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   Carruthers  Wednesday Feb 21 01:19 PM

Feb 21st, 2018. London Necropolis.

The Victorians were an innovative, resourceful and entrepreneurial bunch and during the 19th Century great advances were made in science, engineering, transport and industry.
With the expansion of London as a centre of commerce and industry came a doubling of its population in the first half of the century.
The increasing numbers living in overcrowded and less than sanitary conditions brought a corresponding increase in what my father refers to as ‘the great majority’ ie the dead.
London’s ability to deal with its ever increasing number of cadavers had been under great pressure for years when, during 1849/50, 15,000 souls perished in a Cholera epidemic and it became clear that desperate times called for desperate measures.
Step forward Sir Richard Broun and Sir Richard Sprye of the The London Necropolis and National Mausoleum Company. I told you they were entrepreneurial, didn’t I?
Five hundred acres of low grade land was to be purchased near Woking, Surrey. Here a cemetery would be established and funeral trains would transport the dead and accompanying mourners from a private station adjacent to London’s main line terminus Waterloo, twenty-eight miles to private stations within the new cemetery.

Attachment 63237

Not surprisingly there were rumblings about lack of respect for the dead when transported by the newfangled railway.
The Bishop of London, pausing only to reach for his smelling salts, opined

“For instance, the body of some profligate spendthrift might be placed in a conveyance with the body of some respectable member of the church, which would shock the feelings of his friends.”
But the Bishop need not have feared. The classes were tastefully kept apart and the distinction of rank preserved with both living and dead divided by religion and by class: Conformist (Anglican) and Non-conformist (everyone else); and first, second and third class. So, in death, as in life, the Victorian gentry were spared the ignominy of consorting with the lower orders.

To life’s certainties of death and taxes you can add the requirement to buy a ticket for the journey.
Even the dead didn’t escape that. One way, of course.

Attachment 63238

On the night of 16th/17th April 1941 London was heavily bombed and the station was destroyed. The London Necropolis Railway never ran again.

Attachment 63239

The cemetery, now owned by Woking Necropolis and Mausoleum Limited, a subsidiary of Woking Borough Council, is still in use today and is the resting place of 235,000 souls.
The site also has areas administered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the American Battle Monuments Commission.

London Necropolis Railway

Brookwood American Cemetery

Brookwood Cemetery

London Necropolis Railway

sexobon  Wednesday Feb 21 09:40 PM

I don't suppose that place would have been on anyone's bucket list.

limey  Thursday Feb 22 01:53 PM

Great work Carruthers!

Carruthers  Thursday Feb 22 02:33 PM


Somewhat peripheral, but a while back I researched my family history and couldn't understand why my G G Grandfather, a Londoner (but keep that to yourself), was recorded as having been buried in Woking cemetery in 1883.
It was only during a chat with Sundae a couple of years ago that all became clear. She'd been to an exhibition entitled 'The Necropolitan Line' at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds and on relating the where, when, why and how of it all, did everything fall into place.

xoxoxoBruce  Thursday Feb 22 02:40 PM

I wonder if Broun and Sprye were Sirs before this venture?

Carruthers  Thursday Feb 22 04:11 PM

Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce View Post
I wonder if Broun and Sprye were Sirs before this venture?
It isn't clear, but being afeared of offending the gentry one deferred to their higher station.

As it were.

Diaphone Jim  Friday Feb 23 12:46 PM

Not too far from Brooklands Race Course.

Carruthers  Friday Feb 23 01:09 PM

Originally Posted by Diaphone Jim View Post
Not too far from Brooklands Race Course.
And some of the track still survives:

Street View Link 1

Street View Link 2

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