March 28, 2008
Victorian Voyage
Fancy a trip to Cancun this winter?
Or maybe a summer abroad in Germany or Spain?

The idea of vacationing or traveling about the globe has become a way of life among many in our modern world. Flights, trains and tour buses leave daily for vacation hot spots, and as our world becomes more and more advanced, the comfort of traveling increases as the time of traveling to your exotic destination decreases.

The idea of traveling in and of itself is a fairly new concept. In fact, traveling more than one could walk in a day was generally unheard of in centuries past, and only for battles or religious pilgrimages would a population be willed into traveling for days on end. Until quite recently, to most of the world's citizens, the town in which they were born was the place in which they lived out the rest of their lives.

However, as England, as well as the rest of the world, entered the Victorian era, the concept of travel began to change drastically. As carriages became more common among the middle and upper class, longer distance travel became possible. Although, when traveling more than ten or twenty miles, travel by carriage could become cumbersome and extremely slow. The answer to this slow method of travel was solved with the invention of the steam locomotive in the mid 1820's and the construction of the first set of rails in England toward the mid-nineteenth century. As the 20th century fast approached, transport by train became increasingly common, providing transport for the upper and middle class, as well as the lower class. As the world changed under Queen Victoria's rule, so did transportation. Railway stations sprung up in many a town, and began to connect different parts of England, and in this way, different ways of life.

As the Victorian era drew to a close, railways became apparent in different countries and on different continents. The comforts of train travel increased, and the amount of trains that entered and exited any given station per day increased drastically, so that the concept of travel became part of everyday life. No longer would families and friends go years without seeing one another due to only twenty or thirty miles of separation; with this innovative way of travel, one could leave their town in the morning, travel thirty-odd miles, and be back for dinner!

The invention of the steam locomotive even paved the way to the invention of the steam ship. This new innovation allowed sailors to travel in roomier, more comfortable bunks, as well as a more hygienic atmosphere. From the invention of the steam ship, travel across oceans became more common for the general population, so that one could travel in comfort and style to a different world.

The invention of the train grew over the Victorian era as machinery and technology became increasingly advanced, and even after the close of Queen Victoria's reign, this incredulous invention paved the way to more modern versions of travel such as the automobile, the ferry and the airplane, as well as more innovative forms of itself, such as the monorail and high-speed railways. We are seeing the effects of this influential time in history today as globe-trotting has become not only widespread and common, but a way of life.

So, next time you're packing up for your all-inclusive resort or your cozy chalet, remember how it all started: a set of rails and a curious invention known only as the locomotive.

Posted by Melissa
posted at 5:58 PM -
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The Blog:

Created by five SFU students for Dr. Stephen Ogden's English 206 class, this blog is, simply put, just for show. We are interested in the idea of "Victorian Cool," or more specifically how Victorian aesthetics are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. The posts in this blog are materialism at its finest; fashion, architecture, jewelry, furniture, and whatever else catches our eye. Why has this brand of Victorianism re-entered mass culture? Read the blog and find out!

The Contributors:


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