I just couldn’t resist this in answer to Claudia’s prompt on Dverse…
The pauper and the Spanish gentleman,
a seamstress, apprentice, clerk and engineer;
the builder, inn-keeper, much loved wife;
a flower girl, a thief, doctor and solicitor
slumber side by side, shuffle
to the rhythm of wheel on steel rail.
Steam whispers in through rail car
slats, sooty, damp, grey.
Drunkard, laggard, abstainer, the bully,
brought to the same end as the gentle, the
caring, the feeble, the strong. Swathed, snug in satin
or wrapped thinly, bouncing against cheap pine,
they jostle, rich against poor, good next to bad,
the uncaring, the pure, close enough to touch
but beyond touching, past knowing, levelled
by death, travelling in the coffin train.
In the carriages of the living, niceties continue.
The rich turn their backs on all but their friends.
The poor shrivel, at pains to cause no trouble ‘ere sir. Their
carriages separated by iron junctions. Wooden seated
or velvety cushioned, Brookwood cares for neither-
the only distinction – sunny south for Anglicans, gloomy
north for the rest. On today’s train, be-furred, bejewelled
will wait, while poor and poorer alight in warmth.
and the unscrupulous, mourning clad,
clutching bags of clubs-
golfers – glad of the cheap run to the country,
hop the cemetery pales
and make off to play the greens!
Brookwood Necropolis was set up by law to alleviate the pressure on burial space in central London. In 1854, it opened its gates and cemetery trains began to run daily from a dedicated platform at Waterloo Station to take coffins and mourners the 25 miles into the Surrey countryside for burial. There were two platforms at the destination – the South for the consecrated (Anglican) , the North for the rest. Although there were 1st, 2nd and 3rd class carriages for the mourners, the coffins all travelled together in the same car regardless of status – a previously unheard of idea for the times.
The area around Brookwood was populated by golf clubs of fame and because the fare was cheaper on the coffin train, golfers would dress as mourners, then, on arrival, climb over the cemetery walls and make their way , clubs in hand, to their games.