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The Brookwood Necropolis Railway An Introduction to Brookwood Cemetery The Columbarium, Brookwood Cemetery The Glades of Remebrance, Brookwood Cemetery The Bisley Camp Branch Line

John Clarke

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News 2018

This page posts news and comments about my continuing research into Brookwood Cemetery and related topics.

For earlier news items, see my News pages for 2017, 2016 and 2015

L’incredibile storia della London Necropolis Railway (20 January)

The Necropolis Station and the BBC World Service (25 January)

Remembering the SS Tuscania (5 February)

The Trial of Edith Thompson Revisited (2 March)

Rex v Edith Thompson (10 March)

Send Evening WI (28 March)

Under by David Wailing (April)

Frederick W Paine: Historical Lecture Series 2018 (19 April)

Update on London’s Necropolis (20 April)

Coffin Ticket Realises £300 at Auction (21 April)

Dracula Society Lecture (2 June)

London’s Necropolis Published (12 June)

Frederick Paine’s New Window Display (3 July)

Dracula Society Visit to Brookwood Cemetery (8 July)

L’incredibile storia della London Necropolis Railway

I’ve been assisting Luigi Ladisa for an article posted on the Londonerd website on the Brookwood Cemetery Railway.

The article was posted on 20 January and is in Italian. It is further proof of the enduring interest in the railway funeral service not only here but overseas.

The Necropolis Station and the BBC World Service

I was interviewed by Pandita Lorenz outside 121 Westminster Bridge Road this afternoon for a programme yet to be broadcast on the BBC World Service.

121 Westminster Bridge Road

This is the first time I've revisited the former private station since the new hotel building (to the left of the entrance) has been completed. We did not have time to describe the surviving relics of the station at the back of the premises (off Newnham Terrace).

I was amused to be told that as Pandita and Tim (the photographer) were travelling onto Brookwood Cemetery, and planned to film scenery from the train, they had to be accompanied by the Press Officer from South Western Railways. I was even more amused to discover the said Press Officer had never heard of the Necropolis Train!

The date of the broadcast has yet to be confirmed.

Remembering the SS Tuscania

SS Tuscania

The BBC reports on a Service of Commemoration to remember those American servicemen who lost their lives on the troopship SS Tuscania 100 years ago. The service took place on the Isle of Islay.

The Tuscania, carrying over 2,200 soldiers, was sunk by UB-77 in the Irish Sea, some seven miles south-west of Islay. Although most of those on board survived, over 200 men lost their lives. Some of these casualties were subsequently buried in the American Military Cemetery at Brookwood. Only one of the American soldiers remains on Islay: Private Roy Muncaster.

In 1919, the American Government erected a memorial to those who lost their lives on the southern tip of the island.

The Trial of Edith Thompson Revisited

Edith and Percy ThompsonThe trial of Edith Thompson has been revisited by the BBC in episode five of its new series Murder, Mystery and My Family.

In the programme, barristers Jeremy Dein and Sasha Wass reassess a tragic case of love, infidelity, and murder that resulted in the conviction and execution of Edith Thompson.

However, now in 2017 Edith’s cousin Nicki Toay, has questions about how safe the original conviction of Edith was.

The programme is currently available on the BBC i-player until 29 March.

You can read a contemporary account of the trial edited by Filson Young Trial of Frederick Bywaters and Edith Thompson (London: Butterworth, 1923).

Rex v. Edith Thompson

Rex v Edith Thompson by Laura ThompsonFollowing on from the BBC programme referred to above is the appearance of this new account of the Thompson-Bywaters case.

Written by Laura Thompson (no relation), Rex v. Edith Thompson was published on 8 March. The blurb states that, “In shattering detail and with masterful emotional insight, Laura Thompson charts the course of a liaison with thrice-fatal consequences, and investigates what the trial and execution of Edith Thompson tell us about perceptions of women in early twentieth-century Britain.”

Laura Thompson is stated to be the first person to have full access to the hitherto closed Home Office files on the case and the author appears unconvinced about all previous accounts of the horrific circumstances of Edith Thompson’s execution.

The publication of this new and compelling account of the life, loves and execution of Edith Thompson, the first major biography since Rene Weis’s Criminal Justice (1988), shows that this story continues to fascinate.

Press cutting of Edith Thompson's execution

Reviews of Rex v. Edith Thompson have appeared in the Big Issue and the Evening Standard.

You can read a contemporary account of the trial edited by Filson Young Trial of Frederick Bywaters and Edith Thompson (London: Butterworth, 1923).

Send Evening WI: 28 March

Church Rooms SendAn enjoyable evening speaking to members of the Send Evening WI on the history of Brookwood Cemetery.

The Evening WI meets in the Church Rooms in Send Village.

Under by David Wailing

Under by David WailingI was delighted to receive a signed copy of David Wailing’s latest novel in the post. He comments that my Brookwood Necropolis Railway “was a real inspiration” for his novel.

The blurb states “Nobody ever sees the abandoned ‘ghost stations’ of the London Underground. Nobody except Jake’s crew of urban explorers. They think they’re infiltrating another disused Tube station tonight, but he hasn’t told them the truth. Jake is haunted by a secret. An untold history that connects Black Death plague pits, the Necropolis Railway, the Moorgate disaster and some of London’s darkest legends. Tonight, Jake will discover what’s under the Underground. What’s under us all.”

David is using Kindle Direct Publishing to produce is book. This means that Kindle Direct will print and deliver individual copies of the paperback on request. This means you can order it directly from Amazon. The book is available at the introductory price of £7.99 in the UK, €8.99 in Europe and $8.99 in the US.

The Kindle eBook version of Under is also still available from the same page on Amazon.

Signal Failure, a short story which serves as a prelude to Under, remains permanently free to download from Amazon, Nook, Kobo and iTunes. Signal Failure also appears as the opening section in Under.

Frederick W Paine: Historical Lecture Series 2018

This year’s lectures at Frederick W Paine, Kingston, have no been finalised. You can also download a copy of this poster:

Historical lecture series Frederick W Paine 2018

Update on London’s Necropolis: 20 April

Londons Necropolis by John ClarkeAn unexpected parcel received today was my advance copy of London’s Necropolis.

My publishers have confirmed that the main shipment is now en route from China to the UK with an anticipated publication date of mid-May.

This has been the longest journey with any of my books, but I can assure you the finished tome has been well worth the wait.

Here is the back cover, which is similar to that of the first edition.

Coffin Ticket Realises £300 at Auction: 21 April

Southern Railway coffin ticket

Lot 72 at today’s Paddington Ticket Auction was an unissued Southern Railway third class coffin ticket partly overprinted “Specimen” and numbered 0000. It sold for £300. In January 2011 an audit copy (without the overprint) of a similar ticket sold for £520.

Paddington Ticket Auctions specialise in rail, tram and bus tickets, railway letter, parcels and newspaper stamps, labels and other transport ephemera. They hold regular auctions at the Royal National Hotel off Russell Square. The catalogue for the April 2018 auction can be viewed here.

Dracula Society Lecture: 2 June

This evening (which was very hot) I gave a lecture on the Necropolis Railway to members of the Dracula Society.

This meeting was held in the Function Room of The Rugby Tavern in Bloomsbury, which brought back happy memories for me as I used to work close by.

The meeting was very well attended and there were lots of questions. I look forward to hosting a walk for the Society next month.

London’s Necropolis Published! 12 June

Londons Necropolis by John ClarkeAt long last, and after several delays (the final one caused by the consignment being sent to the wrong publishers), the new expanded edition of London’s Necropolis is available.

As previously noted, this has been the longest journey with any of my books, but I can assure you the finished tome has been well worth the wait.

Further information on the new edition are posted here.

Copies can be ordered direct from the publishers, Stenlake Publishing, and you can order a copy here (post free to UK addresses).

Signed copies can be supplied by contacting me direct.

Frederick Paine’s New Window Display: 3 July

Many thanks to my friends at Frederick Paine’s in Kingston for their new window display promoting my book. If you happen to be in Kingston, you may like to take a look.

Dracula Society Visit to Brookwood Cemetery: 8 July

Following on from my lecture, a scorching Sunday 8 July saw members of the Dracula Society congregating on the concourse at Waterloo Station for their visit to Brookwood Cemetery. However before boarding our train, we first looked at the remains of the former private terminus at 12 Westminster Bridge Road. Later, at the cemetery, we largely followed the route of the railway through the cemetery grounds, finishing at the site of South Station. We were also afforded access to the Exhibition Room and inside the church courtesy of the St Edward Brotherhood. Afterwards we adjourned to the Brookwood Cemetery Society’s Lodge for welcome refreshments.

Site of South Station and the Monastic House, Brookwood Cemetery