Touring Scotland with the Caledonian Railway
Posted 4 February, 2011 13:04 by Karla Baker
As the railway grew, its initial functional nature was eventually surpassed by one of luxury. Mere journeys became holidays, trips became tours and the manner of getting there became just as important as getting there itself.
A leaflet printed by Bartholomew on the 15 March 1906 concerning The Caledonian Railway, West Coast Royal Route from and to England, encapsulates something of this spirit. It is lavishly coloured with an arresting and engaging cover, which easily draws the eye and begs for closer inspection. Those that couldn’t resist were treated to luxuriant descriptions of the route, the train, the life and to an extent the glamour of the journey, through extensive descriptions, illustrations and photographs.
However, I have a suspicion that the Royal allusion in the title of this leaflet is in fact nothing more than a reference to the Royal Mail. Earlier advertising for the same route (also in the Bartholomew Archive) refers more humbly to the London & North Western and Caledonian Railways West Coast Royal Mail Route. By strategically dropping “Mail” a whole new connotation is created, a whole new impression. Furthermore, it appears that this was deliberately done in order to tempt the most lucrative market of them all – Americans.
At this time, overseas travel for the mere purpose of pleasure was becoming more of a reality for increasing numbers of people, albeit still small numbers proportionally. The American market quickly established itself and in fact, to this day North American tourists are still the predominant group of overseas visitors to Scotland, at around one quarter of the total. With this in mind it is perhaps unsurprising that the Caledonian Railway also marketed some of its own hotels to this particular group. It is interesting to note the pride which they felt in the electric lighting that this hotel boasted.