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Thursday, 7 October 2010

Getting Around London in 1901

More charming and helpful information for turn-of-the-century tourists to London from “Kron: The Little Londoner” the writer who loved a bracket or two. This time on the best ways on the best ways to get around London in 1901:

Underground Railways. – Underground London is crossed in all directions by tunnels for the trains (about 1400 daily on one City line) of the Underground (Metropolitan and District) Railways. The three Electric Railways leading to and from the heart of the City are also underground; two of them even pass under the Thames. A third underground electric line, the new Central London Railway, (opened in 1900), runs from the City (Liverpool Street) to Shepherd’s Bush, passing under the large thoroughfare of Cheapside, Oxford Street, Uxbridge Road.

Thames Steamboats. – Numerous steamboats ply on the Thames, of course, weather permitting. The fares are very low (½ d. to 2d.) London Bridge is the point of departure. The boats as a rule call at all the piers.

Tramways. – Trams* are not permitted within the City of London; nor in the West End; but they are very popular in the other parts. Like railways, they run on iron rails laid on the road-way of the streets. We distinguish electric trams (also called motor cars, moved by electricity), steam- trams (drawn by steam-engines), and horse-trams (drawn by horses driven by a driver – some are drawn by mules). The London tram-cars have seats inside and outside (or on the top); standing on the platform is forbidden. The conductor collects (or receives) the fares, asking for them by a set phrase: “Fares, please!” In London, the fare is the same for inside and outside (or top) seats. Every passenger gets a small ticket on which are marked the amount for the fare, and the distance he rides. Many people prefer riding on the top; here you have the advantage of seeing more of the traffic, the air is far fresher, and you may smoke if you feel inclined.
*Tram is an old Teutonic word meaning “log of wood, beam”; the tram-road was at first a log-road on which (miner’s) tracks were pushed or drawn along.

Omnibuses (or Buses) are much the same as the tram-cars; only they do not run on rails, and are, as a rule, drawn by two horses. Most of the ‘buses have special names. The fares and tickets are like those of the trams. On the so-called “pirates” or “pirate- buses” (belonging to private proprietors), the passengers receive no ticket, and are asked a higher fare than is usual; they are simply robbed of their money by the conductors who pocket the balance (or excess charged), and therefore keep hailing (or inviting) passers-by to get in. there is a tariff (or table of fares) inside every omnibus.
The “rule of the road” for all vehicles is to keep to the left; passengers will therefore have to wait for the ‘bus or tram on the left side of the street which they intend to take. When all seats are taken (or engaged), the ‘bus or tram is said to be “full up”; often it is only “full inside”.

Coaches. – in fine weather, elegant coaches, frequently driven by their owners, run from London to various places in the vicinity (e.g. to Richmond , Kew &c.). The fares are rather high.

Cabs, &c. – When in a hurry, I take a cab (or two-wheeler), or a four-wheeler – the latter in case I have much luggage. The London cabs are called hansoms  from (the name of) the inventor. They are usually open in front, and have the driver’s seat elevated behind. The fares are reckoned by distance (or by journey), unless the cab is expressly hired (or taken) by time (or by the hours) The London cabmen (colloquially: cabbies) are good whips, that is to say, they are noted for their skilful and fast driving. Motor cabs (or electric cabs, electromobile cabs) are hardly to be seen about the London streets.
Cycling. – The (bi)cycle (or wheel, machine) nowadays is the most popular of all means of locomotion in every grade of society, and for both sexes. There are two kinds of cycles, viz., the bicycles (having 2 wheels), and the tricycles (having 3 wheels). Among the former, the most popular machine is the safety (-bicycle), the wheels of which are (nearly) of equal height. Safeties for ordinary use are called roadsters, those for racing, racers. There are also junior (i.e. boys’ and girls’) machines. The tricycle is in particular favour with (or among) elderly wheelmen. Another kind of cycle is the tandem, a 2- or 3-wheeled machine for 2 or more persons, in which one rider sits behind the other. – The principal parts of a cycle are the wheels with tangent spokes, the framework, saddle, pedals (i.e. cranks and treads), chain, handle-bars, brake, mud-guards, gear-case, bell, lamp, and tool-bag. The wheels have tyres (also spelt tires) of India-rubber; hollow pneumatic tyres filled with air are most in favour they are filled by means of a small air-pump. Solid and cushion tyres are no longer up-to-date. – Chainless cycles and motor-cycles are the latest novelties.

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