Party outings

British Rail Party Outings booklet 1959The train angst season is upon us. Cancellations, missing tea trolley services, overcrowded carriages, missing reservations, hassled travellers, luggage racks that don’t fit luggage, unspeakable toilets.

This booklet from British Railways London Midland Region seems to imply it wasn’t always so. It is from 1959. Not so long a time ago. Yet long enough that the words ‘customer service’ used in the same sentence as ‘train’ have been completely decoupled.

Although the booklet suggests the ‘long days of summer’ are a favourite time for outings, ‘sunny days can be revived by a winter outing, which, carefully arranged, will be the highlight of the winter social programme.’ Places to visit were not so different than they would be today. London, Windsor, The Wye Valley, Shrewsbury and the Welsh Borderland, Chester, Peak District, Liverpool and New Brighton, York and The Shakespeare Country.

There are offers to call and arrange the whole outing for you; to book ice shows, pantomimes and circuses. The booklet teases with an offer of film shows arranged ‘to pave the way for a really good outing’ and tells us popular lines of ‘the packed meal service’ included pork luncheon meat sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, cake and chocolate biscuits. There were packed meals in bags (paper bags, surely, with nice logos on them?) and a ‘Compakt’ meal, served in a container made of anodized aluminum to be ‘carried like an attaché case’.

The lovely, cartoonish cover is signed ‘Sadler’, who was, I think, Arthur Sadler. He seems to have designed some few travel posters. But the internet doesn’t offer up much of anything on him. However his joy in drawing his subject comes over loud and clear on this small booklet cover – where even the train drivers are enjoying their labour. It’s perfectly positioned to put you in the party mood.

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