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The Independent Culture
One Way to the Necropolis

(8.30pm R4)

The Necropolis Railway was the Victorian funeral train that took London's dead from Waterloo to their final resting place in Surrey (right). By the 19th century, the capital's cemeteries were overcrowded and deemed to be a health hazard so, in order to relieve the congestion, the government established a 2,000 acre graveyard in Brookwood with its own private railway line and station. The station was lit by skylights and had a special platform for those "attending a better class of funeral" (second and third-class mourners had to make do with waiting rooms). Enlisting the help of historian John Clarke, an expert on the Necropolis, Alan Dein searches for a coffin ticket and tells the story of the station of the dead.

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