This category deals with the passengers' experience of railway travel. The earlier items deal mainly with the traveller's experience of the railway infrastructure. Later items are mainly about the interaction between passengers.

Main Themes and Motifs

  • The discomforts of railway travel
  • Naïve travellers (often Irish)
  • Interaction between the sexes


1830-39    021
1840-49    146; 184; 304; 515; 534; 589
1850-59    040; 045
1860-69    058; 520; 521*
1880-89    041; 377; 328
1890-99    576

Uncertain: 521; 538

* The earliest and latest dates for this item extend across decades. See item more information.

Historical Background

Before 1850

Early carriages gave a bumpy ride. Primitive couplings between carriages and rudimentary braking systems meant that the acceleration and deceleration of the engine was passed down the train in a wave of violent jerks as the carriages separated and collided with each other. The smoke and cinders from the engine showered down upon the passengers. First class passengers had a roof to protect them but 2nd and 3rd class were not so fortunate. Francis Coghlan (a prolific writer of travel guides between 1833 and 1860) advised 2nd class passengers.
'get as far from the engine as possible - for three reasons, first, should an explosion take place, you may happily get off with the loss of an arm or a leg' whereas 'nearer the engine ' you will probably be blown to smithereens. Secondly ' the vibration is very much dimin-ished, and third 'always sit with your back to the engine to avoid being chilled by the cold current of air which passes through these open wagons and also saves you from being nearly blinded by the small cinders which escape through the funnel'

After 1850

The introduction of parliamentary_trains¹ made railway travel possible for all but the poorest folk. The opportunity to travel was enthusiastically taken up by people of modest means and railways became an important scene of social interaction. See also Railways>Holidays and Excursions by Rail


3 across Articles in this Category: click a link

Greenock Railway ('Twas on a Monday...

bar146: Dates 1841~1843|

Scene at Dunoon whence Glasgow bound travellers catch the early morning steamer to Greenock to connect with the city train.

Battle Fought On The Shields Railway,

bar021: Dates 1839~1839|

 A disagreement between passengers and Railway Police comes to blows and ends in court.

Bowling Railway

bar040: Dates 1850~1851|

The discomforts of the journey by train and ferry from Glasgow to Dumbarton.

Bradshaw's Guide

bar041: Dates ----~1876|

A couple travelling by train use Bradshaw's Guide as a pretext for a flirtation which leads to courtship and marriage.

Brighton Railway

bar045: Dates 1857~1861|

Description of journey from  London to Brighton.

Charming Young Widow I Met in the Train...

bar520: Dates 1863~----|

 The hero is travelling by train to London when he meets a widow. When the train stops the widow alights and leaves her baby in the care...

Charming Young Widow I Met on the Train...

bar058: Dates 1863~1863|

A traveller from North Wales to London is robbed by a woman posing as a widow with a babe in arms.

Howdon For Jarrow, Loup Out!

bar538: Dates 1861~1879|

Problems with the local railway service to Jarrow

Iron Horse, The

bar184: Dates 1848~1848|

 A naive traveller goes from Dundee to Perth. 

Paddy on the Railway

bar304: Dates 1841~1866|

An Irishman - accused of travelling without the proper ticket - reacts by attacking his accuser.

Paddy on the Greenock Railway

bar534: Dates 1841~1855|

An Irishman - accused of travelling without a ticket - reacts violently and is imprisoned.

Railroad travelling or a roide I' th'...

bar515: Dates 1840~1835|

The story of the hero's journey from Stockport to Manchester and back again on the newly opened railway.

Railway Foot Warmer

bar328: Dates ----~1880|

Femme fatale shares foot warmer and then extorts money from hero.

She Went Right Past Her Junction

bar377: Dates ----~1898|

An amorous encounter leading to a 'breach of promise' suit.

Taith Y Cardi O Landyssul I Lundain

bar521: Dates 1863~1875|

A welsh language version of the Charming Young Widow I Met in the Train

Third Class Traveller's Petition, the

bar589: Dates ----~1845|

 A passenger bemoans the discomforts of open carriages.

Battle Fought On The Shields Railway,...

bar021copy: Dates 1839~1839|

 A disagreement between passengers and Railway Police comes to blows and ends in court.

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