The London Necropolis Railway was opened in 1854 as a reaction to severe overcrowding in London’s existing graveyards and cemeteries.
Waterloo station was originally the terminus for London’s daily funeral express to Brookwood Cemetery. Funerary trains bearing coffins (at 2/6 each – singles, naturally) left from the ’Necropolis Station’ just outside the main station. The Necropolis Station was totally destroyed during World War II. It aimed to use the recently-developed technology of the railway to move as many burials as possible to the newly-built Brookwood Cemetery in Brookwood, Surrey. This location was within easy travelling distance of London, but distant enough that the dead could not pose any risk to public hygiene. Although it had its own branch line into Brookwood Cemetery, most of the route of the London Necropolis Railway ran on the existing London and South Western Railway (LSWR). Consequently, a site was selected in Waterloo, near the LSWR’s recently-opened London terminus at Waterloo Bridge station (now London Waterloo). The building was specifically designed for the use of mourners. It had many private waiting rooms, which could also be used to hold funeral services, and a hydraulic lift to raise coffins to platform level. Existing railway arches were used for the storage of bodies. In 1899 the location of the terminus was blocking the expansion of Waterloo station. After much negotiation, the LSWR reached agreement with the London Necropolis Company, the owners of the cemetery and the railway: in return for the existing site, the LSWR re-equipped the London Necropolis Railway and supplied it with a new station on Westminster Bridge Road. This new building was designed to contrast with other funeral directors’ premises by being as attractive as possible. In 1902 the railway moved into the new building, and the earlier station was demolished. On 16 April 1941 the station was heavily damaged in an air raid. Much of the building was destroyed and the tracks to the station were rendered unusable. Although some funeral trains continued to run from nearby Waterloo station, the London terminus was never used again. Following the end of the war the London Necropolis Company decided that reopening the London Necropolis Railway was not financially worthwhile, and the surviving part of the station building was sold as office space. This remnant remains intact, and relatively unaltered since its opening.
TUM Book Club: Old Covent Garden
The magic of the old Covent Garden Market is evoked through Clive Boursnell’s photographs, taken over the course of numerous visits to Covent Garden in the 1960s and 1970s.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s Clive Boursnell, then a young photographer, shot thousands of photographs of the old Covent Garden, documenting the end of an era before the markets moved out of central London. Boursnell captured these last days of the market over a period of six years, from 1968 until the market’s closure, in a series of beautiful portraits of the feisty life of a city institution.
Building Westminster Bridge (1744) Westminster Bridge was constructed between 1738 and 1750. Richard Wilson’s view of the bridge under construction can be dated to around September 1744. It was at this time that the timber framework supporting the arch immediately to the left of the central span was dismantled – an operation clearly visible in Wilson’s picture. The painting also shows the first stages of construction of the two arches to the right of the central arch, work which had begun that summer. The balustrade surmounting the central arch, although visible in Wilson’s picture, was not completed until the summer of 1745, suggesting that the artist had access to detailed plans or even the designer’s model for the bridge. Wilson’s view is taken from the Westminster side of the river, from Parliament Stairs, looking east towards the city of London and the dome of St Paul’s cathedral, visible on the horizon between the incomplete section of the bridge and the Lambeth shore.
Richard Wilson/Tate Britain
Video: Flying into LCY
A simulated flight into LCY courtesy of Google Earth Studio.
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