Thursday 23 February 2012

Train complaint letter from 1912 recalls 'sparks in face danger'

Train complaint letter from 1912 recalls 'sparks in face danger'

A quaint incident is recalled in this article about a letter of complaint to a railway company one hundred years ago, recently discovered at the National Railway Museum.

We've all likely had cause to complain about our railway service and every other day local and national news seems to feature stories of delay and incident, but this letter reminds us to spare a thought for railway passengers of the late 19th and early 20th Century, when rail travel was sometimes still a rather crude affair.  Right up until the early 1900s some train companies crammed third class passengers into open-top carriages with hard bench seats and the locomotives, as in this particular case, were often basic and open to spit flame and embers onto the more unfortunate travellers.


By the 1920s the likes of "Gazelle" (above) had - on passenger services at least - given way to the lovely steam locomotives we know and appreciate today, but this remarkable piece of social history shows how hit-and-miss things could be in the years beforehand.  I'm sure the letter will be an excellent edition to the museum's collection.


  1. How little changes- commuter woe vintage and modern!

  2. I was at the NRM only 2 days ago! As a bit of a H&S geek, I applaud the writer for bringing this risk to the attention of the railways. X


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