The offices that were once a railway station for the dead

Posted by Colin

This beautiful building at 121 Westminster Bridge Road, close to Waterloo station, stands out a mile as it is surrounded by horrible, soulless office blocks. Its own façade had obviously been more carefully considered.

Its ornateness is due to the fact these offices were once home to the London terminus of the Necropolis Railway – a train line that used to ferry the Capital’s dead 30 miles out of town to Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey.

When opened in 1854, Brookwood was the largest cemetery in the world and took up the slack when London’s own cemeteries were full to bursting. Despite its distance, it was quicker to reach by train than some of London’s cemeteries were by horse and cart. Brookwood remains Britain’s largest cemetery today.

The building in this picture is actually the second London station built for the Necropolis Railway – the first was closed due to the expansion of Waterloo station. 121 Westminster Bridge Road was bought in 1899 for £5,500 and construction cost just under £45,000 (or around £3.5 million today). The building was designed by Cyril Bazett Tubbs and was specifically intended to be attractive rather than solemn – a fact that still marks it out today.

The railway carried on its duties until 1941 when a bomb caused damage to large parts of station – it was declared closed on 11 May 1941. Today the original stone carved words of “London Necropolis” are hidden and the building serves as the offices of Transmarine Shipping Agencies Limited.

And so the transportation of a very different kind of cargo is now co-ordinated from this beautiful building whose unique history lies hidden to the thousands who walk past it everyday.


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