19th Century Humanities


Taken from Parliamentary Papers, 1844, XI, pp. 9-11. Added by Marjie Bloy Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, National University of Singapore.

This was one of the early pieces of railway legislation passed by parliament; it was the result of the work of Gladstone, the President of the Board of Trade in Peel's second ministry. Because of clause 11, the Act became known as the 'Parliamentary Train Act'.

  1.   That the powers to be granted by any Act of the present or future Sessions of Parliament, for the construction of new Lines of Railway, whether Trunk, Branch, or Junction Lines, shall be subject to the following conditions:-
  2.   That if, at the end of a term of years to be fixed, the annual divisible Profits upon the paid-up Share Capital of any such Line of Railway shall be equal to a percentage to be fixed, or so soon after the expiration of the said term as the said percentage shall have been reached, it shall be in the option of the Government either, first, to purchase the Line at the rate of a number of years' purchase, to be fixed, of such divisible Profits; or secondly to revise the fares and charges on the Line, in such manner as shall, in the judgment of the Government, be calculated to reduce the said divisible Profits, assuming always the same quantity and kinds of annual traffic to continue, to the said percentage: but with a guarantee, on the part of the Government to subsist while such scale of fares and charges shall be in force, to make up the divisible Profits to the said percentage.
  3.   And also, that at or after the end of the said term of years, it shall be in the option of the Government to purchase the Line at the said number of years' purchase of the annual divisible Profits, whatever be the amount of such Profits.
  4.   That the term of years be fifteen, to date from the next following first of January after the passing of the Act for the construction of the Railway.
  5.   That the Companies may be required to provide upon such new Lines of Railway, as aminimum of third-class accommodation, one Train at least each way on every week-day, by which there shall be the ordinary obligation to convey such passengers as may present themselves at any of the ordinary stations, in carriages provided with seats and protected from the weather, at a speed not less than 12 miles an hour including stoppages, and at fares not exceeding a penny per mile; each passenger by such Train being allowed not exceeding 56 lbs. of luggage without extra charge, and extra luggage being charged by weight at a rate not exceeding the lowest charge by other Trains; Children under Three years being conveyed without extra charge; and children from Three to Twelve years at half-price.
  6.   That the tax upon the receipts from such conveyance of third-class passengers should not exceed one half of any duty that may be laid upon the general traffic of Railways
  7.   That the Board of Trade have a discretionary power of dispensing with any of the above requirements, and of allowing alternative arrangements which shall appear to it to be better calculated to promote the public convenience upon any particular Railway; and that the Board of Trade have a discretionary control over the Train which satisfies the above minimumrequirements, as regards times of starting, nature of accommodation, arrangements with connecting Lines, and other points of detail, subject to the above general principles, and to the understanding that such control is to be limited to the Train in question.
  8.   That Companies shall be bound to convey upon such new Lines military and police forces, and public stores, baggage, and ammunition, on the requisition of the proper authorities, at fares not exceeding 1d. per mile for each private, and 2d. per mile for each officer, with the usual accommodation, and at charges not exceeding 2d. per ton per mile for stores and baggage; the same quantity of personal luggage being allowed free of charge to each officer and private as to each ordinary first and second-class passenger respectively; and the carriages in which such forces are conveyed being, whenever so required by the proper Authorities, provided with seats and protected against the weather.
  9.   That upon such new Lines the Post-office be empowered to required the transmission of the Mails (subject to the usual conditions as to payment for services performed by Railway Companies) at any rate of speed certified by the Inspector-general to be consistent with safety; and also to send a mail-guard with bags not exceeding the weight allowed for an ordinary passenger's luggage (or subject to the rules of the Company for any excess of that weight) by any of the ordinary Trains, upon the same terms and conditions as an ordinary passenger: it being understood, that this power shall not authorise the Post-office to require the conversion of a regular Mail Train into an ordinary Train, nor to exercise any control over the Company in respect of any ordinary Train.

Primary Source
                                                                                                                                                             By: Ingrid Liu 

This website is created and organized by the George P. Landow and the article is written by Marjie Bloy. Marjie Bloy is a teacher who taught in the secondary school for eighteen years and was educated in the University of London in the course of history. Her background gives us an assurance to the primary sources. However the description of the article is part of an act that is created by various train operators to provide third class passengers with a minimum standard of service, therefore the act is not created by Marjie Bloy. The date in which the Victorian Web was created was not stated, but the article was last modified on July 2, 2002. The original parliament was officially published on 1844, however, the main article was published in Singapore by a researcher in National University of Singapore.
This document first existed because it was the cheaper option for those who can afford, thus creating a letter of law to run the third class facilities. The author created this piece of work to reflect to those who wanted a better railway regulation. The author used this particular format because it’s supposed to be an “Act”. The intended audiences were for those to take the Railway systems back in the 1840s. The document says that third class facilities will be improved since working people were increasingly travelling long distances to find employment in the growing industrial centers. It implied that people who were not satisfied, starting forming opinions, thus making its voice to the legislation to create a minimum standard for rail passenger travel.
According to how the author worded his vocabulary, he is probably a person from a high class and has a high status in a society. The period in which the article was produced explained much about the societal life in Britain during the mid-1800s. Under the circumstances of the need of better quality in railway systems, the piece is created. This piece reflected the circumstances by creating laws and rules to upgrade and enhance what the railway system once was. The author represented a particular “side” of the event by stating what needed to be changed to gratify those who wanted change. It showed that he was highly concerned about the feelings and very aware of how the residents wanted so that he can make his endeavor to improve by enforcing a law.

The part of the story of how the residents actually felt about this passed law was not told from this document. We could verify the content of this piece by checking with people who were also historians and is offering to explain part of this primary source. Due to the seriousness in the content of this piece, the other areas and perspective were not shown because it is a must-not to show opinions in the act of passing laws.


1)      A) Which main topic does the artifact relate to? In what ways? 
            This artifact relates to communication and transportation revolution because this article is a law passed to make people feel more comfortable going from place to place under the same rules. The revolution stands in the part where a new line of railway was constructed. Communication is where people starting asking for better qualities in railway systems.
         B) Which other main topics does it also relate to? 
            This artifact can also relate to urbanization and the construction of modern city because making a new line of railway is equal to constructing the modern city through transportation.
2) Why did you choose this artifact, and how much time did you spend creating and/ or processing it?    
            I chose this artifact because reading different various kinds of primary sources makes me understand the whole scenario better. The way how the laws are worded and what exactly the laws were.
3) What insights and understanding have you gained from the creation and/or processing of this artifact?    
            It made me learn the exact laws passed about railways in the 19th century.
4) Does this artifact reflect your best work and/or ideas? Why, or why not?    
            This artifact doesn't really reflect my best work because I can't really express my ideas through OPVL questions since the topic is limited through questions.
5) Rate this artifact on a scale of -5 to 5 for the following 4 criterion:   
           A) impact on the quality of your portfolio                     2   
           B) Impact on your level of happiness/enjoyment           2 
           C) impact on your learning                                          3   
           D) Level of creativity and originality                            1 
6) Any additional comments.