Third-class carriage. Liverpool and Manchester Railways. c.1830. [Modern photograph of this car].

In the earliest days of railways there was little encouragement for third-class passengers to travel -- rather the reverse. Accommodation was provided in open trucks, but to those orders of society who had been accustomed to walk if they wished to travel anywhere, a ride in an open third-class carriage, even in the depths of winter, was no great hardship. The only change from braving the elements was that one had to brave the smoke and exhaust fumes from the locomotives. The amenities for second-class passengers lay midway between those of the 'firsts' and the 'thirds'. The carriages were open at the sides, but had a canopy over the top to keep out some of the weather. As the travelling habit began to grow, and many people who had never travelled in their lives began to venture on to the railways, the cry arose for better third-class carriages. One hears of coaches having holes drilled in the floors to let the water out, and on the other hand of a riotous company flinging empty bottles at men working on the line. Many a cherished top hat was lost when gusts of wind caused by the speed of the train caught its owner unprepared; though to be sure there was a certain clergyman who said he always travelled third class on the railway because there was not a fourth class! There were some seats in the open trucks; but more often than not there were far more passengers than seats and the earliest third-class trains bore a striking resemblance in the way passengers were huddled together to present-day rush-hour traffic on the London Underground." [O. S. Nock, p. 110]

Related Material


Nock, O. S. Steam Railways of Britain in Colour. "The Pocket Encylopaedia of World Railways." Illustrations by Clifford and Wendy Meadway. London: Blandford Press, 1967.

Last modified 11 September 2004