The Liverpool and Manchester Railway

The Liverpool and Manchester Railway. “Painted by T. T. Bury, engraved by S. G. Hughes.” Source: Muir's Bygone Liverpool, Plate 88.

Text accompanying the engraving

Passenger accommodation in the early days of railway travelling was different from that accorded to present-day travellers, and these pictures show the mode of travelling when the railway was in its infancy. A first-class train generally consisted of five coaches; but if anyone chose to ride in his own equipage, a truck was provided on which it was carried. The coaches were strongly built on the model of the best stage coaches; each coach was divided into three compartments, and each compartment contained six seats, comfortably upholstered. Passengers' luggage was carried on the top of each coach, and the guard of the train rode on the top of the first coach. When the Mail was carried a special coach was attached to the train, and on the top of it the Royal Mail man sat at the end. The coaches were hung on fairly easy springs; each coach was named, and the seats numbered. Passengers' tickets consisted of a narrow slip of paper, partially printed, the name of the coach and the amount paid being carefully written upon them at the time of booking. The locomotive was the most recent and powerful, and the speed was greater than that of the second-class train. At first there were no springs on the buffers, and the couplings were merely loose chains; but the railway was not many years old when Henry Booth of Liverpool, its first secretary and manager, invented the ball-and-screw coupling which is used in its original form at the present day; and on his statue in St. George's Hall a model of that most useful invention is carved in marble. He also invented spring buffers, and lubricating appliances for the carriage axles, all of which are substantially the same on the railways to-day.

The second-class train also consisted of five coaches, much inferior in comfort to those of the first-class. They were open at the sides; the seats were narrow and bare, and the backs were short and straight; moreover the coach-springs were stiffeer and the vibration was much greater than that of the first-class coaches. The locomotive was seldom of a recent type; the speed was slower; and the train was sometimes shunted in order to allow the first-class train to pass.

There was also another class of train. It consisted of trucks entirely uncovered, some being provided with rough seats, and others having no seats at all. Those with seats were called "outside" carriages, and those without "third-class" carriages. [89]

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Formatting and text by George P. Landow. You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Internet Archive and the University of Toronto and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.


Muir, Ramsey. Bygone Liverpool illustrated by ninety-seven plates reproduced from original paintings, drawings, manuscripts, and prints with historical descriptions by Henry S. and Harold E. Young. Liverpool: Henry Young and Sons, 1913. Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of Toronto Library

Last modified 13 January 2013