Banner 1
Banner 3
Banner 7
Banner 2
Banner 4
Banner 5
Banner 6

And Along Came Steam...



Railways almost killed droving completely.  Instead of an arduous three weeks by road, the beasts could now be crammed1 into railway trucks and reach London in 36 hours, rumbling (and grumbling) along, stopping only for stations and water - the latter for the beasts as well as the train.


Drovers were still needed: to herd the unwilling cattle on to the trains, to accompany them and calm them on their nightmare journey, then hand them over to other cattlemen when the nightmare was over.  They travelled either in an open van at the rear, just in front of the brake van, where they could be flung around like matchsticks when two trains collided - for they had no seating & nothing to hold on to.  (Eight were killed in a dreadful accident at Atherstone in 1860.)...


...Or they would travel 3rd Class. The railway companies issued free 3rd class passes for drovers accompanying cattle, but withdrew them in 1894 when it was found that they were being sold in pubs.  Then the drovers rode with the cattle...and I have an instinctive feeling many preferred it that way.


From a letter to the Tenby Observer (24th Dec. 1868): 
“3rd Class passengers are promiscuously huddled up with drovers...some of whom are often half drunk, many dirty and nearly all highly scented."  Better, perhaps, to be cattle class and not be despised.


Footnote: the railway carriage for the beasts had to be paid for in advance.  Some small-time drovers would not have the £15 - the fare for beasts to London from Rugby - until they had sold their stock.  So they would walk them to London and get the train back!  (See Gate Hangs High under the Oxon tab for more about that.)

Finally, #1 shows cattle, sheep & pigs in the end carriages - the sheep on two levels!  3rd Class is Freight Class in the picture: maybe that's how it was at first?

1 The cramming was necessary to stop a beast falling to the floor of the carriage and being trampled to death.