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Romilly's Visits to Wales 1827-1854

Extracts from the Diaries of the Rev. Joseph Romilly.

By Morris, M G R.
Gomer, 1998.

Here is a travel related extract from this book contributed by Sylvia Birch (April 2007)

For both rich and poor the pace of life was leisurely, not because travel was rare far from it, but because it was so slow.
Thomas Jenkins of Llandeilo thought nothing of walking seventy-five miles, from Carmarthen to Tenby and Pembroke and then from Milford to Cardigan, the latter stage over thirty miles taking him fourteen hours, half of them in darkness.  

Time did not matter when everyone had to walk or ride or go by boat.  
Romilly spent eleven hours in a paddle steamer chugging from Bristol to Tenby, and in a storm Fanny Allen and the Sismondis took sixteen.  This world was already changing.  Sail first bowed to paddle-wheels before Romilly was born: the propellor followed in 1830s.  
But the best hope for speed, apart from balloons, which had limitations, lay with the trains.  They made journeys fully three times faster than mail coaches; not faster perhaps than man had ever moved before, but certainly so over long distances of land.  

That Romilly saw the trains potential for speed is shown as early as 1838, when he called an average of twenty-one miles an hour not very fast, whereas the previous year an average of ten miles an hour by coach seemed a prodigious rate, as indeed it was.  
By 1854 the train from Pembrokeshire to Paddington was averaging thirty miles an hour; but at nearly £2 a ticket it was beyond the reach of ordinary folk.


[Gareth Hicks: 14 April 2007]