BY RICHARD MADDOX
THE LONDON NECROPOLIS RAILWAY was a private company transporting the dead of London to the London Necropolis (Brookwood cemetery in Surrey), one of the ‘new’ cemeteries built to ease the severe overcrowding in the capital’s existing ones after the population doubled in number from the early to mid – 1800s.
Although the company was in existence from 1854 to 1941 the building at Westminster Bridge Road dates from 1902.
In April 1941 the station was badly damaged in an air raid. The war ended and the London Necropolis Railway decided not to reopen, selling off the remaining buildings for office space.
The entrance to the site at Westminster Bridge Road was for first class mourners; second and third class parties entered through a separate entrance off Hercules Road.
The existing building – now Grade II listed – and a few iron pillars that supported the railway structures are all that remain of the large station complex. It had ticket offices and separate waiting rooms (multiple First, Second and Third class rooms according to the type of travel and funeral party was to undertake. Waiting rooms could also double as chapels for funeral services if required), mortuaries, workshops and specialist facilities for handling the coffins – including a steam-powered lift to raise them to platform level. There was apparently a stock of coffins on hand in case of deaths in hotels or similar premises where… erm…a certain amount of discretion was needed…