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London cemetery makes way for rail expansion

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London cemetery makes way for rail expansion

Postby Roderick Smith » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:31 pm

March 20 2017 Dig underway for Matthew Flinders in old London cemetery.
London has a long history of digging up burial grounds to lay rail lines.
Sometimes it has done so with respect, but other times it has left behind – in the gruesome words of famous English author Thomas Hardy - "human jam".
Paul Brunton, curator of the State Library of NSW holds up Flinder's logbook at The National Archives in 2003. Photo: Andrew Campbell .
One body that may be disturbed in the name of progress is recognisable to every Australian – explorer Matthew Flinders, the first person to circumnavigate our continent.
Flinders, who was born in Lincolnshire, died in London age 40 from an undiagnosed kidney infection contracted in the tropics and was buried in a churchyard in inner-north London, next door to where Euston station now stands.
A 19th century map a former burial ground next to Euston station in north London where researchers say Matthew Flinders was buried. Photo: Supplied .
But that churchyard is to be dug up as part of the construction of Britain's 'High Speed 2' rail link from Euston to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
The Sunday Times reported that the biggest exhumation in British history, of more than 60,000 bodies, will begin this year.
Helen Glass, lead HS2 archaeologist, told the Times that discovering Flinders's remains will not be easy given the huge number of bodies. Her team's best chance was if they could discover an intact coffin with a metal name plate or some kind of identifiable decoration.
However the story is not as simple as the Times would have it – Flinders' current resting place is a matter of debate.
Euston station in north London. Photo: Supplied .
The burial ground of the parish of St James' Piccadilly was used from 1790 to 1853, and historians estimate tens of thousands of bodies lie there, though only a few dozen headstones remain.
In August 1887 it reopened as St James' Gardens, which it has remained ever since.
Matthew Flinders proved Australia was a continent. Photo: National Archives .
According to experts from the Matthew Flinders Memorial Committee, a group of Australians and Brits who campaigned successfully for a statue of Flinders (and his cat Trim) at Euston, Flinders was indeed interred at the St James' Burial Ground.
However his sister-in-law, Isabella Tyler, visited in 1852 and reported his grave had gone.
Mrs Tyler found "quantities of tombstones and graves with their contents had been carted away as rubbish, among them that of my unfortunate father, thus pursued by disaster after death as in life," Flinders' daughter wrote in a letter.
Research has shown it is almost certain the remains were moved to an unmarked grave, or just dumped a short distance to the east and he now lies either under Euston Station (platforms 12-15) or still under St James' Garden.
In an information paper released last year and updated in February, HS2 promised to treat human remains "with all due dignity, respect and care".According to the official HS2 website the Church of England is being consulted on plans for reburial.
The Church intervened in order to "ensure respectful treatment" – ensuring remains would be removed by hand digging rather than a mechanical excavator.
Flinders, whose name is synonymous with multiple places in Australia, from Flinders Station in Melbourne, to the Flinders Ranges in South Australia and the town of Flinders in Victoria, is not the only famous historical figure in HS2's path.
In 2015 it was reported that Isambard Kingdom Brunel – history's greatest engineer and the architect of Britain's railway system - could be dug up.
His grave lies in Kensal Green Cemetery, which HS2 has acknowledged lies partly within land it intends to use.
Other famous graves there include Harold Pinter and Freddie Mercury.
However at the time HS2 said they were doing "ground investigation" to check if the site they had chosen was free of burials.
A mass grave from the plague years was discovered in the path of the underground Crossrail – aka the Elizabeth Line, due to open this year.
And back in the 1860s St Pancras Station, Euston's close neighbour, was built over a part of St Pancras churchyard, once the primary burial ground for all north London.
Author and poet Thomas Hardy, then a pupil architect, was delegated to ensure the exhumations were carried out with respect.
He later wrote a poem on the topic, The Levelled Churchyard, implying he was not impressed with the result.
"O Passenger, pray list and catch
Our sighs and piteous groans
Half stifled in this jumbled patch
Of wrenched memorial stones!
We late-lamented, resting here,
Are mixed to human jam,
And each to each exclaims in fear:
'I know not which I am!'"
HS2 is also surveying the bat population in the park, in case they also need rehousing.
Archaeologists working at a former burial ground in London hope to find the remains of Matthew Flinders, who led the first circumnavigation of Australia and proved it was a continent.
In what is believed to be the largest ever exhumation in Britain, around 61,000 bodies will be dug up from the site next to Euston Station, with the body of the Royal Navy captain believed to be among them, The Sunday Times newspaper reports.
The dig is being undertaken as part of London's HS2 rail project in which St James' Gardens, a former cemetery, will be destroyed.
Flinders circled mainland Australia as commander of HMS Investigator between 1801 and 1803, charting the coast in detail to make the first full map of Australia.
The navigator and cartographer also came up with the name of "Australia" for the continent.
Lead HS2 archaeologist Helen Glass told The Times that discovering Flinders' remains would not be easy given the large number of bodies.
She said her team's best chance would be if an intact coffin with a metal name plate or other identifiable decoration was found.
Heading back to England in 1803, while England and France were at war, Flinders called at French-controlled Mauritius as his vessel needed urgent repairs.
He thought the scientific nature of his work would ensure safe passage but a suspicious French governor kept him under arrest for more than six years.
Flinders finally reached home in 1810 after a nine-year absence from his wife but he died in 1814 a day after the publication to great acclaim of his work, A Voyage to Terra Australis.
A statue of Flinders is at Euston Station and another is outside the State Library of NSW in Sydney along with his cat Trim who accompanied him on his Australian explorations.
www.theage.com.au/world/dig-underway-fo ... v1noh.html

Grave of explorer Captain Matthew Flinders to be dug up to clear way for rail project.
AAP, News Corp Australia Network Mon.20.3.17.
HE proved Tasmania was an island. He was the first to circumnavigate Australia. Now Captain Matthew Flinders is to be dug up to make room for a rail bypass.
Archaeologists working at a disused cemetery in London hope to find the remains of the English navigator and cartographer who played such a seminal role in the exploration of Australia.
In what is believed to be the largest ever exhumation in Britain, around 61,000 bodies will be dug up from the site next to Euston Station.
The body of the Royal Navy captain is believed to be among them.
The dig is being undertaken as part of London’s HS2 high-speed rail project in which the burial ground of St James’s Gardens will be destroyed.
British explorer Trim, the pet cat of Captain Flinders.
British explorer and navigator Captain Matthew Flinders.
Flinders circled mainland Australia as commander of HMS Investigator between 1801 and 1803, charting the coast in detail to make the first full map of Australia.
The navigator also came up with the name of “Australia” for the continent.
Lead HS2 archaeologist Helen Glass told The Times that discovering Flinder’s remains would not be easy given the large number of bodies.
She said her team’s best chance would be if an intact coffin with a metal name plate or other identifiable decoration was found.
Heading back to England in 1803, while England and France were at war, Flinders called at French-controlled Mauritius as his vessel needed urgent repairs. He thought the scientific nature of his work would ensure safe passage but a suspicious French governor kept him under arrest for more than six years.
It was here that Trim, Flinder’s pet cat since 1799 who featured in much of his writings, disappeared. Flinders suspected he had been stolen and eaten by a hungry slave.
Captain Matthew Flinders look-a-like Dirk Lorenzen holding a ‘Trim’ the cat look-a-like in 2002, before taking part in a re-enactment voyage of Flinders' circumnavigation of Australia.
Flinders finally reached home in 1810 after a nine-year absence from his wife but he died in 1814 a day after the publication to great acclaim of his work, A Voyage to Terra Australis.
In it, he coined the name we use today.
“There is no probability, that any other detached body of land, of nearly equal extent, will ever be found in a more southern latitude; the name Terra Australis will, therefore, remain descriptive of the geographical importance of this country, and of its situation on the globe: it has antiquity to recommend it; and, having no reference to either of the two claiming nations, appears to be less objectionable than any other which could have been selected,” he wrote, before noting: “Had I permitted myself any innovation upon the original term, it would have been to convert it into Australia; as being more agreeable to the ear, and an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the earth.”
A statue of Flinders is at Euston Station and another is outside the State Library of NSW in Sydney along with his cat Trim.
The first complete chart of Australia’s coastline, by Captain Matthew Flinders.
www.heraldsun.com.au/technology/science ... 92e22fc37a
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Re: London cemetery makes way for rail expansion

Postby boronia » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:42 pm

Sydney has at least two stations that are built on old burial grounds.
The Sydney Classic and Antique Truck (and Bus) Show
On again May 2017
@ The Museum of Fire.
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