Home London The body now lying under Platform 12 at Euston Station is . . .

The body now lying under Platform 12 at Euston Station is . . .

by Vic Keegan

. . . very likely that of the most celebrated hero of Australia who is unknown in this country.  And we are not talking test cricket. Matthew Flinders was not only  the first person to circumnavigate Australia (in 1801 to 1803) but also the man who actually gave Australia its name. Small wonder there are over 100 statues of him in Australia yet only one in Britain- at his birthplace at Donington in Lincolnshire.
Bur maybe not for much longer. There is a campaign afoot to raise money for a statue of him (based on the maquette bottom right ) to be erected on Euston Station next year on the 200th anniversary of his birth.
Flinders died aged 40 of a kidney disease contracted in the tropics. He was buried in St James churchyard roughly where St James Gardens are today next door to Euston Station. But during the railway mania of the mid nineteenth century Euston expanded into the neighbouring burial grounds as a result of which many bodies were disinterred and re-located. It is thought that Flinder’s body is now under Euston Station somewhere between platforms 12 to 15.  It is possible but less likely that the remains could still be under St James Gardens but it is known that at some stage they were moved from there.  Later in the century when the Midland Railway was expanding at nearby St Pancras a similar operation of moving graves was undertaken, this time by Thomas Hardy the poet and novelist who was working as assistant architect.
The Flinders campaign, which includes some of his descendants, hopes to have a memorial  of him and the cat that accompanied him on his voyages, erected in the gardens in July next year though somewhere in the station might be more appropriate. Either way a memorial for a highly unusual Pom who is fated more in Australia than in his own country is long overdue.


Flinders in Lincolnshire   Stuart Rose, former M & S boss, admiring the maquette

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