The Death Express - Halloween 2017

The Truth Behind: The Death Express

This tale takes us all the way back to Victorian London. Discover the unnerving truth behind the train built for one purpose, transporting the dead.

The Necropolis Railway Station in Westminster, London

The truth behind this eerie tale takes us back to a terrible time in Victorian London, so creepy that you’d rather believe we were making it up! All aboard please, come on, squeeze in, and we’ll go on a journey to find out the haunting history behind the Death Express...

The 19th century was an overcrowded time in the capital, a restless time, and a smelly time - yuck! They didn’t call it ‘The Great Stink’ for nothing.

You see the problem was that the population in London had doubled in size from 1800 to 1850. While some had more than a few bob to their name, most common folk huddled together in cold, dark and grimy slums, with rats for roommates and their raw sewage sludge (poo to you and me) oozing straight onto the street and into the River Thames. Bleugh!

It was a mucky, disease-ridden city - fifteen thousand Londoner’s died in the 1848 cholera epidemic alone. But even for the dead, there was to be no rest.

With all this dying going on, London’s cemeteries were stuffed to bursting. Families resorted to digging up rotting bodies that had only been laid to rest a few months previously. They tossed the stiffs aside, before burying their own breathless relatives - but for how long they would be down there - who knew? Grave robbers, on the other hand, were having a tremendous time! Their jobs became (quite literally) a walk in the park as they nicked jewellery off the corpses and even pilfered the bones and remains to sell on to anatomy surgeons. What gents!

The Victorians were a horrible bunch, but they were a proper bunch, and they weren’t going to stand for this with their dead for much longer! So a huge new cemetery was built in Brookwood, Woking. And the largest graveyard in Western Europe it became. A gigantic two hundred thousand acres and capable of holding twenty-eight and a half million coffins! It would become a second London underground - just this one with a little less life!

The Necropolis Railway Train

And to transport the hundreds of corpses on their last one-way journey, a railway exclusively for the departed - the London Necropolis Company’s Death Express. The train was especially kitted out with leather straps to keep the coffins secure, and maybe a few of the mourners too. They would travel distressed and distraught on the same train as their fellow stone cold passengers.

Up to sixty funerals a day would happen at Brookwood Cemetery. Afterwards the buffet car would open back at the station for snacks and pints. So not all bad... if you could stomach it!

Have a horrible day!

The Dungeon Keeper