Victorian London - Transport - Railways, Above Ground - Lines

Railways. -. The success of the Liverpool and Manchester line, which opened in 1830, soon led to plans for the formation of railways in all parts of the kingdom. Of the major part of these, as in the case of roads, the metropolis is the grand centre; and the following have their commencement here: - the Birmingham, at Euston Square; Great Western, at Paddington; South-western or Southampton, at Nine Elms, near Vauxhall;. Greenwich, Croydon, South-eastern or London and Dover, and the Brighton, at Duke Street, London Bridge; the Blackwall, at Fenchurch Street; the Eastern Counties, and Northern and Eastern, at Shoreditch.

Mogg's New Picture of London and Visitor's Guide to it Sights, 1844

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Railways.—Though it would be decidedly a triumph of ingenuity so to construct an equal number of miles of railway as give less practical accommodation than is given at present, the London railway system is so vast that it serves every portion of the metropolis. There are one or two maps (see MAPS) specially devoted to the elucidation of this iron labyrinth, but to attempt any mere verbal explanation would be futile. Enough that the North London takes the principal east and west traffic of the northern outskirts, dropping down from Dalston Junction into the heart of the city at Liverpool-street; that the London and Brighton Company’s line, and the London Chatham, and Dover Company’s line, from Victoria to London bridge and Ludgate-hill respectively, perform a somewhat similar office for the southern outskirts; and that the internal work is done by the Charing-cross Railway—thence to Cannon-street —and by what is popularly known by the general name of “the Underground,” which really consists of two distinct railways, the Metropolitan and the Metropolitan District. Trains on these last two lines succeed one another so rapidly and branch off on so many different routes, that it is advisable to make very sure before reaching Gloucester-road on the District, or Edgware-road (Chapel-street) on the Metropolitan, that you are in your proper train. Up to these points all west-going trains are equally available, It will be a help in selecting your train to bear in mind that the ordinary inner circle trains between Aldgate and Mansion House direct carry one white lamp on the engine, and trains between the same points by way of Addison-road two white lights, one vertically above the other. Hammersmith trains on the District line carry two white lights on the same level, and on the Metropolitan, a white and a blue light, sometimes —for the blue light is usually very feeble—liable to be mistaken for the single white light of the short route trains. On the District line trains running through to Richmond carry an additional white lamp; on the Metropolitan such trains carry two blue lamps. The Broad-street trains on the District line—via Addison-road and Willesden--carry two while lights “in a slantindicular direction.” All the District stations, and a few of the Metropolitan, have a shifting board suspended just by the entrance to the platform, on which are inscribed the stations served by the train next due. There are also at many stations boards indicating the points at which travellers of the various classes should wait for the carriages they require. It is worth remembering by those to whom it is otherwise indifferent which line they take, that on the Metropolitan line, if you find it convenient to go on to a station beyond that marked on your ticket, you will be compelled, even though the fare from the starting point be the same, to pay the full amount chargeable between the two stations. On the District line every ticket is available to the full extent of the fare it represents, irrespective of the precise destination for which it may originally have been issued. Metropolitan and District trains are invariably made up with the second class carriages at the Aldgate and third-class at the Mansion House, or—in the case of trains running from either of these stations to Hammersmith —at the Hammersmith end; the mixed first and second smoking-carriage being the last of the seconds. This rule, however, does not hold good with the foreign trains running over the District line. The three great exchange junctions are Clapham Junction on the S. Western, Addison-road on the Gt. Western, and Willesden on the N. Western; from either of which points you may you’re your way easily to almost any other.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879