Friday, 6 January 2017

A Matter of Class

The Liverpool & Manchester, in introducing coaching stock and it's fares, unsurprisingly based them on existing Stage-Coach ideas. "First" class meant express, for inside passengers. Second-class was a coach - or in this case a train - which stopped at all the intermediate "stopping places". The Liverpool & Manchester also followed Stage-Coach practice by providing accommodation for "Inside" and "Outside" passengers. On a Stage-Coach the outside passenger sat on the roof, but this was not a safe practice on the railways so entire coaches - and trains - for "outside passengers" who paid a reduced fare were also introduced. They were referred to the by Company as the "Blue Coaches" (from their colour).

Class - a matter of comfort, speed... or Both?

But it would be a mistake to say that the enclosed yellow "First Class" coaches were first-class only; whilst they provided the same level of accommodation as a Stage-Coach for "Inside Passengers", we have to remember that Stage Coaches provided both a "First Class/Express" and also setting down service. Entire trains were run of differant types of accommodation and whether they were Express or "setting down".

The timetable for June 1839 makes this distinction quite clear

By first-class train, four inside, Royal Mail Coach 6s 6d
By first-class train, six inside, Glass Coach 6s
By first-class train, six inside, Curtain Coach 6s
By second-class train, six inside, Glass Coach, 6s
By second-class train, Open Carriages 4s 6d
In other words, there were three levels of "First Class" ie Express accomodation: by the Mail Coach (of which the L&M had three) which sat four per compartment; by "Glass Coach" which sat six per compartment and by the semi-open "Curtain Coach" which had a glazed central compartment but the two end compartments had leather curtains to keep out the elements, for those passengers who wished to travel at First Class speed, but in an open coach.

If we turn to second class trains, there were two levels of accommodation: the "Glass Coaches" seating six per compartment, fully enclosed or by Open Carriages (each compartment sitting eight).
"First Class" and "Second Class" - not such a matter of accommodation, more of speed.

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