First trip on a train

It’s always fascinating to read historical narrative describing something new which we now take for granted: even more so when the witness is such a fine and observant writer.  Here is Charles Greville writing about his first trip on a train: part of it on the tracks of the first intercity passenger railway service in the world, moreover, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway which opened in 1830:

Railway history

Liverpool to Manchester, 1830

Knowsley, July 18th, 1837

Tired of doing nothing in London, and of hearing about the Queen, and the elections, I resolved to vary the scene and run down here to see the Birmingham railroad, Liverpool, and Liverpool races. So I started at five o’clock on Sunday evening, got to Birmingham at half-past five on Monday morning, and got upon the railroad at half-past seven. Nothing can be more comfortable than the vehicle in which I was put, a sort of chariot with two places, and there is nothing disagreeable about it but the occasional whiffs of stinking air which it is impossible to exclude altogether. The first sensation is a slight degree of nervousness and a feeling of being run away with, but a sense of security soon supervenes, and the velocity is delightful. Town after town, one park and château after another are left behind with the rapid variety of a moving panorama, and the continual bustle and animation of the changes and stoppages make the journey very entertaining. The train was very long, and heads were continually popping out of the several carriages, attracted by well-known voices, and then came the greetings and exclamations of surprise, the ‘Where are you going?’ and ‘How on earth came you here?’ Considering the novelty of its establishment, there is very little embarrassment, and it certainly renders all other travelling irksome and tedious by comparison. It was peculiarly gay at this time, because there was so much going on. There were all sorts of people going to Liverpool races, barristers to the assizes, and candidates to their several elections. The day was so wet that I could not see the town of Liverpool.” (Diaries, vol 1: p11)

The Queen referred to was Victoria, who had ascended the throne about a month before.  Thanks due to Project Gutenberg.


About rimboval

Writer, thinker and proud grandfather
This entry was posted in Journeys and destinations and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s