In the first years of the Victorian period, trips away to such places as the seaside were mainly enjoyed by the wealthy upper class. They could afford to travel long distances by coach and horses, but when the railways were built things began to change. The famous Duke of Wellington objected to the railways, saying that the lower orders would move about too much! During the second half of Queen Victoria’s reign, working hours were shortened, wages rose steadily and prices of goods and food fell. From 1850 factories closed on Saturday afternoons and in 1871 a new law introduced four official Bank Holidays a year.
For the first time since the upheavals of the industrial revolution, most working people had a little more money and a little more free time.
Cycling was a popular Victorian past time. The Dacorum Heritage Trust cares for an old ‘Penny-Farthing’, one of the earliest forms of bicycle. Once the safety bicycle was brought out during 1885, it became popular with people who lived in towns, who could then ride out and explore the countryside.
This is a group photo taken from the Stationery Department Diary at Apsley Paper Mill, dated September 1915. The photograph and a newspaper article of the outing are described as:-
‘interesting souvenirs of the enjoyable occasion…’ The diary continues:-
‘A remarkably enjoyable outing was most successfully carried out on Saturday last by the members of the Stationery Department, Apsley Mills. Nearly 100 of the employees left Hemel Hempstead in brakes, (shooting brakes or large estate cars), bound for Luton….after numerous and varied experiences at last returned home happy though tired, at an hour perilously approaching the Sabbath Morn….proving once more that this particular section at Apsley Mills can not only work together, but can enjoy themselves well together also. Indeed, a happy state of affairs!’
16th June 2010