1st class passengers 3rd class passengers

Left: Sir John Everett Millais's woodblock illustration of first-class passengers, "Waiting at the Railway Station," from the periodical Good Words. Right: Gustave Doré's illustration of third-class passengers at a station" from London: A Pilgrimage(1872). These pictures do not appear in the print source. Click upon them to produce larger images.

The social pattern in the nineteenth century was altered by railways probably more than by anything else, at any rate for moving about in bulk. In the early days of railways this applied, somewhat naturally, to the richer passenger. The few coppers required for a five-mile journey to the nearest market town was a lot to the poorer class of passenger who might, with luck, be earning ten shillings a week, with a wife and several children to support. (Railway labourers on the permanent way received an average of about 16 shillings a week in the 1860s.) Country people tended to stay where they were, in any case, and if they had to go anywhere at all, within reasonable limits, would walk there and walk back, in the same way that, as children, they had walked several miles to school. This may partly account for the fact that, apart from the staff, the working classes do not appear to have been photographed very much, except for a few well-known and frequently published pictures. [no pagination]


Spence, Jeoffry. Victorian and Edwardian Railways from Old Photographs. London: B.T. Batsford, 1975.

Last modified 19 October 2007