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Instructions for the royal train departing the Black Country

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: March 31, 2014

  • The London North Western Railway Royal Train

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REGULAR Bugle contributor Laurence Brownhill of Dudley is a keen collector of railway memorabilia and he has recently loaned to us a rare item, 136 years old.

It is a fragile sheet of paper issued by George Findlay, general manager of the London and North Western Railway, with instructions for the operating of the royal train on May 20-21, 1878, from Bushbury, Wolverhampton, to Carlisle.

It is believed that Queen Victoria was travelling from Windsor to Balmoral. If that was the case she would have travelled by the Great Western Railway from Windsor to Wolverhampton, then by the LNWR to Carlisle and from there by the Caledonian Railway.

Findlay's orders were as follows:

"General instructions for the working of the Royal Train on the 20th and 21st May, have already been sent you for distribution among the Company's servants.

I now request your personal attention to the carrying out of the following additional precautions:–

"The carriages forming the Royal Train must be specially examined and greased before leaving Windsor, and also at each stopping place on the journey.

"The guards, greasers, and carriage fitters must be selected from the most experienced hands.

"The engines employed must be in first-rate order, and every possible precaution taken to avoid failure in any part of the machinery.

"The enginemen, both of the Pilot and the Royal Train, must be the most steady and experienced drivers, and know the road well; the Locomotive foremen of the respective districts traversed by the Royal Train, and a Guard, supplied with Head Lamp and Fog Signals, should accompany the Pilot engine preceding it.

"Competent telegraph men will accompany the train with the necessary instrument and appliances by which a communication can be at one established at any place in case of need.

"The Pilot Engine, as well as the Royal Train, must be telegraphed in accordance with the detailed instructions; and telegrams sent to the Chief Traffic Manager's Office, denoting the time the Royal Train passes Bushbury, Stafford, Crewe, Warrington, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme, Tebay, Penrith and Carlisle.

"The Royal Train is furnished with continuous Breaks, and is also fitted up with an Electrical Communication between the compartments of each saloon and carriage and the guards, and with a communication between the guards and the drivers

"Electrical communication can be made with the Guards by pulling out, as far as it will come, the handle of the Communicator fixed in each compartment of the Royal Saloons and other carriages. The effect of doing so is to ring the bell continuously in the van next the engine, and in the van at the rear of the Train.

"Should the communication be thus used, it will be the duty of the Guard in the van next the engine to ring (by means of the cord fixed in his van) the bell on the roof of his van, to attract the attention of the look-out man on the engine; and the breaks in both vans also be instantly applied, and the Train brought to a stand as soon as possible.

"A 'Look-out Man' must be placed on the Engine Tender of the Royal Train, and must keep his face towards the rear of the Train so as to observe any Signal that may be given.

"All Level Crossings, Farm Crossings, and the stations must be specially guarded to prevent trespassers.

"All facing points over which the Pilot and Royal Train will have to pass must be securely bolted. G. Findlay, Euston Station, 17th May, 1878."

In those days, unlike today, there was no single royal train but as the network was operated by several companies, each had their own royal train which was pressed into service when needed.

Queen Victoria became the first British monarch to travel by train on June 13, 1842, when she went by the GWR from London to Windsor.

The first special royal carriage was built in 1842 by the London and Birmingham Railway for Dowager Queen Adelaide, the widow of William IV. At that time Adelaide was living at Witley Court as tenant of William, Lord Ward, later Earl of Dudley.

Queen Victoria is reputed to have drawn the curtains of her railway carriage when passing through the Black Country, although she is said to have done this at other places too.

Have you any railway memorabilia or photographs to share with readers? Contact dshaw@blackcountrybugle.co.uk or write to our editorial address.

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