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Q: Railway in Victorian Britain ( Answered,   2 Comments )
Subject: Railway in Victorian Britain
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: face69-ga
List Price: $60.00
Posted: 06 Dec 2005 05:55 PST
Expires: 05 Jan 2006 05:55 PST
Question ID: 602115
What social and political effects did the emergence of the railway in
victorian britain have on the lower classes?
Subject: Re: Railway in Victorian Britain
Answered By: tutuzdad-ga on 06 Dec 2005 09:04 PST
Dear face69-ga;

Thank you for allowing me to answer your interesting question. In the
early days of the British railroad companies sought to cater
specifically to the high class and tried without success to operate
trains that included only first and second-class carriages that were
outside the financial reach of most of the common labor class. Railway
companies also avoided the lower classes by avoiding regular stops at
every train station, so while the train did traverse certain areas it
remained unavailable to many as a transportation option simply because
it did not stop for them.

In 1844 the Railways Act mandated that at least one train a day must
stop at every station and in addition it must include third class
carriages affordable to the majority. Suddenly large numbers of
Victorians could afford to travel and through this means of transport
they could enjoy social experiences that were previously unavailable
to them. In essence the Railways Act was an early form of political
recognition of the lower class and as such it could be construed as a
precursor to a form of civil rights.

From a societal and cultural standpoint the railway single-handedly
opened the social door for the common man in Victorian Britain. Not
only was the railway a viable, efficient and affordable means of
necessary transportation but it also introduced leisure activities to
common Victorians. From this grew opportunities for holidays and day
trips ? a concept previously unknown among the working class. The
economy also benefited greatly from the railway as more and more
travelers expressed interest in organized races, sporting events,
seashore activities and shopping at places that were once beyond their
normal geographical reach. Cricket matches, for example soared in
popularity and the FA Cup Final, which was held for the first time in
1872 was crowded with spectators and future exhibitions would soon
know the exhilaration of road games, when special trains, sometimes
traveling with huge entourages many miles play against each other
became highly anticipated and commonplace events. The gains from these
travels are obvious as host cities saw remarkable income from tourism
that was impossible prior to the advent of the railway system.

For most working people, the important changes were the cheap day
returns that many railway companies started to offer. This enabled
workers to expand their employment possibilities and also provided an
option for them to take their wares and skills to a mush larger and
profitable market.

In large part, because of the railway, in 1871 Bank Holidays were
introduced and so began the great British tradition of the day at the
seaside. Commercial offerings sprang up in these areas and cultural
icons such as ?fish and chips? shops; fairs and carnivals and public
exhibits were born into the common British society as a direct result
of the railway. The popularity of the railway also gave birth to new
and long-lasting ritualism of travel for travel sake that would not
only change the face of opportunity and leisure for working class
people but would also dramatically affect the way the more prosperous
people valued the social and political impact, benefit and
contribution of the common man. The railway was, in every sense of the
word, the path by which the working class would ultimately prove
themselves worthy of social and political consideration and refute the
long-held notion that they were merely unfortunate drones; outcasts in
their own world in which they held a decided majority.

Frequently travelers liked what they saw on their excursions and many
of them relocated to places they had only heard about a generation
before. Seaside towns grew exponentially because of the railroads and
factories sprang up to utilize the increasing manpower, which also
served to accommodate the working class nicely. In turn, as with every
large economic boom, businesses also expanded. Dance halls, pubs, and
entertainment venues increased as did food, textile and alcohol sales
just to name a few. These places of course required performers,
songwriters, clerks and shopkeepers thereby offering even more
employment opportunities, more prosperity and even wider social
circles. Schools, churches and clinics are also a necessary part of
any successful society so there were more opportunities for health and
education for common people to better themselves physically,
spiritually and intellectually.

Finally perhaps, the railway, through it?s common purpose of
transporting people, afforded the working class people opportunities
to mingle with more sophisticated upper class members of Victorian
Britain, even if that experience was merely through close observation.
By seeing how the ?other half? lived commoners increased their own
social expectations and strived to achieve what had long since been
unattainable in the previous labor caste they were once doomed to

Both politically and socially the railway marked the beginning of the
end for the segregation of classes, with the degree of separation, as
it was known in years past. Though the class system would linger, even
to some extent to this day, the common class literally came into it?s
own as a socio-political entity to be reckoned with aboard the railway
system of Victorian Britain.

I hope you find that my answer exceeds your expectations. If you have
any questions about my research please post a clarification request
prior to rating the answer. Otherwise I welcome your rating and your
final comments and I look forward to working with you again in the
near future. Thank you for bringing your question to us.

Best regards;
Tutuzdad-ga ? Google Answers Researcher




A Study of the urban development of Wolverhampton during the Victorian era.



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Subject: Re: Railway in Victorian Britain
From: myoarin-ga on 06 Dec 2005 06:16 PST
Duplicate question.  You might delete this question to avoid them both
being answered and charged.
Subject: Re: Railway in Victorian Britain
From: face69-ga on 06 Dec 2005 07:22 PST
Can u confirm that only one question is being answered and charged for please?

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