A FUNERAL director says it will be working "in the right way" when exhuming bodies from a Bournemouth graveyard.

Chester Pearce Funeral Service will be removing as many as 120 bodies from the disused cemetery at the former Pokesdown and Boscombe United Reformed Church in Southbourne Road, following a successful planning application by Jaydem Homes.

The funeral firm's managing director Stephen Nimmo said he would be among a number of forensic anthropologists using the opportunity to learn more about one of the borough's historic sites.

"The graveyard has no records so we want to try and learn something about these people," he said.

"Eventually all the remains are going to be reburied, with any items or jewellery found with them, at Kinson Cemetery. We want to allow for a period of three months to analyse the remains.

"In the end we will have a very strong record of what we found, which will be published online. We want to put a plaque at the site with a QR code so if anyone does show up thinking there is someone buried there they can find the records."

The firm also plans to invite students to take part in the dig as part of their studies.

Mr Nimmo said a team of 10 will work on the exhumation, starting at the end of July and lasting several days, since each body must be removed individually.

"If these bodies have to be removed, we want to make sure it is dealt with in the right way," said Mr Nimmo.

"We are approaching this in the most respectful way possible. We deal with the dead every day of the week and these remains will be treated in exactly the same way.

"People are welcome to get in touch if they have any questions."

Part of the difficulty identifying those buried at the site is because there are only six headstones remaining, although others may be buried.

These are listed, and as part of the process Chester Pearce will have them cleaned and renovated before being returned to the site.

However, Mr Nimmo said the developer may ultimately seek to have them removed when seeking to build on the site.

The Grade II listed adjacent church has already been converted into flats.

Back in 2016 a group called PLP commissioned Tapper Funeral Service to carry out the exhumation, however this work was never undertaken.