Train Travel

"These Indian sleepers are not as comfortable as ours are... we have to take our own bedding, (sheets, pillows and comforter) a lavatory as always attached to each carriage... Packed and left for Jeypore [sic] at 10 o’clock. The Indian railway carriages all have lavatories and can be reserved by notifying the station...generally we were lucky enough to be alone. Papa and... Barratt getting one to themselves." 

Milly Harris diary entry, India 1897.

The world’s first steam-powered railway, Stockton & Darlington, opened in 1825 in Northeastern England; by the 1840s, railways could be found across the country (Railways during the Victorian Era, 2019). In North America, the Canadian Pacific Railway began construction in 1881, 56 years after Stockton & Darlington, and reached completion in 1885; the CPR was built with the purpose of connecting Canada and its people from one coast to the other (Canadian Pacific, Our history). 

"Reached London a few minutes ahead of time, at 11.20. The country looked burnt but prosperous just now the... C.P.R. are having a war so we got home on...$6.00 a person from Montreal to London—just half one ordinary fare. The sleepers are just the same price $2.00 a night. These deductions must be very hard on the companies" 

Milly Harris diary entry, August 21, 1898.

The quotation above is taken from one of Milly’s diary entries written about her return home after the family’s year-long trip. The “war” she mentions is likely in reference to the ongoing battle between certain railway workers and the Canadian Pacific Railway. 1897 saw an attempt to create a union for railway workers; this first unionization attempt failed, but gave rise to a second attempt, which would see more, albeit short-lived, success: In September of 1898 (less than one month after this diary entry was written) the United Brotherhood of Railway Employees (UBRE) was formed, an organization which would continue to fight with the CPR until the UBRE’s demise in 1903 (Tuck, 1983).

"Left Constantinople...on Sunday May 8. We had a large compartment to ourselves. The first night and day were very comfortable. This train is 7 hours slower than the Orient Express but it suited us as leaving on Thursday... It was also much cheaper. Having our own lunch basket we were independent of the restaurants which did not look attractive...We were glad that we had decided not to go to Buda Pest by steamer as we passed in the railway along the banks of the Danube and thought that we would have found the river trip monotonous."

Milly Harris diary entry, May 6, 1898.