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Theatrical Railway Traffic

How Victorian and Edwardian artistes toured their productions around the Country

 

Throughout this site you will find mention of Arthur Lloyd and his Comic Company touring around Britain and Ireland on a seemingly reckless schedule, from the 1860s to the early 1900s, often playing a different town every day for many months. And he wasn't the only one, in fact hundreds of Theatrical Companies were doing the same thing, and as the railway system grew so did the theatrical tours.

An article in 'The Railway Magazine' of September 1912 details the Theatrical Traffic carried on the LNWR for just one day in 1911. In fact one hundred and twelve theatrical companies were conveyed on the LNWR on the 22nd of October that year. These included 2,374 passengers, 182 scenery trucks, and eight horse boxes.

One special train from Manchester to Carlisle took the following companies:

Floradora Co. - Eccles to Preston
Miss Glossop Harrif's Co. - Birkenhead to Carlisle
The Master of the Mill Co - Leeds to Manchester
When Knights Were Bold Co - Bradford to Glasgow
A Royal Divorce Co - Hyde to Glasgow
For Wife and Kingdom - Barrow to Leith.

A Manchester-Holyhead train took:

The Bad Girl of the family Co - Leigh and Bedford to Birkenhead
The Slave Dealer Co - Bolton to Cork
Miss Hook of Holland Co - Blackpool to Dublin
The Girl in the Train Co - Sheffield to Dublin.

And others traveling on that day included:

Mr Robert Courtnedge's The Arcadians Co - Leeds to Manchester
Mr FR Benson's Co - Liverpool to Birmingham
The Chocolate Soldier Co - Oldham to Leeds
The Balkan Princess Co - Seacombe to Southport.

Considering that the LNWR was only one, albeit the biggest, of many railway companies running at that time, it makes you wonder just how many theatrical companies were traveling on the railway system on that, or any, single day.

Many thanks to David Bridgeman-Sutton for sending in this information.

 

Arthur Lloyd and a never attempted feat of traveling and performing.

Mr Arthur Lloyd has accomplished a feat never attempted by any other vocalist or public performer. He sang on Saturday last at the Canterbury Hall, Pavilion and Sun, at Knightsbridge.

On Monday night he appeared at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, for the benefit of his father, Mr. Lloyd, the celebrated comedian, who has been so long connected with the Edinburgh and Glasgow Theatre.

He was on the stage at Edinburgh at half-past nine o'clock Monday night and on Tuesday evening he was doing his turns at the various Halls, as usual, in London, thus appearing in Edinburgh and London within twenty-four hours and travelling a distance of over eight hundred miles, not having rested in a bed from Saturday till the Tuesday night.

Mr. Arthur Lloyd felt that it was "something attempted, something done" and he had earned his nights repose. The Era - 17th July 1870.

 

And just to prove how important the Theatrical Railway traffic was to artistes of the time, when the manager of the theatrical traveling department of the Midland Railway died suddenly, and unexpectedly, in 1897 the ERA carried a report in their 29th of May edition giving details of his funeral and the many tributes paid to him from some of the most famous names of the time.

FUNERAL OF MR. JOHN BOSWORTH

The mortal remains of Mr John Bosworth, late manager of the theatrical travelling department of the Midland Railway, whose untimely death we regretfully recorded last week, were reverently laid to rest at Nottingham-road Cemetery, Derby, last Sunday afternoon.

The ceremony was a very impressive one, and the brilliant spring sunshine that invested the scene with a sense of opening life seemed to accentuate the sorrow felt by the gathering of friends at the graveside that one comparatively so young, and with such splendid possibilities, should have been so cruelly snatched away by the grim hand of death.

The coffin was covered with floral tributes from the deceased's family, business colleagues, and from members of the profession. Among those present to pay a last tribute of respect to the departed were Mr E. R. Ward, Mr H. T. Jackson, Mr J. Carr, Mr C. B. Cooper, Mr J. B. Curry, Mr George Fowkes, Mr J. E. Barnesby, and a number of other gentlemen representing the superintendent's department of the Midland Railway ; Mr W. Todd, general manager's department ; Mr F. W. Purcell, proprietor of the Grand Theatre, with his secretary, Mr G. Mosedale ; Major Wheeldon ; Mr Horace Weir; and Mr Hughes, representing Mr Allen Thomas, of Mr Calder's Span of Life company.

It may be added, as illustrating the respect in which the late Mr Bosworth was held by the profession, that his widow has received letters of profound condolence from most of the principal actors and managers, dated from all parts of the country, including Mr Wilson Barrett, Mr Geo. Alexander, Mr Geo. Edwardes, Mr W. Greet, Mr H. T. Brickwell, Mr A. Bourchier, Mr F. G. Latham, Mr E. Lockwood, Mr E. P. Moyan, Mr J. F. Elliston, Mr C. Arnold, Mr Gilbert Tate, Mr Milton Bode, Mr H. Cecil Beryl, Mr G. M. Polini, Mr John A. Atkin, Mr Seymour Hodges, Mr W. H. Dawes, Mr J. W. Matthews, and many others.

The above text was first published in the ERA, 29th of May 1897.

Archive newspaper reports on this page were collated and kindly sent in for inclusion by B.F.

 

You may find the following pages from this site of interest: