Your Train is Too Ugly

Like most people who use the train, you are likely to want to have the train come on time and to get a seat. Probably the last thing on your mind is how good-looking the locomotive pulling the carriages is? But that was the main criticism when the first train serve started up in London. It ran from the City to Greenwich.

    The whole idea of these contraptions replacing the horse-drawn carriages of the past made a big impression on the masses. As the train made its journey to and from Greenwich, large crowds would turn out to see this new marvel of the age. If, however, you were a passenger, then you were not like most of the people watching. Train travel was considered a luxury and didn’t come cheap. I know, you are all shouting out, so, what’s changed?

    But the people watching had another problem; they didn’t like the look of the locomotive. It was ugly compared with the brightly painted horse-drawn coaches they were used to. So much criticism was aimed at the company running the train service, the London and Greenwich Railway or L&GR, that they decided to do something about it. And they didn’t hold back.

How Ugly is this Train?

    The makers of the locomotive were a company called Braithwaite & Milner and when an engineer approached them with the observation that the overhead viaducts that carried the train, looked like the old Roman viaducts which carried water, they made a decision. They designed an engine which looked like a Roman galley. It was built and it was a big success. More and more people turned out just to see this new “ship” pass them by on land.

    Unfortunately, the enthusiasm didn’t last. People got used to the idea of the “ship train” and as these things go, they soon lost interest. And with that, locomotives returned to their usual look. But overall, that didn’t matter as train travel had arrived and it wasn’t going away. Today, those of you who regularly use the crowded commuter trains might wish that you were aboard a real boat.

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