The history of the London Necropolis Railway and the Great Northern Cemetery Company is also available as a video documentary, which can be viewed by clicking below:
It sounds strange- morbid even- but in the mid-19th century, two railway terminals opened in London which were specifically designed for transporting the dead.
The first of these funeral lines, which operated close to Waterloo Station, was officially titled the London Necropolis and National Mausoleum Company, whilst the second was known as the Great Northern London Cemetery Company; its location being just outside of King’s Cross.
Over the years, the London Necropolis Company has been the far better documented of the pair; the reasons being that it was the first to come into being, it was in service for much longer, and, if you know where to look, there are still one or two traces of it to be seen.
Having said that, the Great Northern London Cemetery Company is equally fascinating and worthy of attention.
I thought it would be interesting therefore, to examine the two together.
Background: London's Burial Crisis
By the early 19th century, London was the world’s largest metropolis, its population having been pushed into the millions by the Industrial Revolution which was in full, smoky flow.
This burgeoning growth and overcrowding fuelled an array of societal ills; namely poverty, disease and appalling sanitation- and that’s before you even begin to factor in the perilous working conditions which many had to endure.
All of this contributed to an alarmingly high mortality rate. In 1850 the average life expectancy for men was just 40, with women faring little better at 42.
With legalised cremation still some decades off, it’s not surprising therefore that the cramped little graveyards clustered around London’s parochial churches struggled to cope with this rapidly increasing death toll.
By the 1830s they were facing a crisis.
In an attempt to alleviate the problem, Parliament passed a bill in 1832 which encouraged the establishment of larger, private cemeteries on the outskirts of the city.
This resulted in the opening of what some have nicknamed ‘The Magnificent Seven’: Starting with Kensal Green cemetery in 1833, West Norwood in 1837, Highgate, Abney Park, Brompton and Nunhead in 1840 and Tower Hamlets in 1841.
Despite this measure, graveyards in central London continued to pack corpses in and the situation deteriorated even further in the 1840s when a cholera outbreak resulted in the deaths of over 10,000 Londoners.
To make matters worse, gravediggers were forced to claw back space by piling coffins on top of one another; a process known as ‘bedding up.’
This of course meant that many caskets were far closer to the surface than was healthy; in some instances the soil barely covered them.
One snapshot of this grim period comes from 1845, when it was reported that, on just a single day, 30 funerals took place at Spa Fields burial ground in Clerkenwell.
So desperate was the situation at Spa Fields, it was claimed local residents were unable to remain in their homes due to the “continual stench.”
A City for the Dead: Envisioning the London Necropolis Railway
In the midst of this burial crisis, two entrepreneurs named Richard Broun and Richard Spry came up with what they deemed to be the perfect solution: a mega-cemetery- a ‘City for the Dead’- as they coined it- which would be a considerable distance from London, but linked to the capital via its own railway, upon which both coffins and mourners would be conveyed.
Broun and Spry consolidated this idea into the ‘London Necropolis and National Mausoleum Company’, with a view to locating the vast cemetery at Brookwood in Surrey, 27 miles (43 km) south-west of London.
As Brookwood was located directly alongside the tracks of the South-Western Railway (which had opened in the 1830s to connect Southampton and London), it was figured the funeral trains could use the same line, operating from their own private terminus close to Waterloo Station (which, at the time, was officially titled ‘Waterloo Bridge Station’).
In January 1850, a meeting to discuss the idea with Brookwood’s residents was held at the Railway Hotel on Guildford Road, Woking- which still exists today, having been renamed ‘The Sovereigns’.
In front of a large crowd- and facing what was no doubt a tough sell- Richard Broun detailed the proposal with typical Victorian pomp:
“The object of this company, as the name implies, is to furnish London with that which is at length felt by all classes of the community to be a great and crying desideratum- namely a ‘CITY FOR THE DEAD’- at such a distance from the metropolis as public health requires; upon a scale of magnitude commensurate with a population rapidly increasing, which already exceeds 2,250,000 souls; and at such charges as shall be consistent with the utmost possible economy…”
This idea gained traction in 1852 when Parliament introduced the ‘Burial Act’ which forbade the digging of any further graves within London’s densely crammed churchyards.
Then, on the 30 June of that same year, a second act was passed which granted the London Necropolis and National Mausoleum Company the go-ahead to create Brookwood Cemetery, over what was originally intended to be an area spanning 2,000 acres.
Establishing The Great Northern London Cemetery
The Great Northern London Cemetery Company, meanwhile was founded in 1855, less than a year after its southern counterpart began operating.
Clearly inspired by the Waterloo to Brookwood line, this was a joint venture between the Great Northern Railway (who’d began operating trains out of Kings Cross is the early 1850s) and the Colney Hatch Company, who’d acquired a plot of land near, unsurprisingly, Colney Hatch which today comes under the London Borough of Barnet.
The Great Northern London Cemetery Company announced itself to the world in the summer of 1855 by opening an office at 122 High Holborn.
In their prospectus, it was stated that they’d been formed “for the establishment of a large extramural Cemetery” and that “one hundred and sixty acres of land have been secured for that purpose on the line of the Great Northern Railway, within seven miles of London.”
This plot of land- which is now occupied by New Southgate Cemetery- was tiny when compared to the huge site at Brookwood.
However, as the distance between King’s Cross and Colney Hatch was a lot shorter- a 15 minute journey as opposed to the near 40 minutes it took between Waterloo and Brookwood- it was figured costs could be kept far lower.
This was a driving factor, and one that would see the company gear themselves towards providing funerals for London’s poorer inhabitants, many of who had been struggling to meet funeral costs after the ban on inner city burials had resulted in making the process a lot more expensive.
This impact was described by the London Daily News in September 1855:
“Under any circumstances a funeral is an expensive affair, but the consequence of the removal of the cemeteries is to inflict upon the poor man a burden which he finds it most difficult to bear.
This is felt so acutely, that it is not at all an uncommon sight to see a coffin placed on top of a cab, and conveyed in this manner to its last destination…
“The curse of the expense of funerals is in fact multiplied to poor men by recent regulations.
Under these circumstances, we look with interest to the establishment of a company which promises to diminish the expenses of funerals in general, and to offer a means whereby the tedium of following a corpse for hours to the grave may be avoided.
The Great Northern London Cemetery Company have taken a large tract of land at Colney Hatch, about seven miles from London, accessible on all sides by public roads, and close to a railway station.
It is this latter feature which will render the cemetery a boon to the lower classes. The transit will occupy only 15 minutes, and the expense will be comparatively trifling.
This is the only cemetery north of the Thames which possesses the advantage of direct railway transit. For the sake of the poor of the metropolis, it is hoped the undertaking may succeed.”
Opposition to Necropolis Railways
As they sought to establish themselves, both the London Necropolis Company and the Great Northern Cemetery Company faced opposition from certain quarters.
With regard to the London Necropolis Company, The Bishop of London, Charles James Blomfield was appalled at the idea, stating that the speed and noise associated with railway travel would be “an affront to the burial process.”
Also in opposition was the great philanthropist, Anthony Ashley-Cooper; the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury (to who the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain at Piccadilly Circus- colloquially known as ‘Eros’ is dedicated).
He was dubious of the London Necropolis Company’s financial projections, stating that, to cover their expenses, they would have to secure some 30 to 40,000 corpses every year.
Lord Shaftesbury also voiced concern regarding the storage of bodies awaiting transport, as a number of arches stretching from Westminster Bridge Road to Waterloo station had been designated for this role.
As the company were contracted to bury paupers- who, sadly, would be of a very low priority- it was assumed that many such bodies would be left to linger within the arches for days on end.
Unsurprisingly, those living around Waterloo were deeply hostile to this set-up, primarily due to fear of disease.
It must also be remembered that in the 1850s, the Thames- which is very close to Waterloo- was a putrid, open sewer and so the prospect of that, combined with so many unburied dead in close proximity must have been nothing short of horrifying.
There were calls from locals to move the corpse-storage further down the line to the now long-lost Nine Elms depot (close to present day Vauxuall), but this, along with their fears were dismissed, as were Lord Shaftesbury’s concerns.
Also hostile to funerals by rail were the city’s more traditional undertakers.
The London Necropolis Railway could be seen, in modern parlance, as a ‘disruptor’, and there were deep concerns from many smaller businesses that they’d be forced to fold.
Their fears were stoked by the press, who largely supported the London Necropolis Railway and took to slandering smaller family outfits.
The London & Southwark Advertiser for example declared that:
“The friends of the dead have, in the London Necropolis Company, a number of gentlemen who defend them from the extortion of undertakers… the low class of undertakers of course oppose this company, but that is a reason why the public should patronise it.”
The Great Northern Cemetery Company meanwhile faced opposition from a number of burial boards in north London; namely Marylebone, St Pancras and Islington.
In response to the 1852 ban on burials in central London, these districts had also invested in larger plots of land further out, and now felt the Great Northern Cemetery was about to undercut them, thus making their own cemeteries superfluous.
As such, in February 1855, a delegation representing these areas met the Bishop of London at his residence on St James’s Square to voice their concerns- with which the Bishop apparently agreed: according to the Morning Advertiser he said the Colney Hatch Cemetery and its associated railway were “not wanted.”
Things grew more heated in April 1855 when a meeting was held at the Board of Health on Whitehall between representatives of the Great Northern Cemetery and deputations from the burial boards of St Pancras, Marylebone and Islington.
Here, it was reported that “a somewhat desultory conversation took place” in which those from St Pancras, Marylebone and Islington demanded compensation for their projected losses.
The tense session broke up without agreement.
Incidentally, this debate was overseen by Sir Benjamin Hall, who some say is the figure after who Westminster’s Big Ben bell is nicknamed- although there are other contenders for that accolade.
Despite opposition, Parliament passed a Bill in June 1855 which allowed the creation of the Great Northern Cemetery to commence.
Opening Brookwood Cemetery
Brookwood Cemetery was officially consecrated on Tuesday 7th November 1854.
That day, at 12.30pm, a special train departed Waterloo, carrying 100 shareholders and other interested parties. The ceremony was conducted by the Bishop of Winchester, Charles Sumner.
Funerals began a few days later on the 13th November.
Sadly, the very first booking on the London Necropolis Railway was for a pair of stillborn twins, their parents being a Mr and Mrs Hore of Ewer Street, Borough. The family were desperately impoverished, meaning the parish of St Saviour’s Southwark paid for the babies’ funeral.
Opening The Great Northern London Cemetery
The Great Northern Cemetery was consecrated seven years later on Wednesday 17th July 1861 by the Bishop of Rochester.
A brief report regarding the event said that the grounds consisted of 142 acres when opened; 98 acres of which were for the Church of England and 44 for Nonconformists.
It was also noted that the cemetery was “pleasantly situated and laid out with great taste.”
One particular funeral conducted by the Great Northern Cemetery Company in December 1861 was very large indeed. This was for a Mr James Roe, who had once been a Grand Master in the Odd Fellows fraternity. It was reported that 800 people attended his funeral, travelling on a 24 carriage funeral train.
Another interesting funeral occurred the following October when a former stage-coach magnate named Edward Sherman was laid to rest.
Sherman was 90 years old and, as one report noted, was born when King George III was still young.
The same report also opined that it was somewhat ironic that Sherman’s last journey was by rail; trains having effectivley put his long-distance horse-drawn stage coaches out of business…
As well as conducting funerals of those recently deceased, both companies were also contracted to exhume central London’s crammed graveyards, and to remove the coffins and remains of those who’d died long ago to Brookwood and Colney Hatch.
In this endeavour, the London Necropolis Company removed cadavers from many of the capital’s churches including St-Martins-in-the-Fields, St Anne’s Soho, St Pancras and the now lost Wild Street chapel which stood on Drury Lane.
The Great Northern Cemetery company meanwhile were paid £950 by the Metropolitan Board of Works (which is around £115,000 in today’s money) to remove bodies from a number of old City Churches that were in the process of being swept away in order to make a path for Queen Victoria Street.
Other innovations by the London Necropolis Company included funeral insurance and, in the 1870s, a very forward thinking bio-degradable casket dubbed the ‘Earth to Earth’ coffin, examples of which were displayed in their offices on Lancaster Place and Kennington Road.
At Brookwood Cemetery
At Brookwood, 500 acres of land were initially prepared by planting 1,500 trees and erecting some four miles of fencing, thus making it the largest cemetery in the world at the time- and it remains the UK’s biggest today.
The landscaping and architectural duties were shared by renowned engineers, William Tite, William Cubitt and Sydney Smirke
The most intriguing aspect at Brookwood was its 3/4 mile long branch line, which peeled off from the tracks and trundled through the grounds of the Necropolis itself.
Although the rails have long since vanished, it’s still possible today to trace their route.
This short line served two stations within the cemetery: these being the South Station, which dealt with the funerals of those belonging to the anglican faith, and the North Station which handled Nonconformists and those of other religious beliefs.
In Brookwood’s early days, the London Necropolis Railway’s funeral cars would be decoupled once leaving the main line and towed through cemetery by horses.
Later however, steam engines were permitted to slowly chug along the cemetery line.
Both the North and South Stations had their own licensed bars which became popular not only with mourners, but also local residents who’d enjoy popping in for a snifter.
There’s also at least one tale of a London Necropolis Railway engine driver who imbibed so much whilst waiting, he ended up too drunk to take his train back to Waterloo!
Today, only the platform of the South Station remains.
Alongside it is a modern building; the Church of St Edward the Martyr, Brookwood which is home to a small Brotherhood of Russian Orthodox monks. The north station is marked by a large patch of overgrown grass.
At the Great Northern London Cemetery
The Great Northern Cemetery’s Colney Hatch station was located on a siding situated parallel to the mainline.
Unlike the London Necropolis Railway at Brookwood, the Great Northern Cemetery line didn’t run directly through the cemetery itself.
Instead, a small fleet of horse-drawn hearses were on hand to meet trains, take delivery of the coffins from the platform and then haul them on the short walk towards the final resting place.
In April 1861 several of these hearses were displayed at the Eleventh Annual Architectural Exhibition, held on Conduit Street in Mayfair.
They were described being made of oak, with carvings picked out in black, white and grey, along with wrought iron fittings and spring suspension. The hearses were designed by the architect Edmund Spurr, who was also responsible for all of the cemetery’s associated buildings.
Spurr is also buried within the cemetery he helped to forge.
The cemetery station itself was designed in a gothic style and contained a chapel and waiting rooms.
A description of the building appeared in The Eclectic Review shortly after the line opened.
“With the arrangements for transit and reception we were abundantly satisfied. We were conducted to two chapels, and informed that both were for Nonconformists: they seemed to us as grim and ungraceful, and suggestive or mortuary and vault like associations, as such buildings usually are.”
The old Cemetery station was demolished at the turn of the 20th century and sadly no trace of it remains- although Edmund Spurr’s rather handsome church still holds pride of place in the middle of what’s now New Southgate Cemetery.
The London Necropolis Railway: First Waterloo Terminal
In its 87 year history, the London Necropolis Company had two different terminals near Waterloo.
The first was a three storey building constructed at a cost of £23,251.
This was located at the south-eastern end of present day Leake Street, just south of the approach to the main Waterloo terminal.
It had its own private access road, via which coffins were delivered.
The company usually referred to this as their ‘Westminster Bridge Station’, although employees had a far more grisly name for it: they called it ‘The Corpse Station.’
The station had one platform and two sidings which were perched up on the highest level. Coffins were transferred up to awaiting trains via a steam-powered lift.
Below the platforms, on the second floor, were the waiting rooms and a workshop. A board room was also located here, although the company also maintained offices a short distance away on Lancaster Place, just north of Waterloo Bridge.
The ground floor meanwhile presented visitors with a grand entrance hall and staircase.
The London Necropolis Company were on call 24/7, although in its early days those wishing to book a funeral were advised to give 48 hours notice.
Trains departed daily at 11.20am (sometimes given as 11.30am) and, as with conventional rail travel at the time, three classes were offered.
In typical Victorian fashion, this social hierarchy extended to the corpses themselves, who were tagged with a one-way ticket and slid into the relevant class onboard the coffin car.
In November 1854, a first class funeral on the London Necropolis Railway was priced at £21, 14 shillings and tuppence, a second class funeral was £15, 8 shillings and tuppence, whilst third class was £11, 10 shillings and tuppence.
In very approximate terms, these prices today would equate to £1,770, £1,240 and £930 respectively.
As a means of comparing these costs with those of more traditional undertakers of the period, a company named Sinclair and Son, who were based in Finsbury, had their most expensive funeral priced at £28 and 10 shillings- roughly £2,290 in today’s money.
Depending on what class you opted for, the London Necropolis Railway’s price structure covered the cost of the undertaker, embalming, railway travel, a plot, headstone and statue.
The travel costs for four mourners were included in the price, but adjusted accordingly should more or fewer people wish to take the train from Waterloo to Brookwood.
In February 1893, the London Necropolis Railway allowed a journalist- known only as ‘L.S’ to spend the day observing their operations.
Upon arrival at the station, L.S was shown 300 empty coffins, stacked up and ready for emergencies- the most common of which was the ‘hotel death.’ When this occurred undertakers would head to the scene with one of these coffins late at night, so as to avoid alarming other guests.
The journalist also described the lift which was capable of heaving up up to a score of coffins.
This task commenced at 11am, and the lift was powered by “turning a great wheel”, with the operator:
“Taking painful slowness…stopping every now and again, with the 20 corpses overhead in mid-air, to doff his cap, to blow, to mop his brow, or to stretch his back.”
On the funeral train itself, L.S reported that 25 coffins were carried that day, all of which were third class.
When asked wether or not the job was boring, the engine driver gave a fascinating answer, much of which still resonates today:
“Well, I don’t know. I sometimes have a scene on the platform before we start.
Perhaps the relatives quarrel over the will; perhaps if the widower has been a bad husband to the wife he is about to bury, the womenfolk make things very lively for him while perhaps it is the widow who has been bad to her husband, and who comes in for the bullying.
Oh, there’s lots of human nature to be seen on that platform I tell you.”
The King's Cross Cemetery Terminal
In a way similar to the Necropolis station at Waterloo, the funeral terminal for the Great Northern Cemetery was located just outside of King’s Cross.
In this case, it was situated on Rufford Street, just off of present day York Way- which was originally named Maiden Lane and later, York Road.
At the time, this locale was known as ‘Belle Isle’ which, in the 19th century was considered a desperately poor district; home to navvies, cabmen and porters.
Chemical plants, carpet beaters and horse knackers yards also abounded- as late as the 1890s, it was said that “Belle Isle is now and always has been the chief seat of the London horse slaughterers.”
Even today, this area has a rather industrial and desolate feel to it; an atmosphere compounded by the long abandoned York Road tube station which sits quietly nearby.
Bearing this in mind, the North London Cemetery station must have made quite an impression when it first opened, for it was a large, church like building complete with a spire- albeit a rather short and chunky one.
It could be argued in fact, that its design was rather more grand than its Waterloo counterpart.
The King’s Cross funeral station, which was managed by a gentleman named James Farraro, was the opposite to the Necropolis at Waterloo in that the railway line was situated below rather than above.
Once received therefore, coffins were placed on a hydraulic lift and transferred below ground to a mortuary where they would await transport.
Because the Great North Cemetery service was primarily aimed at poorer families, this mortuary was a major innovation- at the time, it was not uncommon for bodies to be kept in the home for days on end whilst the funeral costs were scraped together.
Storage in the mortuary, which was kept cool by an innovative air system, was free of charge, which no doubt made the world of difference to many families.
Prices were far cheaper too; the Great Northern Cemetery’s most expensive funeral was priced, in 1865, at £8 and 8 shillings, whilst their cheapest was £2 and 2 shillings.
The King’s Cross Cemetery station was demolished in the early 1960s, and barely any trace of it now remains; the site is now occupied by a cement works.
If you’re on a train however, it is possible to glimpse an old brick retaining wall as you whoosh past. That wall, and the building itself, can be clearly seen on the left hand side in this footage from the 1950s:
Also, if you look very, very closely, it would also appear that you can just about spot it in the classic 1955 Ealing Comedy, The Ladykillers which was famously filmed in and around what was then a very sooty and grimy Kings Cross…
The London Necropolis Railway: Second Terminal
By the late 19th century, Waterloo station was expanding rapidly and this threatened to swallow up the London Necropolis Railway’s terminal.
It was therefore agreed to relocate a short distance to a spot on nearby Westminster Bridge Road- the building of which can still be seen today.
And if you look carefully when coming into Waterloo, you can also spot the spur track which once led towards the building.
This new terminal was designed by Cyril Bazett Tubs at a cost of £43,494 and opened in 1902.
Shortly after its inauguration, The South London Chronicle provided an insightful tour of the new premises:
“The new building is entered by a handsome archway. Inside, the stairs, balustrades, and panelling are of the finest English oak, and the effect is rich and pleasing to a degree. On the ground floor is an enquiry office and waiting room.
Upstairs is the General Office and Counting House, with the Manager’s parlour opening out, and other offices.
Ascending by a further flight of stairs to the Board Room (a most pleasant and luxurious room) we come to a light apartment, where draughtsmen are at work on the various plans and maps of the estate, and the private office of the estate agent, who has himself designed the buildings and railway station which form the subject of this article.
All the arrangements of the premises are so controlled as to ensure complete privacy for the funerals which take place from here. Directly the carriages pass through the archway, they are beyond the public gaze, and the glass-roofed station yard, with its white tiled walls and rows of palms and bay trees, produces anything but a morbid effect.
Several mortuary chambers are provided on the ground level, and these are already providing a long-felt want in the city where deaths so often occur in hotels and lodgings, where it is impossible for the body to remain.
For funeral parties ample provision is made in the way of waiting rooms so that friends can assemble with as much comfort as in a private house. On the right-hand side of the platform is a most sumptuous private chapel, with a handsome oak catafalque in the centre, and oak stalls for clergy and congregation. In this a coffin might lie in a certain degree of state until the time of burial.
As for the platform running into the premises, the funeral trains draw up alongside the waiting rooms, and mourners pass straight into the reserved carriages, and the train starts on its 40 minutes’ journey to Woking.
No detail has been overlooked that could possibly assist in the quiet and decorous conduct of the funeral from the London Necropolis Station, and the arrangements are such that two or three funerals may travel by the same train without one party being conscious of the presence of the other.”
Demise of The Great Northern Cemetery's Railway
The Great Northern Cemetery’s railway service was very short lived.
Initially, they had intended to run regular trains on a daily basis, although this plan quickly crumbled, leading to just two services a week; and even that soon became irregular.
By the early 1870s, funeral trains between Kings Cross and Colney Hatch had ceased altogether.
The reasons for this aren’t exactly clear, although it would seem the short distance, which was initially considered a plus was maybe a factor in its demise, as rather than encouraging people to go by train, plenty were content to have processions travel to the cemetery by road instead.
The company’s reputation appears to have been tainted somewhat in the mid 1860s too with the revelation that a number of pauper’s funerals were conducted in the most disrespectful manner.
One article from October 1866 reported on a poor woman who’d lost two of her children in July:
“She and her relatives accompanied the bodies to the Great Northern Cemetery in a Shillibeer hearse. Underneath the carriage in which they sat were seven bodies; two more were under the driver’s seat and two more behind in a cart. The bodies were, with one exception, those of persons who had died of cholera… Matter oozed from one of the coffins and the stench was fearful.
At the cemetery no funeral service was performed, the bodies being merely put on the ground and covered over. The bodies were actually ‘buried’ above the level of the ground…”
End of the London Necropolis Railway
In the early 20th century, the Necropolis Railway saw a rise in numbers when a crematorium was opened at Woking, and in the wake of the First World War, Brookwood Cemetery became the final resting place for 1,600 British and Commonwealth troops.
468 American personnel were also interred in Brookwood’s war cemetery.
Despite this, the London Necropolis Railway’s fortunes were flagging and the service, as predicted by Lord Shaftesbury many years previously, never lived up to its projected numbers.
There was considerable drama at the Westminster Bridge Road station one night in March 1929 when a Dundee-born policeman named David Ford fell to his death whilst chasing a suspected burglar across the glass roof.
Although the criminal dashed across, the glass cracked when PC Ford attempted the same route, sending him crashing 40 ft to the concrete yard below.
It would be the second world war that would eventually spell the end of the London Necropolis Railway.
During an air-raid on the the night of 16-17 April 1941, the Westminster Bridge Road station was pounded by explosives, destroying infrastructure and rolling stock beyond repair.
The service managed to limp on for a few more weeks by relocating to a platform at Waterloo itself but, on 11 May 1941, the funeral line to Brookwood was officially closed.
The last recorded funeral carried by the service was that of a Chelsea Pensioner named Edward Irish.
Despite the closure of the line, the bar in Brookwood’s south station remained in service until the 1960s.
The London Necropolis Company also continued to conduct funerals by road until they finally folded for good in 1975.
In Britain, coffins continued to be carried by rail until the 1980s.
This included two state funerals- that of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965 and Earl Mountbatten in 1979, both of which departed, rather fittingly from Waterloo.
As of writing, the last UK funeral service to be carried by rail was that of trade unionist, Jimmy Knapp whose coffin was transported from Euston to Glasgow in August 2001.