BEREAVED families of 'larger' people who have died are being forced to travel miles for their funerals because their coffins don't fit in cremators in Bournemouth or Poole.

A special large – or bariatric –cremator installed in Bournemouth 12 years ago is currently undergoing essential maintenance.

Poole does not have bariatric facilities and one family told the Daily Echo they have had to arrange a funeral in Weymouth instead.

One family member, who does not wish to be named, said: "My dad was 6ft 4ins tall and 20-odd stone and we've been told he's too big to be cremated in Bournemouth or Poole.

"When you hear about things like this you assume they're talking about people who are about 40-stone in weight. We couldn't believe it when we were told his coffin's too big."

She said the lack of a nearer bariatric facility has put additional stress on the family.

In Bournemouth's standard cremator, coffins up to 28 inches wide and 22 inches deep can be fitted inside. In Poole the figures are 27 inches and 20 inches.

But the bariatric facility, set to be closed until March 22, can fit coffins up to 39.5 inches wide and 27.5 inches deep.

Linda Barker, head of bereavement services at Bournemouth council, said: "Poole Crematorium does not currently have a large (bariatric) cremator installed. Bournemouth installed a bariatric cremator in 2007.

"By the very nature of construction of a cremator, essential work to re-line (replace the internal brickwork) has to be carried out as per the manufacturers guidance. This essential work on the bariatric cremator at Bournemouth is being undertaken between March 6 and 22.

"This is pre-planned maintenance and all funeral directors were informed by email on February 4 that the large cremator would not be available during this time. The last time that the cremator was turned off for this essential work was in 2013.

"We are sorry for any inconvenience that this essential work may cause to the bereaved."

The council was unable to say how many large coffins are dealt with in Bournemouth.