2019-01-19

The Observer: "All stations to regeneration? Work on HS2 begins in earnest"


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"The wealthy inhabitants of 18th-century Piccadilly dug deep when choosing a resting place in the new, overflow St James burial ground in Camden: the less likely to be disturbed by later arrivals to London’s packed cemeteries. But even a stone casket eight metres down only buys you so much peace when a £56bn train line comes knocking.

"The first big dig on HS2's route out of Euston is bringing up the bones of some 40,000 people, and these are the lucky ones. Records suggest 61,000 bodies were interred, but about a third were removed to expand the rail terminus in the 19th century – and without, current archaeologists maintain, the care they are now taking to keep each skeleton apart.

"Closed in 1853 over fears of cholera, the cemetery eventually became a park – St James Gardens – shaded until last year with dozens of London plane trees. Today, it is bare earth, dug down in steps, under a huge rig of canvas and scaffolding, platforms and lighting, covering the site from rain and public view."

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