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The London Necropolis Railway
August 1, 2005 9:20 AM   Subscribe

The London Necropolis Railway During the first half of the 19th century, London's population more than doubled and the number of London corpses requiring disposal was growing almost as fast. Cemetery space in the city had failed to keep pace with this growth, and so the vast new Brookwood Cemetery - the London Necropolis - was built in Surrey. Brookwood was the largest burial ground in the world when it was opened in 1854 by the London Necropolis & National Mausoleum Company. To get there, the deceased and their mourners - segregated by class - could catch a train from Westminster. The Necropolis Railway survived until World War 2, when it was heavily damaged. The railway was subsequently closed as motorised hearses became more popular. See also: Also: a six part Fortean Times article extracted from Google's cache [1 2 3 4 5 6]
posted by carter (14 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Two zombie posts separated by a "dead of winter" link, and now this.
posted by alumshubby at 9:57 AM on August 1, 2005


This is great. I love reading about urban history, even more so when there are little bits and pieces left over that can be poked at like part of a detective game. It's nice to have ties to the past.

Thanks, carter!

Anyone know of urban history sites that cover, say, Oakland CA?
posted by 5MeoCMP at 9:58 AM on August 1, 2005


[this is good]
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:58 AM on August 1, 2005


Yes I noticed the 'death' theme when I finally posted ... but it was entirely unintentional!
posted by carter at 10:01 AM on August 1, 2005


I love Fortean Times, a mag well worth the subscription and a website worth at least a day of surfitude. Great post.
posted by moonbird at 10:13 AM on August 1, 2005


This is great stuff, thanks.
(Just finished reading Neverwhere, too.)
posted by fatllama at 10:14 AM on August 1, 2005


Funny timing, I was just reading more on it because one of the latest posts on the LJ Urban Decay group was on the railway - the link.

Great topic, thanks for the info.
posted by livii at 11:27 AM on August 1, 2005


Heh, too weird. If you like this, you may like Simon Winchester's The Professor and the Madman, which is where I first came across a passing mention of it ...
posted by carter at 11:39 AM on August 1, 2005


What's strange about that is that Sydney has a Necropolis station, which was a dedicated line going to our own large cemetary, which is called "Rookwood" instead of "Brookwood".

I see the "Mortuary Station" every morning as I arrive at Central. It's available for hire -- I think Ian Thorpe had a party there recently.

Here's a photo.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 5:40 PM on August 1, 2005


Wow. Fascinating. Any ghost stories set there?
posted by jrossi4r at 8:16 PM on August 1, 2005


This is great. I knew there were 5 major cemetaries around London in Victorian times and have visited Highgate. Thanks for posting this.
posted by gleenyc at 9:04 PM on August 1, 2005


Similar tale with San Francisco, evidently cemetaries were kept out of city limits to preserve real estate for the living. Evidently Colma is unique in that it has more dead residents than living.
posted by 445supermag at 9:06 PM on August 1, 2005


Does Neil Gaiman know about this? It seems like it's right up his alley.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:28 PM on August 1, 2005


The Necropolis Railway - something to read if you've enjoyed this post. Which I have. Thanks. :o)
posted by paperpete at 2:04 AM on August 2, 2005


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