Thongs for Bedouins

This is an anonymous letter to the Manager of the Newry and Warrenpoint Railway Company, published in the Newry Telegraph, 1st August 1864.

Dear Sir,

My business leads me to Newry almost every day and I have thus a constant opportunity of judging of the treatment that the customers of the company experience. I can state most definitely that a more irregularly and worse conducted line does not exist in the kingdom!

As an instance of the want of punctuality observed in the departure of the trains, I would inform you that, having arrived in Newry upon Saturday evening last by the express train from Dublin at five minutes to eight, I naturally expected to be able to proceed directly to Warrenpoint by the train advertised to leave Dublin Bridge Station for Warrenpoint at eight o’clock. By this means I would reach my home in Warrenpoint at a timely hour and proceed to enjoy a nice lobster tea. But the fates and the management of the line were against me!

The train did not leave before ten minutes to nine by the station clock and, having to go through the usual ‘bumping process’ to take on ‘goods for the steamer’ at the old station, it did not arrive in Warrenpoint until exactly an hour after the time it was scheduled to arrive there!

I lost my lobsters, but got a good ‘cold’ in exchange. This was on account of the windows in my carriage being open at each side!   I was not permitted the contingency of avoiding such by closing them, for the windows were let down some months ago and management had the leather straps of them removed to prevent them being pulled up!   Some people will tell you that the glass was all broken and that the ingenious manager availed himself of the device to avoid the expense of repairing them!  Others will say that the straps were broken off and converted into thongs to punish the young Bedouins who infest the Warrenpoint Station. These urchins insist upon taking charge of your luggage and yourself – whether or not you feel disposed to avail yourself of their kind offices.  I rather myself incline to the latter view, having frequently seen the young wretches fly in terror and alarm at the approach of the manager, hearing them in their flight communicate to one another in the terrible and mysterious words, ‘Here he is!’ or ‘Here he comes!’

The steamer leaving Warrenpoint for Liverpool on Saturday evenings was advertised to sail at half past eight o’clock and many of the passengers for it travelling with me in the train, we arrived in Warrenpoint exactly an hour after the steamer should have left. Those passengers and the public have much to be thankful for to Captain John Williams who commands the Emerald Isle, who awaited the arrival of the late train before sailing.  Thus was the railway company saved from the expense of many lawsuits!

Surely Sir, something can be done by the public to compel the railway company to meet its obligations, since it at present enjoys a monopoly of the traffic?

In the hope that you will suggest the proper line of agitation and advocate with your effective pen the reforms that are so necessary, I remain,

dear sir,

Yours truly

A Daily Sufferer.

P.S. Do not forget to say something about the state of the first-class carriages. They are more like cattle vans than conveyances for passengers, particularly with the windows down, as at present.

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