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March 9, 2014


‘The Bayswater Omnibus’ painted in 1895 by George William Joy. Omnibuses were a popular means of public transport in London throughout the Victorian period. They were large box-shaped carriages which, by the end of the 19th century, were drawn by two horses and could seat 12 people inside and 14 on the roof. The roof was reached by a spiral staircase, was enclosed by short boarding and had forward-facing two-seater wooden benches on either side of a central aisle. Omnibuses were rarely used by the working classes as they began their services at 8am (after the lower classes were meant to have started work), ticket prices were much higher than the more affordable Underground trains, and omnibus conductors and drivers could choose whether or not to stop for passengers who they deemed to be below a suitable standard. Women usually preferred to sit inside the omnibus where they would be more protected from the elements and could call upon a gentleman passenger to ring the bell to signal the driver to stop.

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