Lecture with André Brett: It Was Very Tiresome to Travel at Night

Kick off 2019 with our first Greenhouse lecture of the New Year with Dr. André Brett, Vice-Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow in History at University of Wollongong, Australia, on Tuesday, Jan 22 at 13:00 in HG R-218. André will present some of his research related to darkness and travel in 19th century Australia.

“It Was Very Tiresome to Travel at Night”: The Nocturnal Environment of Railway Carriages in Late Colonial Australasia

Passengers on nineteenth-century trains could expect little light at night. This paper explores the dim and malodorous environment of carriages lit by kerosene lamps, and how the introduction of Pintsch gas illumination brought great change. This technology, now all but forgotten, revolutionised the travel experience throughout Britain’s Australasian colonies; it made night-time travel pleasurable. The natural resources necessary for this lighting required the railways to exploit intercolonial and imperial trade networks. I blend economic and environmental history to show that concern for savings in running costs and an interest in providing a satisfactory travelling environment were mutually reinforcing.

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