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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A crematory (also known as a retort) is a machine in which cremation takes place. Crematories are usually found in funeral homes and in cemeteries.



crematory of West-London
burning body in a crematory

The technology in crematories has improved a lot over the years. Steve Looker owner and CEO of B&L Cremation Systems, Inc.Invented a new system called the "Hot Hearth" in the early 1980s. This systems allows the hearth or the base of the machine to heat up from the hot gases running underneath the hearth. This allows the machine to maintain higher temperature which saves gas and reduces the impact on the environment. Dr. Looker also introduced many other new ideas to the cremation industry. He came up with the design for a separate remains removal door, located on the side of the unit. This enables the operator to push the remains to the rear of the chamber and remove the remains there. By doing this the heat loss is reduced in the machine and therefore saves energy. Crematories used to run on timers (some still do) and one would have to figure out the weight of the body, then figure out how long the body has to be cremated and then set multiple timers. Now there are crematories that are fully automated with PLC (Programmable logic controller) touchscreens, where the weight and the name of the deceased have to be entered before a 'start'-button is pressed.



The first modern crematory

In 1873, Paduan Professor Brunetti presented a cremation chamber at the Vienna Exposition. In Britain, the movement found the support of Queen Victoria's surgeon, Sir Henry Thompson, who together with colleagues founded the Cremation Society of England in 1874. The first crematoria in Europe were built in 1878 in Woking, Surrey, England and Gotha, Germany, the first in North America in 1876 by Dr. Francis Julius LeMoyne in Washington, Pennsylvania. The second cremation in the United States was that of Charles F. Winslow in Salt Lake City, Utah on July 31, 1877. The first cremation in Britain took place on 26 March, 1886 at Woking.

Cremation was declared as legal in England and Wales when Dr. William Price was prosecuted for cremating his son; formal legislation followed later with the passing of the Cremation Act of 1902 (this Act did not extend to Ireland), which imposed procedural requirements before a cremation could occur and restricted the practice to authorised places. Some of the various Protestant churches came to accept cremation, with the rationale being, "God can resurrect a bowl of ashes just as conveniently as he can resurrect a bowl of dust." The 1908 Catholic Encyclopedia was critical about these efforts, referring to them as a "sinister movement" and associating them with Freemasonry, although it said that "there is nothing directly opposed to any dogma of the Church in the practice of cremation." In 1963, Pope Paul VI lifted the ban on cremation, and in 1966 allowed Catholic priests to officiate at cremation ceremonies.

Australia also started to establish modern cremation movements and societies. Australians had their first purpose-built modern crematorium and chapel in the West Terrace Cemetery in the South Australian capital of Adelaide in 1901. This small building, resembling the buildings at Woking, remained largely unchanged from its 19th century style and was in full operation until the late 1950s. The oldest operating crematorium in Australia is at Rookwood, in Sydney which opened in 1925.

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