Friday, March 28, 2008

TRAINS IN THE GILDED AGE


Karen at Euro Crime posted about her tortuous train journey to London and back the other day.



The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes about the Edwardian and late-Victorian England portrayed in its stories:"The railway is the quickest means of travel and, in the case of emergency, a special train can always be ordered to some country station; time-tables are reliable and for a train to be seven minutes late is cause for alarm."


It was of course a very different world during that Gilded Age of privilege and this extract from The Patricians, England: 1895-1902 the first chapter of Barbara W Tuchman's masterwork The Proud Tower expands on the theme.


But for the majority it was easy to be agreeable when everything was done to keep them in comfort and ease and to make life for the great and wealthy as uninterruptedly pleasant as possible.

The lordly manner was the result. When Colonel Brabazon, who affected a fashionable difficulty with his r's, arrived late at a railroad station to be informed that the train to London had just left, he instructed the station master,


"Then bwing me another."


4 Comments:

Blogger Peter said...

Barbara Tuchman's comment seems appropriate, since the years in the chapter's title dovetail almost perfectly with the dates of the stories in the book.

With wespect to Col. Brabazon and the question of privilege, how many classes of travel were to be had on English trains of the time? And who could afford the cheapest travel?

The frequency of London postal delivery, at least in novels of the same period, always surprises me, with references to the morning post, the first post and the like, implying that there are several deliveries per day. Would that have been a question of privilege, too, i.e., greater frequency of service in more privileged areas?
==============
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12:51 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

I remember the days of morning and afternoon posts which means that I am getting old, or very privileged. I think it is the former.

The twains sewvice has become a national joke with delays because of leaves on the line or the wrong kind of snow.
But now we have the national disgwace of the farce at Heathwow's Terminal 5 to take our minds of the twains.

4:31 AM  
Blogger Kerrie said...

What about train mysteries.
Recently I read two Ewdard Marston books:
THE RAILWAY DETECTIVE
and THE EXCURSION TRAIN
They remind you that things were very different 150 years ago. Not bad cozies.

1:03 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Kerrie I will look those up as I am fascinated by that period.

12:08 PM  

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