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Elizabeth's Story - Day Trippers

Within ten days of the line to Derby opening, Richard Harwood's confidence in the new opportunities began to bear fruit. Elizabeth writes:

June 9 (1839 - a Sunday) - V. fine day. We were very busy after tea. The railway trains brought (a) great many people from Nottm. We could not find seats for them all. They took 12 carriages down from Derby, There were about 200-300 persons. They could not take who was at the Station till they came back about 4 o'clock at night.

The "Review", the following week, went further with this vivid account:

The number of passengers (on the railway) is daily increasing and on Sunday, nearly 1200 persons were booked; from and to Beeston alone there were 436 and on Monday, from the same village, 160. Who, in winter's cold or summer's heat will walk to Beeston when they can be conveyed there in a few minutes for 6 pence ? On Sunday evening, the train consisting of 14 carriages were so full that nearly 200 persons who were waiting at Beeston to come by them, could not be brought. This was mortifying - "I'll soon be back", exclaimed Mr Kersley, the managing engineer and he put on a little extra steam ans completely astonished the persons by getting to Beeston before they imagined he had reached Nottingham. On the return the train smashed through the first station house gate which had been closed as the keeper did not know of the intended return.

A week later Elizabeth writes again:

June 16 - Fine day. A good deal of company by railway in the evening. Several trains came up to Beeston Station. There were signs that The Boat was becoming too popular in the eyes of the competition in the Rylands. Its neigbour rushed out the following advertisement which appeared in the following week's Review:

Jolly Angler, Beeston Rylands (near the Railway Station) and close upon the banks of the River Trent. John Williamson begs most sincerely to thank his numerous Friends and the Public, who have kindly supported him for the last nine years, and respectfully solicits a continuance of their favours. They may rely upon every exertion being used, combined with moderate charges, to give satisfaction to all who may favour him with a call. Boating parties will meet with every accommodation. N.B. Tea parties accommodated on the shortest notice. Boats Let on Hire.

The next week, however, Elizabeth was able to report another busy weekend:

June 23 - Stormy in the morning. Fine in the afternoon. Very full of company in the evening.

The inn, being near the river, had attracted visitors on summer evenings in the past but the numbers now coming were very much greater and something had to be done to accomodate them - and the threat of competition from the Jolly Amglers also had to be met. Richard acted characteristically and decisively during the next week. Elizabeth recorded in her diary: "Father and James went to Nottm for a waggon load of timber to build a room in the garden" - and the bext day he "began to build the room in the garden". Over the next two days, Richard visited Nottingham "by steam" to buy four fireplaces and brought them back by cart. Significantly, he also bought some nine pins. Skittlese were to remain a feature of the Boat and Horses until recent times.

July 7 saw the beginning of Beeston Feast. The first day was very fine and warm and, again, a great many trippers ventured out to Beeston by railway. The next day we find "a good deal of company Bowling" - the new facilities were already making their contribution - and there were seven extra trains for each of the first three days of that week. The "Review" was able to report "immense business" that week for the railway. On one evening the longest train yet - one of 20 carriages, each as filled as they could be - was used to carry the trippers. On two occasions, 340 persons went on these trains and once even the tender had passengers !

Excerpts from the diary are included by kind permission of Nottinghamshire Archives.