Tuesday, 5 August 2014



To nearly all the Railways in Great Britain.

Proceed at once to the booking-office and procure a ticket for the class carriage you intend to travel by, and if near the time of starting, enter the departure shed.
Have your name legibly written on your luggage, and see it stowed away, and then take your seat in a carriage, carrying with you carpet bags or other light luggage, and wait till the starting bell rings.
Take care of your ticket to deliver at your journey's end, or to the attendant at starting, as the case may be.
The weight generally allowed to each passenger for luggage is about 100 lbs. and a charge is made for excess.
No smoking is allowed at the stations, nor in any of the carriages.
No dogs allowed to be taken inside the carriages, but they are conveyed in a proper vehicle at a small charge for each.
Do not leave your seat at any station, except the one at which refreshment is allowed, nor attempt to open the carriage doors yourself.
Females are in attendance at each terminus, and at the central refreshment station, to wait upon ladies and children.
Carriages and horses should be at the stations at least a quarter of an hour before the time of starting.
Post horses can always be obtained at each terminus and most of the stations.
Omnibuses, flys, coaches and cabs are always waiting the arrival of the trains at each terminus.
Children under ten years of age half-price, infants in arms, unable to walk, free of charge.
Every train is provided with guards and a conductor, who is responsible for the order and regularity of the journey.
Every guard, porter or policeman employed by the company has a distinguishing number on the collar of his coat.
The companies' servants are strictly enjoined, on pain of dismissal, to observe the utmost civility and attention towards all the passengers, nor are they to receive any fee or gratuity.

From: Henry Tuck, Every Traveller's Guide to the Railways of England, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, France, and Germany, 1843

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Complaining about the habits of Victorian railway passengers

It seems that the gripes Victorian railway travellers had about their fellow passengers were very similar to ours...

London Bridge, 1858
"Once I found myself racing north alone with an elderly spinster of forbidding aspect. She had long since left the “springs of fifty years” behind. She was gaunt, grey, and bony, She wore gleaming spectacles. She was like the elderly Englishwoman dear to Parisian caricature. And the first words she uttered of sepulchral tones were these: “I always travel in a ladies’ compartment when going even the shortest journey, for you never know what might happen!” This prudent spinster, it will be seen, was gifted with that priceless possession, a vivid imagination. With her, I remember, I was moved to formulate my views as to the Ideal Train. I argued that the whole classification of passengers required immediate rearrangement. There should not only be separate carriages for children, but compartments for the newly-wed, for men who smoke inferior cigars, for schoolboys, for people who want to discuss their private affairs, for folks recovering from dangerous illnesses, for ugly people, for “engaged” couples – or those who ought to be – for young ladies who giggle (there is no form of nerve-torture to compare to this on a long journey), and for people who regard railway travelling as an excuse for gnawing chicken-bones, drinking, potent-smelling liquors, and strewing themselves and everybody else with crumbs."

Miss Hepworth Dixon, Ladies Pictorial, August 1896

Monday, 14 July 2014

"No sound is heard in the cold air" - Observations on the arrival of trains in 1849

No sound is heard in the cold air but the hissing of a pilot engine, which, like a restless spirit advancing and retrograding, is stealing along the intermediate rails, waiting to carry off the next down-train; its course being marked by white steam meandering above it and by red-hot coals of different sizes which are continually falling from beneath it. In this obscure scene the Company's interminable lines of gaslights (there are 232 at the Euston Station), economically screwed down to the minimum of existence, are feebly illuminating the damp varnished panels of the line of carriages in waiting, the brass doorhandles of the cabs, the shining haims, brass browbands and other ornaments on the drooping heads and motionless backs of the cab-horses; and while the blood-red signal lamp is glaring near the tunnel to deter unauthorised intrusion, the stars of heaven cast a faint silvery light through the long strips of plate-glass in the roof above the platform. On a sudden is heard — the stranger hardly knows whence — the mysterious moan of compressed air, followed by the violent ringing of a bell. That instant every gaslight on and above a curve of 900 feet suddenly bursts into full power. The carriages, cabs, &c. appear, comparatively speaking, in broad daylight, and the beautiful iron reticulation which sustains the glazed roof appears like fairy work.

Sir Francis Head, Stokers and Pokers, 1849

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

"We would have the public…somewhat more mindful" a view on the benifits of railways from 1856

We would have the public…somewhat more mindful of the benefits they have already derived from the railways; it would improve their patience under evils for the time unavoidable…They save the public two-thirds of their time in transit, and two-thirds in fares and tills; they have given us the penny post, which would not have existed without them; they have intersected the country with telegraph wires employing 3000 persons, stretching a distance of 86,000 miles and flashing a million messages a year, many of them to and from places hundreds of miles apart; they have reduced the cost of many articles of general consumption, and rendered others common where nature seemed to plant an interdict against them…In 1854 they transported 111,000,000 passengers…in such safety that in the first half of the year but one accident happened to every 7,195,341 passengers. In these journeys, each passenger gains an hour in time, amounting in all to 38,000 years of working life at eight hours a day. Supposing the day’s labour to be worth three shillings, these deplorable railways save the nation £2,000,000 a year in the item of time alone.

Chamber’s Journal (1856), 227

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Advertising Christmas: Posters for Christmas trains before 1914

London and North Western Railway - 1853
York, Newcastle and Berwick; York and North Midland and Leeds Northern Railways - 1853

Stockton & Darlington Railway -1856
Liskeard & Looe Railway - 1906

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Dismissed for being drunk - 1899

These chaps were dismissed by Great Northern Railway in 1899 for having a bit too much...

Pallender, J.W. - Parcels Porter, Peterboro' Passenger [station], for being asleep and under the influence of drink when on duty.

Thorndike, Geo. Wm. - Superior Foreman Prorter, Manchester Goods [station], for being under the influence of drink, and asleep in a wagon whilst on duty.


Source: The National Archives, RAIL 236/160, Traffic Committee Minute Book, 5/10/1899, p.257

Thursday, 3 October 2013

London and North Western Railway Criminal Prosecutions - December 1878

In December 1878 the London and North Western Railway prosecuted the following number of cases:

Crime                                                                                          Number of cases

Robbery                                                                                                 6
Drunk and disorderly                                                                               4
Attempting to enter a train in motion                                                         3
Travelling in a superior class of carriage to that for which tickets were 
held + obstructing the company’s servants in the execution of their duty     3
Receiving stolen property                                                                         3
Travelling without a ticket                                                                         2
Interfering with comfort of passengers + obstructing the company’s 
servants in the execution of their duty                                                       2
Travelling with platform tickets                                                                  2
Pocket-Picking                                                                                       1
Drunk and assaulting a company’s servant                                               1
Travelling with ticket over date                                                                 1
Assaulting Company’s servant                                                                 1
Trespass                                                                                               1

 Source: The National Archives, RAIL 410/183, Traffic Committee minute book, Minute 31173, 10 January 1879