Ticket to Ride by Judy Rouse

Judy gave this talk supported by husband Chris in the audience. She entertained our branch with a well balanced and informative talk on the origins of passenger train travel. Going back to 1830 when only one hundred miles of rail track existed progressing to 1852 when it had reached over six thousand six hundred miles in length.

She spoke of difficulties in travel before railways involving toll roads, carriages, horses, and servants. Some who did not own a carriage rented but this was only affordable by those with money, the poor had mainly only one option that was to walk.

The railways came about by the need to move materials, coal and other goods. The first passenger journey is recorded as being thirty one mile and took one and a quarter hours. Parliamentary Acts laid down the cost of travel in 1859 at just 1p per mile

Judy also described the difficulty of scheduling journeys with a large number of train operating companies and even the country was operating differing time zones. Comparing London time in 1852, Reading was plus 4 minutes going to the extreme of Exeter being 18 minutes ahead of London.

The Railway Travellers’ hand book and Bradshaw’s published schedules for journeys.

Parliament passed an Act in 1861 regulating smoking on carriages. Women had separate carriages and waiting rooms.

Judy spoke of the perils of travel noting in the early days no signalling system, resulting in collision of trains on the same track, boiler explosions, open carriages leaving passengers at the mercy of the elements, lack of toilet facilities, and no lighting of carriages.

Gradually from 1875 there appeared facilities at stations and included Luncheon baskets, waiting rooms and refreshment rooms, although the train did not stop long at the station and one had to hurry with eating your snack.

She concluded by talking of Victorian excursions and trips to the sea side.

I thoroughly enjoyed her talk which was delivered at a good pace and was well illustrated by projected slides.

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