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Friday, 16 September 2011

Stop Press! Railway Excursion ending in a Rabble - 12th September 1851

Catching my attention was this colourful account of a day trip in the "Kelso Chronicle"  of 12th September 1851.

"A train, consisting of thirty carriages, containing between eight and nine hundred persons, on a pleasure excursion from Newcastle to Kelso arrived at the station  on Saturday forenoon. They consisted, for the most part, of the workmen and others employed on the extensive steam engine works of Messrs. Stevenson & Co. They were accompanied by a brass band, headed by which, and carrying banners, they proceeded through the town and visited the grounds and castle of Floors by permission of the Duke of Roxburghe’s Chamberlain.

On their return to the town they proceed to regate themselves in the various inns, whence a great many of them were not long in emerging in a condition which did less credit to themselves than to the potency of Scotch whisky.

In fact, the streets were soon in a complete uproar; brawling and fighting were going on in al directions; some were staggering about without hats, some without coats, and some minus both. Many were covered with blood and dirt, the effects of pugilistic encounters. There were not a few who appeared to be severely cut about the face, besides having their clothes torn. Altogether such a disreputable exhibition has not been witnessed in Kelso for a long time.

The band started for the railway station at 5 o’clock in the afternoon; followed by a reeling and noisy crowd. The departure of the above pleasure trip was a most revolting and disgusting scene.

The railway station was almost taken possession of by the drunken rabble, and it is little else than a miracle, that lives have not been lost on the occasion. Many of the strangers became furious, which soon led to a complete riot, during which one person was taken into custody, and lodged in the station-house; this led to an attack upon the house itself, and much praise is due to Mr. Tait, the station-master, and Mr. Brown, one of the Berwick railway guards, as well as the few police present, for the manner in which they resisted the assailants of the station-house.  In short, the whole scene was a most disgraceful one.

It was a different experience for the party of fifty gentlemen, consisting of the managers of the engine works ship-owners on the Tyne, and friends of Mr. Stevenson.  They   partook of a sumptuous dinner in the afternoon in the Cross Keys Hotel. The dinner was in a  most elegant style; and the wines first-rate, and in abundance. Some excellent speeches were made in giving toasts appropriate to the occasion; and the time of the party was spent most agreeably until the hour for the departure of the train.”

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