to be open for business for the majority of the seven months of building work.