In light of discussions yesterday, I have worked out as best I can the prevalence of “ladies’ only compartments” on British railways in 1887 using returns given to the Board of Trade. The Board issued a circular asking whether the railways provided special provision for ‘ladies travelling alone.’ This was because of a ‘recent outrage’.
The tables show the total route mileage and passenger train mileage in 1887 of the companies that responded to the circular. Their responses fell into four categories. There were companies that had ‘ladies only’ accommodation on all trains, had it on some trains, arranged ‘ladies’ only’ accommodation when requested, and some did not provide it. Also shown in the tables is the route mileage and passenger train mileage of companies who stated that – based on their experiences – when such accommodation was offered it was underused or not used at all.
It should be noted that where railway companies offered accommodation on ‘some trains’ for the most part this was on a very limited number.
Also included in the Board of Trade’s return are figures from the London & South Western Railway – who provided ‘ladies only’ accommodation when requested – for the number of seats used in such compartments over a six day period in October 1887. It was the Charles Scotter’s (General Manager) opinion that they were underused: