The Final Journey

The Final Journey – the Untold Story of Funeral Trains” was the subject for Nicolas Wheatley on 20th January. Nicolas has, since his last visit, published a book with this title, so this was an intriguing evening with additional anecdotes and interesting facts. Of local interest in 1882 Dean Francis Close, previously Rector of Cheltenham and a leading light in education in the town giving his name to a substantial public school and a further education campus made his final journey by train, travelling from Cornwall to Carlisle, his final resting place, through Cheltenham and passing his school bounded, as it then was on two sides, by the railway. Prime Minister William Gladstone was the first person to have a ceremonial funeral train, travelling in 1898 to Westminster Bridge station, the only time a funeral train has traversed London Underground tracks. The final journey of a former General Secretary of a rail union was notable. The gentleman was not known for being a fan of Virgin Trains. So it was entirely fitting then that his final train journey to Glasgow was on a VT service from Euston! Railway divisional rivalry was put to one side when Sir Winston Churchill’s train was hauled to Oxfordshire by Bulleid Pacific 34051 Winston Churchill and returned to London with Cl.52 diesel D1015 Western Champion.