Plotting Passengers at a Metropolitan Station: Paddington in the Mid-Nineteenth Century

Paddington in the MidNineteenth Century

Nicola Kirkby

Thomas de Quincey complained in 1849 that ‘the crowds attending at a railway station have as little unity as running water, and own as many centres as there are separate carriages in the train’.1 Two years later a frustrated journalist for the Spectator built on the sentiment, noting that ‘confusion is not limited to any one station or time. Under ordinary circumstances, at busy parts of the day, the rule is confusion’, but particularly at ‘almost any of the London stations’.2 Unregulated passenger movement through stations contrasts starkly with track-bound, carefully timetabled movement of the engines and trains. Increasing popularity of railway travel in Britain by the mid-nineteenth century meant that London stations and other points of interchange were susceptible to the kind of confusion de Quincey describes.

How might a nineteenth-century station designer approach the challenge of anticipating and directing public movement through an industrial space? Using Isambard K. Brunel’s design of Paddington Station in the 1850s as a case study, this chapter investigates how coding passenger movement could help engineers and station managers streamline the transition from street to railway, and why this was necessarily a creative process. By bringing Brunel’s sketches and plans into dialogue with imaginative depictions of Paddington, I demonstrate how station design encouraged outbound travellers to channel or code themselves according to class, departure time and destination, thereby plotting public movement. Creative interpretations of Paddington - including William Powell Frith’s painting The Railway Station (1862) and a scene in Anthony Trollope’s novel The Small House at Allington (1864) - help bring into sharp focus distinctions between the blunt coding of passengers in industrial space and the social complexity of metropolitan life. Sketchbook designs, narrative painting, journalistic accounts and fictional representations of Paddington were produced for very different purposes: thinking through questions of scale and proportion, bringing a new industrial space to life for readers and providing a stage for imaginative events concerning recognisable characters. The comparative readings in this chapter expose the particularities and limits of coded public mobility. Narrative sources

Paddington in the Mid-Nineteenth Century 97 illustrate why the authorial strategy of plotting - which offers imaginative expansiveness combined with generic categorisation - was integral to the conceptualisation of passenger movement.

This chapter contributes to long-standing critical engagement with public mobility, and demonstrates key procedures built into terminus space that continue to resonate in twenty-first-century travel. As Mona Domosh has asserted, nineteenth-century urban mobility was far from ‘democratic’, with ‘hidden codes of social performance’ shaping movement even in seemingly unmanaged space.3 Domosh argues that proposed and subverted social hierarchies structure the use of even unmarked space in nineteenth-century cities. In railway travel segregated waiting rooms, timetables and ticketing inscribe and embed such codes into railway space, promoting some self-awareness of social performance among passengers. Through design, the station draws out class demarcations that help ‘code ... social performance’ in public space more broadly, and proposes a formal set of manoeuvres to channel passengers appropriately. This chapter also builds on Tim Cresswell’s argument that ‘human agency is not ... easily structured, and structures themselves are made through the repetition of practices by agents.’4 Cresswell describes examples of public resistance in terms of ‘desire lines’, which are ‘a material manifestation of people’s desire to take short cuts’.5 In other words, these are paths that public participants carve out of (usually) urban space that are at odds with the routes set out through design. For the purposes of this chapter, then, effective coding is a compromise between passengers of different classes and the suggested routes built into railway space to inspire compliance. If the strategies Brunel introduced to code passenger movement proved to be too complicated, posed access problems or were at odds with existing social conventions, people were likely to resist them. As Peter Adey has noted, public trajectories through transport termini now tend to be tackled by computer simulation, allowing designers to visualise a wide range of possibilities.6 Of course, computers of this kind were unavailable in the mid-nineteenth century. Yet imagining the way that different kinds of people might behave when confronted with a particular set of circumstances was a familiar task if we approach potential passengers as fictional characters. Multiplot fiction, whose popularity and complexity increased between the 1840s and 1870s, developed alongside and in dialogue with the mass mobilisation of passengers by rail.7 This literary mode favoured by canonical nineteenth-century authors, including Charles Dickens, George Eliot and Anthony Trollope, often set an ensemble of characters from varying social classes into motion and imagined situations that put pressure on neatly demarked social strata. By coupling ‘plotting’, in terms of establishing the dimensions and layout of Paddington as a built space, with ‘plotting’ as an imaginative process that aligns imagined passenger types

William Powell Frith, The Railway Station, 1862, oil on canvas, 54.1 cm x 114 cm, Royal Holloway University London and Bedford New College Art Collection, London

Figure 4.1 William Powell Frith, The Railway Station, 1862, oil on canvas, 54.1 cm x 114 cm, Royal Holloway University London and Bedford New College Art Collection, London.

with particular trajectories, this chapter shows how Brunel wove passenger choice into his designs in an attempt to offer compliance.

Carefully plotted social ties take centre stage in William Powell Frith’s immensely popular painting The Railway Station (1862), which is set on Paddington’s departure platform. Following the success of his previous crowd scene Derby Day (1858), Frith built a reputation as an artist who painted for, and represented, the newly mobile middle classes.8 As much a study of a crowd as a station, this painting depicts a crush of passenger groups in front of a chain of carriages preparing to board a train. The crowd is more organised than de Quincey’s vision of ‘running water’. Frith roughly delineates characters according to class, with third-class passengers towards the left of the image, and first-class passengers on the right. Yet Frith maintains distinctions between groups assembled at Paddington in a way that extends beyond rough demarcations. The crowd has neither the disunity of running water nor the rigidity of systematic engineering; it is a carefully disorganised composition. As George Revill argues, ‘The Railway Station (1862) has all the qualities of a Victorian novel with its wealth of characters and incidents, plots and subplots.’9 For Revill, passengers flow through termini as characters flow through novels: unaware that they are being plotted. We will return to Frith’s painting later in the chapter, but to understand how it employs and resists passenger management strategies at play in Paddington in the mid-nineteenth century we must

Paddington in the Mid-Nineteenth Century 99 first interrogate the ways in which Brunel attempted to channel passengers through the station.

All Roofed In

Brunei’s ambition in producing a new industrial site for public use was not just a technological challenge: it was also an exercise in social engineering. From the outset, he hoped Paddington would ‘convey a correct idea of the purpose for which it had been erected, in this case, as a Railway Station’.10 While many new stations were erected in the aftermath of 1840s railway expansion, the aim to manage expectations through structure - together with the rich archival material detailing Brunei’s design process - distinguishes Paddington as a particularly apt case study for understanding how and why such sites helped direct passenger movement."

Before 1854 a makeshift and incongruous set of buildings in a residential area served as the Great Western Railway’s London terminus.12 The first iteration of Paddington prioritised locomotion over passenger movement. As Steven Brindle notes, designs for the temporary station ‘started ... with track layouts to plan the movement of rolling stock, fitting the movement of passengers and staff around that, and in turn fitting the buildings around these interlocking functions’.13 Beginning with the tracks as the terminus’s logical centre risked side-lining passenger experience. One commentator remarked:

from the Paddington Station, there is little to notice: the present arrangements are temporary only; a large plot of ground being set aside for the purposes of a permanent station. Nevertheless, we are struck with the vast space covered by the engine and carriage sheds and workshops.14

This vast, temporary station was out of keeping with Paddington’s increasing importance. As the mainline Great Western terminus it was both the beginning and the end of a railway connecting London with Reading, Bristol, Bath and Plymouth. Yet the West London site isolated Paddington from the city’s commercial and manufacturing centres which were important for those trading from sea ports on the west coast. Busy road and canal routes operated in Paddington’s vicinity, but the first station, which offered ‘little to notice’, did not mentally prepare passengers to transition between railway and metropolis. Within a ‘vast space’, this passenger turns to locomotive activity rather than reflecting on their own interaction with the station. While contemporary accounts of the first Paddington tend to pay close attention to the surrounding suburb, they offer little insight into how a passenger might move from street to train.

In a commissioning letter to Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt on 13 January 1851, Brunel outlined his ambitious vision for the Great Western Railway’s London terminus:

I am going to design in a great hurry and I believe to build a Station after my own fancy - that is with engineering ... It is at Paddington in a cutting admitting of no exterior, all interior, all roofed in. Now such a thing will be entirely metal as to all the general forms, arrangements and design.15

What did Brunel mean when proposing to build Paddington according to engineering principles, and how applicable were such principles to public industrial works? Civil engineers such as Brunel created logistically ambitious structures, drawing on a firm understanding of spatial dynamics and careful calculations to find material solutions to novel problems. Brunei’s contemporary Henry Law described ‘the Art of Civil Engineering’ as an application of ‘the general principles of mechanics’ ‘to the actual construction of various works, and their judicious use and modification to meet the several contingencies which arise in practice’.16 Where public utilities are concerned, one of the most contingent aspects is passenger flow, and Brunel’s emphasis on interior space and a metal frame here inform his approach to addressing passengers’ relative freedom to roam. Determined to lend coherence to the terminus, Brunel sought to develop a new genre of railway architecture. The 1854 Paddington was a ‘twinsided’ station that channelled arriving and departing passengers through separate wings; it is a well-documented example of a terminus design that was adopted widely in the mid-nineteenth century in and beyond Britain.1 Once built, these designs endured for almost half a century.18 Builder magazine notes: ‘the principle on which they set out was to avoid any recurrence to existing styles, and to try the experiment of designing everything in accordance with the structural purpose.’19 All within railway space, ornamental elements were incorporated only if they served a particular role in sustaining the station’s operations.

One of the most striking features that Brunel included in his early sketches was a triple-span iron-and-glass roof. In a sketch from 7 January, drawn several days before he contacted Wyatt, Brunel faintly depicts a figure with several lines radiating out from the eyes towards various points on the glass roof (Figure 4.2). Such figures were often used to depict scale in architectural plans, but here this suggestive addition indicates how a glass roof might also capture an observer’s attention. The figure gazes upwards rather than along the length of an unseen platform, as though responding to this impressive piece of engineering with awe reminiscent of an ecclesiastical setting. Brunel contemplated public engagement with Paddington’s atmosphere at an early stage, with

Isambard K. Brunel, ‘Sketch Designs for the Interior of Paddington Station’, 7 January 1851, The Brunel Institute, University of Bristol, DM162/8/1/1 Large Sketchbook 3/Folio 2

Figure 4.2 Isambard K. Brunel, ‘Sketch Designs for the Interior of Paddington Station’, 7 January 1851, The Brunel Institute, University of Bristol, DM162/8/1/1 Large Sketchbook 3/Folio 2. By courtesy of the Brunel Institute - a collaboration of the SS Great Britain Trust and the University of Bristol.

an emphasis on its loftiness as contributing to an authoritative space. The roof opens up the station’s affective dimensions. Wolfgang Schivel-busch saw metropolitan termini as ‘curiously dual’ structures that face both city and rail, but this sketch complicates this relationship between large-scale metropolitan stations and the populations they served.20 While Paddington being ‘all roofed in’ could have been claustrophobic, the glass roof admits enough light to amplify the station’s perceived spaciousness; it opens the space out, and provides room for as many imaginary journeys and anticipated connections as there were passengers under the arches.

Exactly a month after the new Paddington Station’s opening on 29 May 1854, a London station appeared in an imaginative piece in Leisure

Hour. Reference to an arched iron-and-glass roof and the publication date gesture towards Paddington as the writer’s likely inspiration. The first impression resonates with Brunei’s sketch:

A London railway station presents an aspect which constantly varies. At one hour you shall find it a cool promenade, where the footfall of the porter or the policeman reverberates from the lofty walls and the glazed roof in a silence broken now and then by the thundering echoes of a heavy hammer-stroke, or the crash of a ponderously loaded truck shunted suddenly into its place. The pleasant sunlight shimmers softly through the arching roof, and at the open end towards the country, you see the glistening rails winding onwards for miles, and converging to a point in the far perspective. As you stand gazing, a bell rings.21

Rather than delineating the space, this writer asks readers to imagine the ‘aspect’ and experience of standing within the station with an emphasis on spaciousness and sound. The atmosphere ‘constantly varies’, suspended between stillness and movement; silence and ‘thundering echoes’; enclosure under the ‘arching roof’ and escape ‘towards the country’; distraction ‘as you stand gazing’, and attention, as ‘a bell rings’. This carefully assembled station is poised, ephemeral and incomplete, with powerful and decisive engineering arranged within an enormous, open-ended glass cabinet. Rails ‘converging to a point in the far perspective’ give the impression of ‘desire lines’ without specifying a direct course through the station itself. While there is plenty of room for manoeuvre, ‘thundering echoes’ of the policeman’s footfall gesture towards the risks for any errant passenger. ‘Lofty walls’, light through glass, bells ringing, and awareness of authority render this scene more like a cathedral than an industrial space, sustaining the connotations established in Brunel’s sketch.22 Through affective association this article suggests that Paddington inspires compliance and willingness to fit into an unseen plan that is, nonetheless, difficult to understand.

Spaciousness similarly pervades an illustration of the completed Paddington station (Figure 4.3) in the Illustrated London News (1854). Architectural novelty dominates the image. The illustrator minimises human activity: a porter in the foreground further contributing to a sense of uniformity and functionality, and less distinct figures assemble further down the platform. Human absence contrasts with the sketch’s curiously dense and busy depiction of the station’s roof and many pillars and arches. This suggests that the Illustrated London News felt Brunel’s purpose-built station was primarily of material rather than social significance. Indeed, the accompanying article shares such emphasis on architecture by deferring to the Builder for much of its content and carefully quantifying the ‘189 wrought-iron ribs or arches’ that combined to form

‘Paddington Station’, wood engraving, Illustrated London News (8 July 1854)

Figure 4.3 ‘Paddington Station’, wood engraving, Illustrated London News (8 July 1854): 14. Illustrated London News Ltd/Mary Evans.

the roof.23 By comparing Paddington Station as depicted in these different media (sketch, prose, illustration), we can begin to draw out the imaginative space available in it. Throughout the written extract, for example, the writer’s fragmented attempts to attend to different sensory and material components of the station together produce a space not yet substantiated. The Illustrated London News image, by contrast, expresses Paddington’s stately architecture but little sense of the industrial and social processes that would take place there. All three examples offer impressionistic rather systematic depictions of the site, leaving passenger movement towards and through the station concourse as yet undefined. Each lacks a clear sense of desired trajectory as passengers move from street to train, though they do begin to account for the integral role of the imagination in lending coherence to the site.

Interior Coding

When plotting Paddington’s layout, Brunel devised a plan that mediated the pace and flow of a passenger’s departure.24 The clearest of Brunei’s room plans (Figure 4.4) outlines a chain of class-segregated booking offices and waiting rooms, luggage storage and a separate space for female passengers. These appear as two rows of rooms on the plan but represent what would be built as a single chain of rooms, with the upper row continuing to the right-hand side. The street ran beyond the lower edge of the sketch, and the railway concourse and platforms beyond the

Isambard K. Brunel, ‘Plan of a Railway Station, Possibly Paddington’, 5 January 1851, Brunel Institute, DM162/8/l/l/Large Sketchbook 1/ folio40

Figure 4.4 Isambard K. Brunel, ‘Plan of a Railway Station, Possibly Paddington’, 5 January 1851, Brunel Institute, DM162/8/l/l/Large Sketchbook 1/ folio40. By courtesy of the Brunel Institute - a collaboration of the SS Great Britain Trust and the University of Bristol.

upper edge. As a twin-sided station, Paddington separated departures from arrivals. To travel from street to platform, passengers would filter through the class-appropriate ticket office and waiting room, moving up through at least one of the rooms depicted on this plan.25 Surprisingly full details on Brunei’s early sketch include the area set aside for newspaper stalls, which could be accessed just beyond the offices, on the platform. Brunel evidently took it upon himself to detail the layout, proportion and purpose of these offices, rather than delegating interior work. This is significant because it suggests that Brunel recognised commerce and social filtering as part of the mechanism of the station. Opportunities to pick up newspapers, buy books and offload luggage to station porters could slow down the transition from street to platform and allow passengers a feeling of relative freedom while pursuing predictable ‘desire lines’.

By presenting passengers with a series of choices, Brunel provided some scope for personal preference in navigating Paddington. The rooms shown encourage passengers of different class backgrounds to follow separate routes through the station, even when travelling by the same train. In other words, they began to codify movement. Simon Bradley notes that ‘designers of stations in the nineteenth century commonly went to great lengths to ensure that the different classes could wait, as well as travel, in separate enclosures’.26 A passenger’s class status and gender could often be fairly accurately estimated at a glance, allowing station workers to determine roughly whether or not a passenger was moving along the right tracks. Such taxonomies are problematic to say the least, and no system that codifies human behaviour and identity can be politically neutral. Nonetheless, discrepancies between class and gender divisions at differently scaled stations in the 1850s suggest that it was the separation of passengers into smaller groups that designers including

Brunel desired, particularly after an upsurge in third-class travel following the British government’s instruction that companies accommodate such passengers from 1844 onwards.27 Some stations had only two waiting rooms and these were just as likely, Bradley argues, to be separated by gender as by class depending on the local community.28 Logistically, it was important to separate passengers into manageable flows as they moved from the street through the station, but the expression of this reflects the imbrication of social and commercial values into railway space, rather than mechanical demand for a particular kind of hierarchy.

Waiting rooms played an important role in helping to shape people’s expectations of how to move once on site, while also shielding them from the station’s diverse clientele. In these rooms, passengers could speculate on what elements from their immediate surroundings - other travellers, décor, reading material, irritations, luggage and so on - might accompany them on the train. In Rhoda Broughton’s ‘Under the Cloak’ (1873), for example, the protagonist finds herself surrounded in a full first-class waiting room and looks ‘curiously round at them, speculating as to which of them will be my companion or companions through the night’.29 Separating passengers into first, second and third class, and the use of ladies’ waiting rooms began to effect an equivalence between station and carriage space. Yet such blunt codification also left plenty of imaginative scope for passengers to plot their own course through the required channels and speculate about others’ trajectories by evaluating appearance in terms of class expectations. On varying scales, Brunel separated Paddington into different zones while also meeting the needs that passengers were likely to have on departure: waiting rooms, luggage stores, reading material. Leo Marx notes that by the 1840s, ‘the machine was being replaced as the typical embodiment of the new power by a new kind of sociotechnological system’, citing the railway as an early example of this kind of complex machine.30 In Marx’s definition, large-scale systems are a collaboration between human and non-human components. This compound, flexible term conveys the implicit rather than rigid conditions that would support the successful choreography of a terminal space. As a mechanism, the station’s waiting rooms compressed people into manageable channels but it did not necessarily limit their behaviour.

Nonetheless, passengers were encouraged to plan ahead to recognise how they would fit into this system soon after arriving at the station, if not beforehand. Timetables were well-known frustrations for some travellers by the 1850s, evident in Dickens’s parody of the notoriously indecipherable Bradshaw in ‘A Narrative of Extraordinary Suffering’ (1851).31 Such guides placed considerable strain on passengers’ patience and literacy. Mike Esbester argues that reading timetables requires at least some familiarity with the way that these documents codify information, noting that timetables ‘were matrices requiring the reader to perform a complex navigation’.32 Only if passengers were fluent in reading them could they arrive at the station with a clear sense of what to anticipate of their onward journey, and this was an exercise in trusting that the journey described in print would correspond to what would unfold. As a conceptual infrastructure with an entrenched connection to the rails, the timetable did a great deal of work in encouraging passengers to think of journeys as fixed. Once a passenger had identified their intention to travel by a certain route at a certain time, confusion and anger might arise when that passenger found that their journey could not be fulfilled exactly as projected. Again, Dickens’s journal All the Year Round fictionalises frustration arising from unmet expectations when a passenger tries to take a timetabled route from Peterborough to Hull only to be told that the ‘Hull train ceased running since they were printed’.33 Paul Virilio pithily articulates reliance on railway timetables in terms of faith, suggesting that ‘the cult of the train schedule’ was fictional to its core.34 Those who planned ahead and trusted the timetable arrived at the station already notionally coded, and Virilio’s term ‘cult’ suggests that they felt bound to this journey as read on the page, and were not open to the shifting demands of a live station. After navigating the confusion of the timetable, these passengers facing disruption would have to adjust and recode themselves accordingly. There was always the possibility of enquiring at the station, but the availability of railway guides and timetables on the walls contributed a tacit sense that one should be able to decipher such information without asking. Encouraging passengers to conduct themselves like information ready to be relayed through the station might initially seem like a difficult strategy to implement but passengers anxious to arrive at the correct destination were willing to take instruction. If the station was a sociotechnological system, then it was one structured around certain processes of self-coding that very quickly became convention.

Plotting and Coding: Frith and Trollope

Returning to Frith’s depiction of Paddington’s departure platform with coded passenger movement in mind reveals how Frith stage manages his painting with precision and detail that would have been impossible for Brunel to engineer in practice. Minor details invite the viewer to make much deeper value judgements of this crowd than those proposed by the terminus on the purchase of a ticket. Once appropriately coded or plotted by securing a ticket, passengers with time to spare before their train’s departure could resume less conditioned behaviour on the platform. Scattered luggage tags at the foot of the painting highlight the ephemerality of labels attached to passengers that pass through the station. While social class permeates nineteenth-century life in nuanced

Paddington in the Mid-Nineteenth Century 107 ways, the kinds of classifications inscribed on tickets and tags to help process passengers through an industrial space are comparatively simple, single-use and easily discarded meta-data. In a pamphlet written for The Railway Station’s exhibition, dramatist and critic Tom Taylor narrates a detailed past and something of a future for many of the figures, beginning with a proposed destination for the departing train - ‘Southampton or Portsmouth or Plymouth, to judge by the men-of-war’s-men among the passengers’.35 Taylor was engaged to promote the painting in his pamphlet, with a view to selling more engravings of the work during its exhibition.36 The exhibition consisted solely of this work; Taylor’s task, in part, was to bring movement to a scene at risk of appearing static to the crowds filing in front of it. In his description of various constituents of Frith’s crowd Taylor’s narration extends well beyond the incidents directly plotted in the painting, paralleling the retrospection and anticipation of passengers on the move. If moving through the railway terminus briefly compresses passengers into pre-determined data sets, then Frith shows us that this process is far from homogenising.

Indeed, one set of figures moves through the crowd without becoming part of it. Frith contrasts the front-view passengers with the backs of industriously engaged porters. Such figures function as stagehands in the terminus-as-backdrop rather than attaining parity with the vibrant, frenetic crowd. Station workers belong to an order set apart from the bulk of information on the terminus platform, falling outside the categories designed to filter passengers as efficiently as possible between street and train. The sole exception is a porter caught off guard, glancing over the shoulder of the richly dressed European traveller in the centre of the composition. For a moment, this porter deviates from his assigned function while on the platform, breaking character to observe the crowd in a way that contrasts with the Illustrated London News porter’s industrial uniformity. The inconsistency exposes the transience of crowd compliance in a station. If, through constant use, railway platforms develop into peculiarly generic sites, then Frith demonstrates how even slight deviations from expected behaviour stand out and pique narrative interest.

By staging a climactic scene on the arrival platform at Paddington in The Small House at Allington, Anthony Trollope exposes the transience of self-coded identities within railway space. Contemporaries and present-day critics both describe Trollope’s productivity as a multiplot novelist in industrial terms, with Trollope himself describing his fiction as ‘mechanical stuff’ when explaining how he could mass-produce multiplot fiction.37 As Susan Zieger has noted, Trollope was a ‘masterful logistician’ in his work for the Post Office.38 His professional background and his authorship of socially intricate novels meant that he was particularly concerned with the intersection of social and industrial conventions. The narrator warns against the social dangers of miscoding oneself when a middle-class clerk picks up a ticket at a local station:

[Johnny Eames] got into the train at Guestwick, taking a first-class ticket, because the earl’s groom in livery was in attendance upon him. Had he been alone he would have gone in a cheaper carriage. Very weak in him, was it not? Little also, and mean? Mv friend, can you say you would not have done the same at his age?39

Being able to purchase a ticket of a certain class, the narrator sympathetically suggests, is not the same as being socially entitled to one, and in this novel the distinction matters. Trollope depicts Eames en route to London in the uncomfortable position of sharing a first-class railway compartment with his adversary Adolphus Crosbie, using the circumstance of the ticket to justify the unlikelihood of these characters’ paths crossing in a multiplot novel. While the departure platform might offer passengers a series of invitations to code themselves into channels of movement defined by class and destination, the arrival platform here appears to be an even looser arrangement. Eames’s desire to self-code as first-class in Guestwick is not sustained through his journey. Here, Trollope addresses the reader directly to attribute this common mismatch to moral weakness, but as I have shown here, travel class inscribed on a railway ticket is distinct from social class. Established railways entangled the two through repeated association rather than rigid policing but this fictional representation treats the faux pas as an escalating breach in social order. Eames attacks Crosbie once both passengers alight from the class-demarcated carriage onto the arrival platform.40 After crashing into a railway bookstall, the brawl attracts the attention of a superintendent: ‘a stern official who seemed to carry the weight of many engines upon his brow ... the platform-superintendent, dominant even over the policemen.’41 Trollope renders the lofty authority of Paddington station mobile in this caricature, as the superintendent exercises social control over the platform with panoptic effect. The structural dynamics of station space that Brunel so carefully developed have limited impact here. Instead, a ‘mighty railway authority’ surveys the scene, discerning Eames’s middle-class status from the clerk’s clothing and behaviour rather than referring to his first-class ticket. He reports the altercation to the clerk’s employer: ‘Let me see; in the second class, isn’t he? Ah! Do you know, Mr Eames, that I have received a letter from the secretary to the Directors of the Great Western Railway Company.’42 By merging infrastructural authority with human error, Trollope characterises Paddington of the 1860s as one much defined by a quite different style of social control than Brunel’s blueprints outline. In this novel, the relationship between passenger and ticket is very transient indeed, and cannot endure for even the length of a single railway journey. Passenger

Paddington in the Mid-Nineteenth Century 109 miscoding helps substantially speed up the Eames and Crosbie plotline while reasserting the class discrepancy between the suitors; Trollope draws on and subverts Paddington’s departure logistics, showing that superficial markers of class such as railway tickets hold limited currency.

By travelling through a station then, passengers also helped to create it, filling it with purposeful movement via self-coding. The station’s physical layout partly effects this process, with class-segregated waiting rooms and opportunities to slow one’s course by stopping to buy newspapers and popular fiction. Such zones promoted synthesis between a passenger’s desire to recognise their place within a station and the railway company’s need to manage public movement. To combat the kind of ‘desire lines’ that worked at odds with a smooth-running station, Brunel aligned coding with passenger needs such as dropping off luggage, and finding a place to rest and read. Paddington’s systems therefore improved through practice. Without mass mobility, the station would remain as inert, empty and unreal as it appeared in those lyrical accounts of termini explored earlier in this chapter. Although Brunei’s plans reveal that plotting a terminus was as much about planning how people moved around as it was about deciding where to put glass and metal, within a decade of Paddington’s opening, the station was a much more known and stable entity. The coupling of mechanised space (which bluntly and briefly categorises travellers as an organisational strategy) and imaginative space (wherein artists like Frith and writers like Trollope can shift in tense to plot public movement in further detail) helps us recognise the cultural limits of coding passengers. Passenger termini cohere through public willingness to self-code, but Frith and Trollope suggest that there was plenty of scope for variation, self-expression and even subversion within spaces like Paddington. Even in the twenty-first century, railway stations continue to evoke nineteenth-century engineering’s reshaping of urban space. If Brunei’s plans begin to outline how passengers might respond to Paddington as ‘a correct idea ... of a Railway Station’, Frith’s and Trollope’s representations populate, crowd and narrate the space, showing us why plotting a busy station effected an imaginative compromise between passenger and process.

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by generous grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AH/K503071/1; AH/M000893/1) and by a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship (ECF2019-573).

Notes

  • 1 Thomas de Quincey, ‘The English Mail-Coach, or the Glory of Motion’, Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, 66/408 (October 1849): 492.
  • 2 Anon., ‘The Confusion of the Railway’, Spectator (16 August 1851): 782.

Mona Domosh, ‘Those “Gorgeous Incongruities”: Polite Politics and Public Space on the Streets of Nineteenth Century New York City’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 8/2 (June 1998): 209-26, 210.

Tim Cresswell, Place: An Introduction (Oxford: John Wiley and Sons, 2015), 67.

Ibid.

‘... flow-chart like diagrams are used to abstract and represent possible movements of passengers through the various spaces and phases of airport experience, opening these mobilities up to the rationality of scientific abstraction and quantification’. Peter Adey, ‘Airports: Terminal/Vector’, in Tim Cresswell and Peter Merriman, eds, Geographies of Mobilities: Practices, Spaces, Subjects (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), 140.

Peter K. Garrett, The Victorian Multiplot Novel: Studies in Dialogical Form (New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 1980), 1.

See Mary C. Cowling, ‘The Artist as Anthropologist in Mid-Victorian England: Frith’s Derby Day, The Railway Station and the New Science of Mankind’, Art History 6/4 (December 1983): 461-77, 462.

George Revill, Railway (London: Reaktion, 2012), 128.

Anon., ‘New Station of the Great Western Railway, at Paddington’, Illustrated London News (8 July 1854): 14.

The first intercity railway between Liverpool and Manchester opened in 1830, and the establishment and expansion of railway lines extending unevenly across Britain soon followed. By the time Brunel turned to Paddington, the railways had therefore been running passenger services for twenty years. For more detail on construction in the years immediately preceding Brunei’s redesign, see Henry Grote Lewin, The Railway Mania and Its Aftermath, 1845-1852: (Being a Sequel to ‘Early British Railways’) (London: The Railway Gazette, 1936).

See Steven Brindle, Paddington Station: Its History and Architecture (Swindon: English Heritage, 2004), 10.

Ibid.

The writer goes on to note the ‘embellished character’ of mansions surrounding the site, and the ‘spread of luxurious London’ observable in this ‘western suburb’. Anon., ‘Scenery of the Great Western Railway’, Sharpe’s London Magazine (7 November 1846): 21.

Isambard K. Brunel, ‘Letterbooks of Isambard K. Brunel 1850-1852’, Brunel Institute, University of Bristol, 99.

Henry Law, The Rudiments of Civil Engineering (London: John Weale, 1852), 1-2.

See Jeffrey Richards and John M. Mackenzie, The Railway Station: A Social History (London: Faber and Faber, 1986), 20—1.

See Brindle, Paddington Station, 59.

Anon., ‘The Paddington Station of the Great Western Railway’, Builder (17 June 1854): 290.

Isobel Armstrong, Victorian Glassworlds: Glass Culture and the Imagination 1830-1880 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 133-4; Wolfgang Schivelbusch, The Railway Journey: The Industrialization of Time and Space in the 19th Century (Berkley: University of California Press, 1986), 162. Anon., ‘A London Railway Station’, Leisure Hour (29 June 1854): 412.

Thomas Hardy sustains this association in his 1895 novel Jude the Obscure, when one of nis characters proclaims that ‘the cathedral has had its day’, and that the ‘railway station’ is ‘the centre of town life now’. Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure, ed. Patricia Ingham (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 128.

Anon., ‘New Station of the Great Western Railway’: 14.

  • 24 See Brunel’s sketchbooks for further insight into the engineer’s process in developing trackside and passenger-facing functions of Paddington. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Large Sketchbook 1 (Bristol, 1849-51), Brunel Institute, DM162/8/l/l/Large Sketchbook 1.
  • 25 The most exclusive of these is the octagonal Queen’s chamber, somewhat set back from the platform compared with other waiting rooms, walled in and insulated from any exposure to industrial activity or to other passengers. Elsewhere on the Great Western Railway Queen Victoria had her own purpose-built station at Windsor and Eton. For a more detailed history of royal stations see Richards and Mackenzie, The Railway Station, 161-5.
  • 26 Simon Bradley, The Railways: Nation, Network and People (London: Profile Books, 2015)' 469.
  • 27 Ibid., 446.
  • 28 Ibid., 469-70.
  • 29 Rhoda Broughton, ‘Under the Cloak’, in Tales for Christmas Eve (London: Richard Bentley & Son, 1873), 196.
  • 30 Leo Marx, ‘Technology: The Emergence of a Hazardous Concept’, Technology and Culture, 51/3 (July 2010): 561-77, 567.
  • 31 Dickens depicts ‘Mr Lost’ failing to complete a journey to a destination listed in famous railway guide. The farce extends to several false starts from various London termini, as the passenger repeatedly struggles to reconcile what he sees in the guide with his own itinerary. Charles Dickens, ‘A Narrative of Extraordinary Suffering’, Household Words, 3/68 (7 December 1851): 361-2.
  • 32 Mike Esbester, ‘Nineteenth-Century Timetables and the History of Reading’, Book History, 12/1 (2009): 156-85, 165, doi: 10.1353/bh.0.0018.
  • 33 Anon., ‘Very Common Law’, All the Year Round (2 June I860): 180-1.
  • 34 Paul Virilio, Negative Horizon: An Essay in Dromoscopy, trans. Michael Degener (London: Continuum, 2006), 60.
  • 35 Tom Taylor, The Railway Station Painted by W. P. Frith,... (London: Henry Graves & Co., 1865), 5-8.
  • 36 For a more detailed study of Taylor’s professional relationship with Frith on this painting, see Shearer West, ‘Tom Taylor, William Powell Frith, and the British School of Art’, Victorian Studies, 33/2 (Winter 1990): 313-18.
  • 37 Anthony Trollope, quoted in Frederic Harrison, Anthony Trollope’s Place in Literature (London: Edward Arnold, 1895), 325-6; see Walter Kendrick, The Novel-Machine: The Theory and Fiction of Anthony Trollope (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980).
  • 38 Susan Zieger, ‘Affect and Logistics: Trollope’s Postal Work’, Victorians: A Journal of Culture and Literature, 128 (Fall 2015): 226-44, 227.
  • 39 Anthony Trollope, The Small House at Allington, ed. Dinah Birch (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 302.
  • 40 Ibid., 305.
  • 41 Ibid., 306.
  • 42 Ibid., 324.

References

Adey, P., ‘Airports: Terminal/Vector’, in T. Cresswell and P. Merriman, eds, Geographies of Mobilities: Practices, Spaces, Subjects (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), 137-50.

Anon., ‘The Confusion of the Railway’, Spectator (16 August 1851): 782.

Anon., ‘A London Railway Station’, Leisure Hour (29 June 1854): 412.

Anon., ‘New Station of the Great Western Railway, at Paddington’, Illustrated London News (8 July 1854): 14.

Anon., ‘The Paddington Station of the Great Western Railway’, Builder (17 June 1854): 290.

Anon., ‘Scenery of the Great Western Railway’, Sharpe’s London Magazine (7 November 1846): 21.

Anon., ‘Very Common Law’, All the Year Round (2 June I860): 180-1.

Armstrong, I., Victorian Glassworlds: Glass Culture and the Imagination 1830-1880 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).

Bradley, S., The Railways: Nation, Network and People (London: Profile Books, 2015).

Brindle, S., Paddington Station: Its History and Architecture (Swindon: English Heritage, 2004).

Broughton, R., ‘Under the Cloak’, in Broughton, ed., Tales for Christmas Eve (London: Richard Bentley & Son, 1873), 196.

Brunel, I. K., Large Sketchbook 1 (Bristol, 1849-51), Brunel Institute, DM162/8/l/l/Large Sketchbook 1.

Brunel, I. K., ‘Letterbooks of Isambard K. Brunel 1850-1852’, Brunel Institute, University of Bristol.

Cowling, M. C., ‘The Artist as Anthropologist in Mid-Victorian England: Frith’s Derby Day, The Railway Station and the New Science of Mankind’, Art History, 6/4 (December 1983): 461-77.

Cresswell, T., Place: An Introduction (Oxford: John Wiley and Sons, 2015).

Dickens, C., ‘A Narrative of Extraordinary Suffering’, Household Words, 3/68 (7 December 1851): 361-2.

Domosh, M., ‘Those “Gorgeous Incongruities”: Polite Politics and Public Space on the Streets of Nineteenth Century New York City’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 8/2 (June 1998): 209-26.

Esbester, M., ‘Nineteenth-Century Timetables and the History of Reading’, Book History, 12/1 (2009): 156-85, 165, doi: 10.1353/bh.0.0018.

Garrett, P. K., The Victorian Multiplot Novel: Studies in Dialogical Form (New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 1980).

Hardy, T., Jude the Obscure, ed. P. Ingham (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

Harrison, F., Anthony Trollope’s Place in Literature (London: Edward Arnold, 1895).

Kendrick, W., The Novel-Machine: The Theory and Fiction of Anthony Trollope (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980).

Law, H., The Rudiments of Civil Engineering (London: John Weale, 1852).

Lewin, H. G., The Railway Mania and Its Aftermath, 1845-1852: (Being a Sequel to ‘Early British Railways’) (London: The Railway Gazette, 1936).

Marx, L., ‘Technology: The Emergence of a Hazardous Concept’, Technology and Culture, 51/3 (July 2010): 561-77.

de Quincey, T., ‘The English Mail-Coach, or the Glory of Motion’, Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, 66/408 (October 1849).

Revill, G., Railway (London: Reaktion, 2012).

Richards, J., and Mackenzie, J. M., The Railway Station: A Social History (London: Faber and Faber, 1986).

Schivelbusch, W., The Railway Journey: The Industrialization of Time and Space in the 19th Century (Berkley: University of California Press, 1986).

Taylor, T., The Railway Station Painted by W. P. Frith, ... (London: Henry Graves & Co., 1865).

Trollope, A., The Small House at Allington, ed. D. Birch (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015 (1862)).

Virilio, P., Negative Horizon: An Essay in Dromoscopy, trans. Michael Degener (London: Continuum, 2006).

West, S., ‘Tom Taylor, William Powell Frith, and the British School of Art’, Victorian Studies, 33/2 (Winter 1990): 313-18.

Zieger, S., ‘Affect and Logistics: Trollope’s Postal Work’, Victorians: A Journal of Culture and Literature, 128 (Fall 2015): 226-44.

 
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