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From its start pandemonium reigned at Gloucester, now at the centre of a railway route stretching from Tyneside to the Exe.If the Twentieth Centurys jet age brought the expression "Breakfast in London, Dinner in New York, Luggage in Bermuda" then "Lost at Gloucester" became synonymous with the problems of travel in Victorian minds."Gentle Reader, if you wish to know what a break of gauge is, a journey between Birmingham and Bristol will make you very sensibly conscious of it.The Gauge being thus broken your journey is brought to a dead halt.With all your luggage and rattle traps, whatever they be in size and number, you are obliged to shift from one carriage to another.
An old carrier thus graphically speaks of the contents of a goods train and the shifting of them:".is found at Gloucester that to tranship the contents of one waggon full of miscellaneous merchandise to another, takes about an hour with all the force of porters you can put to work upon it.
In the hurry the bricks are miscounted, the slates chipped at the edges, the cheeses cracked, the ripe fruit and vegetables crushed and spoilt; the chairs, furniture, oil cakes, cast iron pots, grates and ovens all more or less broken; the coal turned into slack, the salt short of weight, sundry bottles of wine deficient and the fish too late for market."With four porters needed per wagon and one clerk to supervise every four wagons of an incoming train, transhipment at Gloucester added 2/6 to the cost of every ton of freight that passed through the City a great expense in those days.
In fact the only benefit brought by the Break of Gauge came in 1849 when Gloucestrians had the chance to see Queen Victoria change trains and then only because Her Majesty was avoiding London on a journey from Balmoral to Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight due to an outbreak of Cholera in the Capital.
For this event a scarlet cloth was spread across the station platform with a richer carpet laid down for the Royal party itself as it moved from the carriages of the coal cart gauge to those of the Great Western.
The columns supporting the platform canopy were also decked with flowers and laurels, although the crowd did get somewahat over excited.
An electric telegraph - invented by Gloucester's own Charles Wheatstone - had warned spectators that the train had passed Cheltenham, but when Her Majesty finally appeared on the platform and it was time for the Corporation and Clergy of Gloucester to move forward with their addreses the crowd followed behind them and , as the Gloucester Journal reported, Indeed, the Great Western Railway was to link Gloucester but not yet Cheltenham to Swindon by May 1845: thereby bringing even more trains to the crowded Gloucester platforms. "Another placard explained that the distance of 37 miles between Gloucester and Bristol could be traversed by a Broad Gauge train in 1 hour 45 minutes while the best timing for the 51 mile Gloucester to Birmingham journey was 2 hours 35 minutes.