The follow satirical recommendations for an ideal British railway function as a very informative time-capsule of not only contemporary attitudes toward railways and railway travel but also of assumptions about social class, the Aesthetic movement, and popular lectures and leisure activities.

(Respectfully Submitted to the Select Committee now Sitting.)

Stations.—To be furnished with a view to comfort of the rich ind the Art-education of the poor. The Platform and First-Class Waiting-Room to be given over for decoration to the Kyrle Society. First and Second-Class Waiting-Rooms to be luxuriously upholstered by leading firms wishing to exhibit their choicest wares, foung Women in Refreshment Department to be “intense.” Lilies are be always ready for Æsthetic luncheon parties. Station-Master o pass an Art-examination before receiving appointment.

Carriages—First-Class.—To be supplied with leading periodicals if the day. Station-Master to preside at excellent circulating library. Punkahs for summer, hot-water pipes for winter. Band of soft music (stationed in luggage-van) to be laid on by special telephonic wire. Sofas, arm-chairs, lounges, &c., to be suspended by silken cords to roof of carriage, to prevent vibration. Conservatory (with working fountain), billiard-rooms, tanks (well stocked for those who like fishing), and Turkish baths to be attached to every compartment.

Second-Class.—To contain good Reference Library, Comforts in every way suitable to a middle-class home. Mechanical Piano for use of passengers with musical tastes. Chess, bagatelle, the race game, and other amusements of a kindred character.

Third-Class.—Popular Educator in every compartment, at the service of “backward” travellers. Accomplishments—French, German, the rudiments of drawing, and the use of the globes. At intervals, interesting discourses (by staff of skilled Polvtechnic Lecturers), with “brilliant experiments” during the day. Dissolving-views, illustrating country traversed, during the night. Works of Art lent from the South Kensington Museum, &c., to be changed at the end of every journey.

General Arrangements.—Each train to be accompanied by obliging Directors anxious to afford information on every subject when questioned. Telegraph-wires to be used for displaying the notes of new pieces for the benefit of musical amateurs. Whistling on the engine to be done on the pipes of a deep-toned organ. Names of Stations to be sung in harmony by a choir of porters with carefully selected voices. Arrival of trains to be announced during the day by the sound of distant joy-bells, and at night by grand display of fireworks. Tunnels to be illuminated with the electric light tempered by rose-coloured glasses. Every Junction at which the Public have to wait to change a train, to be supplied with good shooting and other seasonable field-sports. “Amusing rattles” to be obtained on application to accompany a dull party of three or more. Mesmerists to be furnished to wakeful passengers wanting to go to aleen. Ill-natured old maids and troublesome children to be carried to their destination in mineral trains. Punctuality to be insured by hanging the Traffic Manager whenever there is the slightest cause for complaint. An édition de luxe of Bradshaw's Guide, translated into intelligible English, to be commenced immediately.

And Accidents—to be entirely abolished.

Punch on the Difficulties and Dangers of Rail Travel — Smokers, Finding a Seat, Lack of Privacy, and Crashes

Railway Staff, Difficult Passengers, and Enforcing the Class Divide

George Hudson and Owners of Railways

Text Image capture from Internet Archive. Text OCR from image with ABBYY software and formatting by George P. Landow]

Last modified 10 October 2019