Fifty Years of Railway Life in England, Scotland and Ireland eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 279 pages of information about Fifty Years of Railway Life in England, Scotland and Ireland.

The London and North-Western was the first company to adopt the system of superannuation, the London and South-Western second, the Great Western came third, the Midland fourth, and other companies followed in their wake.

In 1873 the Railway Clearing House obtained Parliamentary power to form a fund for its staff, with permission to railway companies not large enough to successfully run funds of their own, and also to the Irish Railway Clearing House, to become partners in this fund.  The Irish Clearing House took advantage of this, as also have many railway companies, and practically the whole of the clerical service throughout the United Kingdom can to-day look forward to the benefits of superannuation.


On the last day of December, in the year 1872, between seven and eight o’clock in the evening, I arrived at Glasgow by the Caledonian train from Carlisle, and was met at Buchanan Street Station by my good friend Tom.

After supper we repaired to the streets to see the crowds that congregate on Hogmanhay, to make acquaintance with the mysteries of “first-footin’,” and to join in ushering in the “guid new year.”  It was a stirring time, for Scotchmen encounter their Hogmanhay with ardent spirits.  They are as keen in their pleasures as in their work.  Compare for instance their country dances with ours.  As Keats, in his letters from Scotland says, “it is about the same as leisurely stirring a cup o’ tea and beating up a batter pudding.”  The public houses and bars were driving a lively trade, but “Forbes Mackenzie” was in force, and come eleven o’clock, though it were a hundred Hogmanhays, they all had to close.  We met some new-made friends of Tom’s and joined in their conviviality.  I was the dark complexioned man of the party, and as a “first-footer” in great request.  We did not go home till morning, and reached there a little hilarious ourselves, but it was our first Hogmanhay and may be forgiven.

Dear reader, did you ever lie in a concealed bed?  It is a Scottish device cunningly contrived to murder sleep.  At least so Tom and I found it.  It was my fate to sleep, to lie I should say, in one for several weeks.  Its purpose is to economise space, and like Goldsmith’s chest of drawers, it is “contrived a double debt to pay,” a sleeping room by night, a sitting room by day.

Whilst Glasgow is a city of flats its people are resourceful and energetic.  Keen and canny, they drive a close bargain but, scrupulous and conscientious, fulfil it faithfully.  Proud of their city and its progress, its industries and manufactures, its civic importance, they are a little disdainful perhaps, perhaps a little jealous, of their beautiful elder sister, Edinburgh.  Glasgow is the Belfast of Scotland!

Self-contained houses are the exception and are limited to the well-to-do.  The flat, in most cases, means a restricted number of apartments, insufficient bedroom accommodation, and the concealed bed is Glasgow’s way of solving the difficulty.

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Fifty Years of Railway Life in England, Scotland and Ireland from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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