A rare 1954 photograph of the Kings Cross cemetery station on Randell’s Road/Rufford Street, replaced in the 1960s by the concrete plant now owned by Cemex. This was the London end of a short lived North London funerary service, rather less successful than its famous south London necropolis cousin. The wedge-shaped half tower, in poor repair here was highly distinctive.
I won’t repeat all the background here as several websites do a great job – this 1954 article from The Railway Magazine, the magnificent Ian Visits, where Ian excelled himself with plans and modern pictures of all the key sites and this lovely synopsis of a talk by Martin Dawes who wrote a book on the railway funerary service, with extract below. It was Martin’s book that tipped me off to the existence of the picture above in the Islington Local History Centre where the staff were enormously helpful in tracking down the picture and scanning it.
‘”The Builder” gave a review shortly after its opening describing the dilapidated surroundings, with mud and squalor all around. The building itself was impressive with an unusual spire at its southern end which was wedge shaped. The entrance was on the upper story which gave direct access from street level. There were separate entrances for coffins and mourners. The platforms were on the lower level, with a flight of stairs for the mourners, and a hydraulic lift for the coffin. A mortuary was provided free of charge by the company in an attempt to encourage the populace to remove bodies quickly from their homes. Within the mortuary, gas jets were continuously lit under exhaust ducts to make sure there was a continuous flow of air – remember these were the days before refrigerators. The lit stained glass windows must have made an impressive sight for passengers coming out of gasworks tunnel during the evening.’