Thursday, 31 May 2012

'Watch Out' for Fagin and co. on a train - 1863

The Caledonian Railway's book of standing orders for the officer's and men of the company from 1863 is one of the most interesting railway instruction books that I have a digital copy of, as it contains rules that I have not seen anywhere else within the Victorian railway industry. Probably, the most interesting instruction is this one covering the petty criminals of the age, and when reading it I immediately though 'FAGIN!' What do you think?

'70. Gangs of gamblers and pickpockets are occasionally in the habit of travelling by the trains. Guards are particularly desired to make themselves acquainted with the individuals composing the gang; and having done so, to point them out to the passengers, station-masters, police, and porters, at every station the train stops at.

When the law cannot be brought to bear against these men, the object of every person must be to expose them.

Their tickets must be frequently examined; they must be watched at stations, and not allowed to enter on to the platform without having first purchased tickets. If there are more than one, they must all be locked up in one compartment, and never allowed to change carriages: and whenever they are discovered to be without tickets, or travelling beyond the station for which their tickets were issued, they must be removed from the train, and prosecuted before a magistrate for defrauding the company.

Ticket clerks must be cautious in receiving money from these men, as they endeavour to pass base coin and forged notes.'[1]


[1] London School of Economics, HE1 (42)/221, Caledonian Railway: standing orders based on the rules and regulations of the company, and to be observed by the officers and men in the superintendent's department in the company's services, February 1863, p.30

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

'A Disgraceful Clergyman' (or not) - On a train - 1859


'At Lambeth police court on Friday, a lady obtained a summons against "The incumbent of a large and influential parish in the metropolis and also a popular preacher for indecent behaviour towards her in a railway carriage.[1]

Apparently, he was a acquitted:

'...the charge was dismissed, in consequence of some levity in the woman's habits, and the clergyman, we believe, stands acquitted in the opinion of the religious society in which he was very highly esteemed.'[2]


[1] The Preston Guardian etc., Saturday, November 26, 1859
[2] The Bury and Norwich Post, and Suffolk Herald, Tuesday, September 18, 1860

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Weekly Round-Up

I should really apologise for the lack of a main blog post this week. Again, this isn't out of laziness, I just have so much on with the end of my PhD that it is starting to get on top of me a bit. Hopefully, I will have one next, as by Wednesday, hopefully, I will have sent off my work to York in preparation for my final thesis advisory panel. So, here's the round up of what has been in the 'Waiting Room' this week:

Tuesday: LADIES ONLY - Carriage Compartment Label
Wednesday: The Number of Railway Companies in Britain 1830-1910
Thursday: The First use of the Word 'Railway'? - 1776
Friday: The Great Western before the Great Western - 1826
Saturday: "The Guards have a Top Coat served out once a year" - Railway clothing 1848

And don't forget the latest main Turnip Rail post - A Brief History of the Female Railway Clerk 1830-1914

Saturday, 26 May 2012

"The Guards have a Top Coat served out once a year" - Railway clothing 1848

Railway employee's working clothes in the Victorian period were usually provided by the company. However, because this was an expense for the companies, they were usually very precise in how much they provided to their employees, as demonstrated by these regulations from the Great Western Railway's rule book of 1848:

[1] The National Archives, RAIL 1134/148, General Instructions to Superintendents, Clerks, Guards, Policemen, Porters &c. &c. -1848

Friday, 25 May 2012

The Great Western before the Great Western - 1826

I was recently contacted by someone asking if I could help them find anything about the London and Bristol Rail Road. This wasn't an early form of the Great Western Railway that came to be promoted in the early 1830s, but another project that planned in 1826 that never came to fruition. Indeed, searching through the on-line nineteenth century newspapers only turned up one article as follows from the Bristol Mercury of Monday June 5 of that year:
If you have any more information on this project, please let me know!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The First use of the Word 'Railway'? - 1776

While it is easy to see the railway age in Britain as beginning with the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830, or even the opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway five years before, it should not be forgotten that prior to this there were a great many track ways established for industrial or mining purposes. These lines were usually hauled by horses, used wooden tracks, and connected with other pieces of transport infrastructure, such as canals and ports. Therefore, given these lines existed, I thought I would search for the earliest use of the word 'railway' in the 17th and 18th online newspaper collections. The first I found was from the London Gazette of May 11 1776, which reported....

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Number of Railway Companeis in Britain 1830-1910

People are sometimes astounded when I tell them that in the Victorian period there were over a hundred railway companies in Britain. Therefore, I just thought I would share the figures, as shown on the left. A 'significant' railway company is defined as those that had gross receipts constituting 0.25 per cent or more of the industry total.[1]


[1] Arnold, A.J. and McCartney, S. ‘Rates of return, concentration levels and strategic change in the British railway industry, 1830-1912’, Journal of Transport History, 26 (2005), p.50

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

LADIES ONLY - Carriage Compartment Label

From the late 1860s there was a general hysteria about the notion of women travelling alone in railway carriages and the possible risk of them being attacked. Because of this, in October 1874 the Metropolitan Railway introduced dedicated 'Ladies Only' compartments on all their trains. They were infrequently used, and after a few months the company had dispensed with them. From then on, all that most companies offered was the reservation of compartments for women on request, and the label above, placed in the window of a compartment, would designate it as such. If you would like to read more about 'Ladies Only' compartments, I wrote a whole blog post on the whole subject in April last year.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Weekly Round-up

So I went to Ireland in the week, which was a treat. However, I only saw trains on bridges above me. I don't think that 'riding the rails' in Ireland would be different to here, after all, from what I saw everything looked almost identical. Apart from that it has been all hands to the pumps work-wise. Yet, I feel much more confident that I will get my PhD finished on time, or even earlier. However, what I should say to all my lovely readers is that I may be very slack on posts over the next four months as my work nears completion. I will attempt to post things, but please forgive me if I don't get round to it. Anyway, on with the round-up.

Monday: In the event of a passenger being drunk and disorderly.... 1889
Tuesday: North British Railway Advertising - 'Scotland's Golf Course'
Wednesday: London and North Western Railway Dining Train - 1905
Thursday: A Narrow Escape - 1883
Friday: "friendly, almost family" - The London and South Western Railway and the 1911 strike
Saturday: Filthy Railway Carriages

And don't forget the latest main Turnip Rail post - A Brief History of the Female Railway Clerk 1830-1914

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Filthy Railway Carriages

I have never thought about the cleanliness of railway carriages in the Victorian period. However, after being alerted to the presence of interesting railway material in the British Medical Journal, I had a browse and a  letter from August 1896 showed me that unclean passenger accommodation isn't uniquely a peril of modern railway travel:

'SIR,-Let me ask your assistance in removing a possible source of danger to public health, and in remedying a state of things existing in our midst highly discreditable in this age of sanitary progress.
                 The condition of some of the carriages on that section of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway running from Victoria to London Bridge vid Sydenbam, by which I have of late been frequently obliged to travel, is very disgraceful. Their filthy condition suggests that they are rarely washed or cleaned, and the favourable soil that their dirt affords for the accumulation and possible development of noxious germs can be imagined. Is there no sanitary authority responsible for the inspection of these carriages? In one case within my knowledge representations have been made, but apparently without effect.-I am, etc.,
August 13th. OBSERVER'[1]

What is interesting, is that the class of carriage wasn't even mentioned. Indeed, by the late nineteenth century even third class accommodation was of a good standard and, as shown by this letter, the expectation was that in whichever one chose to travel it, it would be at least clean!


[1] The British Medical Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1807 (Aug. 17, 1895), pp. 451-452

Friday, 18 May 2012

"friendly, almost family" - The London and South Western Railway and the 1911 strike

In August 1911 all the railway companies of Britain were subject to strike action, as employees demanded better pay and conditions. Yet, the staff of one company, the London and South Western Railway, did not go on strike (except for two individuals). Naturally, the press speculated why this was so. A letter to the Telegraph from a company employee showed that the reasons lay within the family culture that had been fostered within the company over many decades:

'When the writer first joined the company, he was struck by the friendly, almost family, interest which the directors displayed in the staff. At the time Hon Ralph Dutton was chairman and Mr Archibald Scott was general manager. The chairman was a splendid type of high-minded gentleman, and the manager was distinguished alike for his business ability and for his sterling character, and upright, unselfish disposition. It is not too much to say that these two men laid the true foundations of the service...We have out little troubles, and, like the average Englishman, we sometimes grumble, but a general strike would be regarded as little less than treason.

[1] Faulkner J.N. And Williams R.A., The London and South Western Railway in the Twentieth Century, (Newton Abbott, 1988) p.189
[2] Letter to the Telegraph, reproduced in South Western Gazette, September 1911, p. 9

Thursday, 17 May 2012

A Narrow Escape - 1883

Luckily for many, we don't have carriage doors that passengers can open themselves any more. However, I do wonder how many times events such as the one below, from 1883, occurred in the age of the slam door.

'A NARROW ESCAPE - At Crewe, on Friday, the 31st ult, Wm. Fitch, a respectably dressed man, was charged with being drunk at Crewe station. The defendant was travelling by a Birmingham train, and as it was running into the station he attempted to step onto the platform, but he fell between the platform and the train, and narrowly escaped being killed. He was let off with a penalty of ten shillings.'[1]


[1] Cheshire Observer, Saturday, September 08, 1883; pg. 7; Issue 1622

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

London and North Western Railway Dining Train - 1905

This London and North Western Railway dining train, built in 1905, was one of the company's prestige services on the West Coast Main Line route. Nevertheless, services such as these, while luxurious and aimed at winning traffic from competitors, have been blamed for reducing the profitability of later nineteenth and early twentieth century railway companies, by forcing up operating and rolling stock construction costs. Whether they did or not, still needs to be accurately determined.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

North British Railway Advertising - 'Scotland's Golf Course'

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, railway companies started advertising special reduced-rate tickets for individuals who had a certain type of holiday in mind. The activities promoted included rambling, cycling, boating, angling and golfing, and the tickets to places where pleasure-seekers could partake in such activities cost between a third and three-quarters the full price. This poster, from the North British Railway in the early 1900s, was advertising golfing holidays in Scotland (clearly).

Monday, 14 May 2012

In the event of a passenger being drunk and disorderly.... 1889

Throughout nineteenth century railway rule books there is one regulation they will always certainly contain; that an individual being found 'under the influence' on the job will be dismissed. Far less common are regulations relating to what staff should do if a passenger is found drunk. I was, therefore, interested to find this one from the Barry Railway's rule book of 1889:

"247: In the event of any passenger being Drunk and Disorderly, to the annoyance of others, the Guard is to use all gentle means to stop the nuisance; failing which he must, for the safety and convenience of all, remove the offender from the train at the first station. The Guard must obtain the name and address of the offender , and also of one, at least, of the Passengers present at the time; he must also take care that the offender's luggage is put out of the train before it proceeds on its journey."[1]

[1] The National Archives, RAIL 1134/4, Rules and Regulations to be observed by all persons in the service of the company, p.120-121

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Waiting Room Weekly Round-Up

Welcome to the weekly round-up. I have to confess that not much has happened this week in the world of trains. I am still slogging through the book proposal, so that is taking up a lot of time. But once I get this don, I won't have any more things to do apart from finish the PhD, and my, am I looking forward to finishing that.

Here's the round-up

Monday: "The Cross-Border Archive Project"
Tuesday: The Expected Politeness of Railway Officials - 1848 (N.B. To be read with an innocent mind)
Wednesday: The few Railwaymen on Strike before 1870
Thursday: 'Improved & Additional Express Service, London to Scotland'
Friday: Elizabeth Ainsworth - Railway Office Cleaner - 1892
Saturday: Collision on the Midland Railway [of a Beer Train]

And don't forget my main Turnip Rail post - A Brief History of the Female Railway Clerk 1830-1914

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Collision on the Midland Railway [of a Beer Train] - 1883

One day I reckon I should do a history of the railways and beer. This is from The Pall Mall Gazette of January 26, 1883.

"A collision occurred yesterday on the Midland Railway between Leicester and London. A heavy beer train was being shunted to allow a Leicester express to pass, and while across the main line an empty waggon train dashed into it, smashing the waggons and completely blocking both lines. The engine kept the rails, and no serious personal injuries were sustained, but there was great damage to rolling stock, and the lines were not clear for traffic for several hours."

That may be all well and good, but how much beer was lost?

Friday, 11 May 2012

Elizabeth Ainsworth - Railway Office Cleaner - 1892

While browsing through railway company staff files, I came across Mrs Elizabeth Ainsworth, who was listed as an office cleaner at the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway's Ardwick Station in 1892. Just to see what I could turn up, I thought I would briefly look into how Elizabeth came to hold this post, as most women who were employed on the railways and were listed as 'Mrs' were widows of railwaymen who had been killed while on duty.

Elizabeth was appointed to her post on 29 November 1892 on the pitiful wage of eight shillings a week (£20 6s per year).[1] Therefore, I figured that the next thing to do was to look for her in the 1891 census. On finding her, I discovered that she was forty-nine when the census was taken and had been born in Farnsfield, Nottinghamshire. At that point she was living with her five children and husband, Henry, who was a railway porter.[2] The hunt was then on to find out what happened to Henry.

Unfortunately, his staff record has seemingly not survived. Yet, I did find out that a Henry Ainsworth died in the June quarter of 1892 in Chorlton, which is only four miles from Ardwick. Therefore, it is possible that this was my Henry, although the birth year on the Birth, Marriage and Death register does not match that on the 1891 census. Nevertheless, on the 1901 census, when Elizabeth was still living with four of her children in Ardwick, she was listed as being a widow.[4] Consequently, while much searching did not turn up how Henry died, I am almost certain that Elizabeth received the job because he had passed away.

Later records show that Elizabeth continued in the company's service until 1 February 1913, and that her wages were only advanced once, in October 1893, when she started receiving ten shillings a week.[3]


[1] The National Archives [TNA], RAIL 463/309, MS & L Railway & Canal general staff book, p.45
[2] TNA, RG 12/3169, 1891 Census,  Lancashire, Ardwick, District 26, p30
[3] TNA, RAIL 463/243, Staff register: 4841 - 5342 No. 10, p.4932
[4] TNA, RG 13/3678, 1901 Census, Lancashire, South Manchester, Ardwick, District 29, p.32

Thursday, 10 May 2012

'Improved & Additional Express Service, London to Scotland'

This notice was found on the front page of the London and North Western Railway's public timetable from 1869. Promoting the company's 'Improved and Additional Express Service,' It was part of a very extended fight that the east and west coast main line railway companies had for passenger traffic to Scotland between the 1850s and the 1930s. Indeed, the late 1860s was just one period when competition got a bit more heated.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The few Railwaymen on Strike before 1870

While reading an article by P.W. Kingsford on railway labour relations between 1835 and 1875, I was surprised by the seemingly peaceful relationship between railway workers and their employers. Indeed, Kingsford's extensive trawl of railway companies' files only turned up ten examples of strike action in the period, as follows: 

 Of the strikes, nine were actions regarding wages, either asking for increases or preventing decreases, while one, the Eastern Counties Enginemen's strike of 1850, was against disciplinary fines. Only four succeeded. In 1848 London and North Western Enginmen secured an 'understanding' that after a reorganisation a reduction of wages would not take place. The year after, Midland Railway Goods Guards and Porters ensured a reduction of wages would not go ahead. In 1854, Porters on the London and North Western managed to win an increase in wages. Lastly, 1867, Enginmen secured a compromise in a 'right of appeal in promotion.' Curiously, Kingsford doesn't site whether this was secured in the case of the North Eastern or London, Brighton and South Coast Enginemen.[1]


[1] Kingsford, P.W., 'Labour Relations on the Railways, 1835-1875', in Channon, Geoffrey, Railways Volume II: Studies in Transport History, (Aldershot, 1996), p.53

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Expected Politeness of Railway Officials - 1848 (N.B. To be read with an innocent mind)

I went off to The National Archives last week to photograph some early railway rule books. While I haven't finished reviewing them, this rule from the 1848 Great Western Railway rule book particularly interested me. Just a warning - you should really read it with an innocent mind ;)

Monday, 7 May 2012

The Cross-Border Archive Project

I was recently sent a link to The Cross-Border Archive Project by Rachel Moore, who I met that the Archives, Artefacts, Amateurs and Academics conference some weeks back. Starting in early 2007 and ending in June 2008, the project was a joint venture by the Newry & Mourne Museum and Louth County Archives Service to make available on-line documents regarding the history of Newry and Mourne in Northern Ireland and Louth in Ireland. Of particular interest to Rachel and I was the section covering documents from the Great Northern Railway, which crossed the border between the two regions.

The site contains sections on the history of the railway, its social impact, the company's works at Dundalk, the company's relationship with its employees and the trade it engaged in; all of which are accompanied by a fascinating array of images and documents. Naturally, my favourite image was that of the 'Great Northern Brewery private Siding'. However, I was also interested by a document providing details of the GNR's clerical exam from 1917. It stated that 'attention should be paid to grammar, spelling, punctuation and handwriting' of candidates when they submitted essays on one of the following four subjects: '(1) The necessity of tilling more land in Ireland', '(2) Modern inventions used in War', '(3) The game of football - its uses and abuses', and '(4) An honest man is the noblest work of God.'

Ultimately, there are many interesting things to look at and learn about on the site and I really recommend a look.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Waiting Room Weekly Round-Up

Well, I sent my draft thesis off to my supervisor this week. It was weird to see 95,000 words printed out as one document - very large!

So here's the round-up:

Monday: "When greyhound or other large dogs are booked by a train..."
Tuesday: Cannon Street Station in 1866
Wednesday: "Cursing" a Magistrate by a Clergyman [at a station]
Thursday: The Duties of Gate-keepers - 1848
Friday: The Stock Exchange Nicknames of British Railway Companies - 1898

And don't forget my main Turnip Rail post - A Misinformed but Devious Take-over of a Railway

Lastly, if you haven't already, please take a look at my post from a couple of weeks ago on an important project that I am involved it. - All comments welcome! - Archives, Artefacts, Amateurs and Academics - A Conference Report

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Stock Exchange Nicknames of British Railway Companies - 1898

In my researches yesterday, I came across a list of the stock exchange nicknames of Britain's largest railway companies in 1898. What I found interesting is that some of the names just use a word, or part of a word, from the company's title. However, other names relate to the region the companies served, for example the North Staffordshire Railway was referred to as 'pots', presumably because of the large pottery industry there. I'm now just curious about how these names came about. The whole list was as follows:-

Caledonian                                          Claras
Cambrians                                          Cambs
Glasgow and South Western                Ayrshires
Great Central                                      Centrals
Great Eastern                                     Easterns
Great Northern                                    Yorks
Great North of Scotland                       Haddocks
Great Western                                    Westerns
Hull and Barnsley                                Hulls
London and North Western                  Brums
London and South Western                 Souths
London, Brighton and South Coast       Berthas
London, Chatham and Dover                Little Chats
Midland                                              Middies
North British                                       British
North Eastern                                     Berwick
South Eastern                                    Doras
Lancashire and Yorkshire                    Leeds
North Staffordshire                             Pots
Taff Vale                                            Taffs


[1] The National Archives, ZPER 46/1, The Railway Yearbook for 1898

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Duties of Gate-keepers - 1848

I write this from inside The National Archives. Gosh, I love it here. Anyway, I have decided to take a day to work here on some things that simply interest me. As many of you are aware, I have a fervent interest in rule books. Currently in front on me is the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway's 1848 'Regulations to be observed by the company's servants employed in the Executive Department.' I could have chosen a vast number of instructions to quote, but I chose those pertaining to gate-keepers, as  they were pretty concise and summed up the job well.

96. Each gateman will be provided with Day and Night Signals, which he must keep in proper order, and always in readiness for use.
97. The gates to be always kept shut across the road, except when required to be opened to allow the Railway to be crossed.
98. Whenever the Railway is required to be crossed, the Gateman shall, before opening the Gate, satisfy himself that the Train is not in sight, he shall then show his Stop Signal, and in all cases allow it to remain until the Railway is properly clear; he must then close the Gates and alter the Signal.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

"Cursing" a Magistrate by a Clergyman [at a station]

Occasionally, I just search nineteenth century newspapers on-line to see what interesting stories come out. Indeed, when I came across this one from 1852 I just had to reproduce it.

'A most extraordinary, novel, and exciting scene was witnessed at the Flordon Station on Saturday evening. When the five o'clock train from Norwich arrived there, the passengers were much surprised at seeing the Rev. Mr Moore, the curate of the parish, standing in the passage of the station-house, dressed in his canonicals. It was, however, soon understood that he was waiting there to "curse" a neighbouring magistrate, who was expected by the train; and who had given him some presumed offence. When the individual alluded to was giving up his ticket to the station porter, the rev. gentleman thus addressed him:- "I inflict a curse upon this man. I curse you; I curse your wife; I curse your children; I curse all you have - may your children be fatherless and vagabonds and beg their bread," &c.; and thus he went until the "cursed man" drove off. We understand that the matter has been laid before the Bishop; and that the rev. gentleman, in default of finding sureties to keep the peace, was committed to the Castle, by Edward Howes esq.'[1]

On first reading, I considered it didn't actually have much to do with the railways, and had more to do with one man's gripe against another. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it actually said something about how Victorian society was transformed by the railways' arrival. Twenty years before this event the clergyman wouldn't have known precisely what time the magistrate would be due to arrive in town, and probably would have had to wait until it was confirmed he had arrived to conduct his bazaar act. Yet, with the invention of the railways, the timetable showed precisely the time the magistrate was due to arrive, and the clergyman would only have to turn up to meet the train. Therefore, in some respects the railways regimented Victorian society, making the clock the master.


[1] Caledonian Mercury, Thursday, April 1, 1852

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Cannon Street Station in 1866

On the 1 September 1866 the South Eastern Railway opened its Cannon Street Station. This image, from the Illustrated London News a week later, shows the two turrets at its entrance that were designed by John Hawkshaw and which the Daily News described as having a 'very imposing appearance'.[1] It occupied a site that had previously been steel yards and the wharfs of the Victoria Dock Company.[2]


[1] Daily News, Monday, 3 September, 1866
[2] The Pall Mall Gazette, Saturday, 1 September, 1866