London Train Service For Only Dead Their Used

 The London train service in which only the dead and their heirs used to travel

In November 1854 a UK  train made its 1st journey from Waterloo railway station in central London. To the county of Surrey in south east England. But instead of the enthusiastic passengers seeking relief in the countryside. This train was occupied by people dressed in mourning clothes.

There were no suitcases or trunks in the compartments of this train. But coffins were placed in them and those too with bodies. The train was heading for Brookwood Cemetery near the town of Woking.

The first burials in this cemetery were the stillborn twin daughters of Mrs. Hall of Ever Street, a suburb of London. Eho were buried in an unmarked grave. This was for families who could not afford the funeral expenses at that time.

Mourners made the 74Km journey to bury their dead because London’s rapidly growing population left no space for cemeteries.

Although there were hundreds of cemeteries in the grounds of the churches established in the capital, they were running out of space to bury more men.

Grave upon grave

This situation was described in 1852 by David W. Bartlett. An American writer and educator, in his publication What I saw in London 

He wrote that while walking in London. I have seen many times the cemeteries attached to different churches. They are nearly all well above the level of the pavement and in some cases five or 06 feet above it.

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The reason for this was quite clear. It was a deposit of human soil for years and that too in the middle of the largest city in the world.

The number of bodies was more than the burial capacity. St. Martin Church. Which received 14,000 bodies in Ten years was much larger than its area.

2,000 coffins were found stacked on top of each other in a vault at the Methodist Church in New Kent Road.

William Chamberlain the grave digger at St Clement’s gave evidence to a select committee of the House of Commons in 1842.

He more said the ground was so full of dead bodies that they could not build a new grave without disturbing other graves. He and his colleagues were then instructed to cut down coffins and bodies to make room for new graves.

After which it became necessary to build a large cemetery in the suburbs of London. In the year 1851. The British Parliament passed the Burial of the Dead in the Metropolis Act, which amended the rules regarding the burial of men known as the Burial Act.

The following year, the London Necropolis and National Mausoleum Company LNC was formed with the intention of building London one and only cemetery in perpetuity.

The company went to great lengths to make the new cemetery in Woking so attractive that Londoners would not consider burying their loved ones elsewhere.

London Necropolis and National Mausoleum Company

Distance was the problem

A brochure advertising the newly built cemetery also said, It is so charming that loneliness can find a place to rest.

But a major problem in attracting people to this new cemetery was the distance. The distance of 37 kilometers one way between London and Brookwood meant that a traditional horse drawn hearse could take up to 12 hours to get there at its proper slow speed.

Although Brookwood was more suitable than London overcrowded cemeteries. A better way to deliver a funeral had to be found.

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Fortunately the newly established South Western train line passed by the cemetery.

The train route passed through Richmond Park and Hampton Court Palace and was a scene described by one of the founders of the railway as comfortable and once again attractive to the wealthy.

Service for every class

But not everyone was willing to bury their loved ones there. The managers of the London and South West Railway line. Which passed through Waterloo station did not agree to allow their passengers to use the carriages of the train which had previously been used for coffins and funerals.

The Bishop of London Charles Bloomfield, also forbade the use of the railway line for cemeteries and told a House of Commons select committee that the decision to transport funerals by train to cemeteries was hasty and incongruous with Christian funerals. Is  inconsistent with respect to.

The bishop was also concerned that the remains of those who had lived religiously decent and good lives would travel with those whose lifestyles were morally weak.

Along with social objections to this decision, there was also the objection that people of different sects or even religions would be buried in the same place.

The solution was to have a separate service for the train to the Necropolis. With its own trains and timetables and 6 separate categories of tickets for the living and the dead.

The coffins on this train were spaced so that the bodies of Anglican worshipers would travel with Anglican mourners and those of other faiths would . 

Many other people also took advantage of the cheap train tickets. For example many golfers disguised themselves as mourners and traveled cheaply.

The train service continued until the Second World War when on the night of 16 April 1941. The station was bombed in one of the last major air raids on London, destroying roads railway tracks and buildings.

After World War II this train service was not resumed and travel by car became popular.

Thus ended the London Necropolis Railway.

The station building still stands today on the road to Westminster. While Brookwood also has a railway track and platform.

The National Railway Company of Great Britain has also created a special section in memory of this special station.

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