Day-trips from Hitchin
By Nigel Agar
Life in the nineteenth century was not all work. When the railways were established in Hertfordshire, some of the companies were keen to increase their trade by offering holiday excursions.
The examples shown are from Hitchin which was served by the Great Northern Railway from 1850 and the Midland Railway from 1857. Among the various outings offered at fares which could be 10 shillings (50P) (first class) or 5 shillings (second class) by covered carriages with, perhaps, half price for children were regular trips into London for the pantomimes or the boat race, Derby Day at Epsom and trips to the Crystal Palace or fetes organised by the mutual friendly societies such as the Odd-Fellows, the Foresters or the Temperance Movement.
The GNR co-operated with other companies to lay on trips to the seaside- Ramsgate, Margate and Broadstairs or Brighton. The Great Eastern Railway put on trips to Hunstanton and Great Yarmouth while the Midland Railway went to follow the Oakley Hunt at Bedford, to go to Leicester Fair or Nottingham Goose Fair and the Spa facilities at Buxton, Matlock or Bakewell.
One somewhat surprising feature of these obviously popular outings was that they were hardly ever at a weekend, let alone on a Sunday which might have attracted severe opposition from religious authorities.