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It was a difficult time to be alive in 1848 London, and worse still to be dead. A cholera epidemic had just swept through the city killing nearly 15,000 of its inhabitants, and bodies were literally pilling up besides churches waiting to be buried. But there was one problem: there was no space to bury.

The population of London was soaring. In 1801, the city had less than a million people living. In 1851, that figure had more than doubled to almost two and a half million. But the 300 acres allotted for burial space remain unchanged, requiring old graves, and some relatively fresh ones, to be regularly exhumed to make room for new burials. The old corpses were crumpled and scattered contaminating the soil and water supply resulting in fresh bouts of epidemics. Cholera, smallpox, measles, typhoid were pervasive in Victorian London.


A third class coffin ticket issued to passengers of the London Necropolis Railway. Photo credit:

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