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[Note 326.10] The flirtatious barmaid takes a leading role in several songs. In this song she meets with another frequent user of the Victorian railway, the Commercial Traveller. The possibility of being conned by a pretty girl is a recurring theme in songs from this period. Harry Clifton wrote several such songs. The price of 3 shillings suggests that the sheet was aimed at a middle-class customers. The words of the song were printed as a broadside and thus available to poorer singers. It was also included in an anthology The Gypsy's Warning Songster  published in 1867.

[Note 326.1] "I travelled for Gallipot, Cork, and Co." - Commercial travellers often used the railways. A gallipot is a small earthen glazed pot, especially. one used by apothecaries for ointments and medicines. (in jest or contempt). One who handles gallipots; an apothecary [OED]. Culinary vinegar was sold on draught in pharmacies as late as 1960

[Note 326.2] "Who served behind a first-class bar" - Stations were designed to minimise encounters between classes with separate waiting rooms refreshment rooms etc. By using the first class facilities, the hero of the song is pretending to a higher social status.

[Note 326.3] "the Chatham and Dover Line" - The London Chatham and Dover Railway opened in 1861. Its reputation for poor service is the subject of another song, Bar227, London Chatham and Dover

[Note 326.4] "Or served the soup so very hot as the bell rang for the train / To “scald your mouth” or “leave the lot” / But then you couldn’t complain"  - Refreshments were not available on the train so passengers had to use the refreshment rooms on the platforms. The lack of time allowed for consumption of the items bought was a common cause of complaint.

[Note 326.5] "You may suppose she’d lots of beaux" - In fact the long hours worked by all railway servants, and the discipline imposed by the railway companies, would have left Belle little time for boyfriends.

[Note 326.6] "All clothed in green with silver lace / On the collar of his coat a yard / An elegant foot for a Wellington Boot / ... the model of a railway guard" - Railway companies were enamoured of the military ethos and believed that smart uniforms bred loyalty in the staff.

[Note 326.7] "For without a doubt I'm getting stout, At least I'm far from slim" - The figure on the left of the song sheet cover is probably based on Harry Clifton who in life was stouter than portrayed here.

 

[Note 326.8] "I’m five feet six; he’s six feet five / All polished neat and trim". - Railway companies liked to recruit former sailors and soldiers whom they thought to be well disciplined.

rout(1) - A rout is a group of people gathered or assembled together; a company, a troop; a gathering, a crowd [OED]. In this context a social gathering.

[Note 326.9]  "the Guards Waltz drives me mad" - The British Library catalogue lists eleven separate arrangements of the Guards Waltz published between 1862 and 1865, (the year that Railway Belle was published) suggesting that our hero would have been regularly maddened. The waltzing guards are of course of the military rather than railway variety.

 

 

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