Why did they build a railway for the dead?
Articles, Blog

Why did they build a railway for the dead?

January 14, 2020


Between 1801 and 1851 the population of London
more than doubled. With the growth in the number of people living in the city, the number
of dead quickly grew too. The usual burial sites in the local churches
were so full that even recent burials were being exhumed to make space for new ones,
scattering decaying remains around the Graveyards. This overflow of corpses ended up contaminating
the water supply, contributing to outbreaks of disease and even more deaths. Some entrepreneurs saw a money making opportunity
and in 1852 the London Necropolis company was formed. They proposed a huge cemetery in the Surrey
countryside. Far enough from London’s expansion to protect the living. Which would be accessible
with the fairly new technology of the steam train. The first train for the London Necropolis
Railway ran in 1854, you were able to buy first second and third class funeral services. The railway operated for nearly 90 years up
until 1941 when the London terminal for the railway was mostly destroyed in a World War
2 air raid. The London Necropolis company decided not
to rebuild but the first class entrance to the station, and the office building above
it survived the bombing and is still standing on Westminster Bridge rd near Waterloo station
today.

1 Comment

  • Reply Steve Folland February 7, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    Great animation – and I never knew that existed!

  • Leave a Reply