Excursions and Holidays

In the days before motor coaches and widespread car ownership, the railways provided the primary means of making excursions and going away on holiday.

Excursions comprising special trains, or carriages added to normal trains, were organised by the LNWR, travel agents such as Thomas Cook or by other organisations such as clubs. These trains were formed of sets of carriages, usually the older ones, kept for this purpose or of regular sets when not required for ordinary services over weekends or holiday periods. Sometimes, dining cars were included in the trains for more prestigious outings.

Excursions were arranged to seaside resorts, spa towns, large cities, football matches, county shows, fairs and large exhibitions, such as the 1851 Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park. For the Liverpool International Exhibition of 1886, the LNWR built a temporary station adjacent to the site, which was immediately north of the Edge Hill marshalling yard.

To give the passengers as long as possible at their destination, departures were often quite early at 5.30 or 6 am, return departures being around 8 pm or later arriving home in the early hours of the next day.

The company provided Picnic Saloons for Sunday School and club outings. These were open saloon carriages usually with bench seating along each side and tables down the centre, with one or two lavatories. Seating capacity ranged from 18 to 48, with most saloons classified as Third class, as illustrated here. The first-class saloons seated either 16 or 18.

The LNWR advertised holidays throughout the UK in its brochures and handbills and produced a booklet listing hotels, boarding houses and farmhouses in the holiday areas. Tickets for travel for day excursions, weekend, weekly or two weekly stays were sold in the company’s town offices and station ticket offices. There were also tickets for Pleasure Parties, Tourists and for circular tours in holiday areas.

More well to do families could take their whole household on holiday by hiring a Family saloon with seating compartments for the family and their servants, plus lavatories and luggage accommodation all connected by a central corridor.  The carriages had seating for between 10 and 12 First class passengers plus between 2 and 8 servants. These carriages were attached to regular trains. Families could even take their own horse-drawn carriage and horses in carriage trucks and horseboxes attached to the same train.