LONDON'S HOME FOR IMMERSIVE THEATRE AND ALTERNATIVE ARTS
TALES OF THE VAULTS: A HISTORY - PART 2
1 May 2014
Written by Emma
PART 2 - THE DEATH LINE
In the first half of the 19th century, London faced an overcrowding of its cemeteries. As the number of inhabitants increasingly grew, the number of London corpses requiring disposal rose. Before long, there were not enough available graves. To bury their beloved ones, Londoners required vaults already in use to be emptied and re-claimed. Exposed bones and decomposed bodies left uncared for in churchyards became a sanitary threat. The resulting cholera outbreak of 1848-49, which killed nearly 15,000 Londoners, made it clear that drastic action was needed.
In 1849 Sir Richard Broun proposed to build a big cemetery in the village of Brookwood, far away to prevent a new epidemic. It would be linked to the city centre by train. The London Necropolis Company was born and Waterloo was about to become the starting point of a journey to an alternative London - for the dead. Soon renamed the "dead meat train" or the stiffs' express" by the locals, the world's first rail service to the after world ironically featured a first, second, and third class for more convenience. Before it was moved to another location in 1902, the original London Necropolis railway terminus was based... just a few meters away from The Vaults, in Leake Street.
And maybe, if you dare venturing in our tunnels at night, you will find something there remaining from that funeral past...