A Victorian Christmas tragedy

From the Guardian:

Charles Dickens’s final Christmas turkey lost by Great Western Railway

Rediscovered letter records that 30lb bird was dispatched by train but transferred to a replacement coach service that caught fire.

Charles Dickens’s stoic response to the destruction of his Christmas turkey in a train fire has been revealed in a letter rediscovered at the National Railway Museum in York, in which the author says he “bore the loss with unbroken good humour towards the Great Western Railway Company”.

Dickens, whose love for the seasonal bird came through in books such as A Christmas Carol, was sent the turkey in Christmas week of 1869 by the manager of his reading tours, George Dolby. Dickens was often given a turkey as a Christmas present; according to Dolby’s memoirs, this particular bird weighed 30lb. The festive package took wing from Ross-on-Wye in good time to reach the author on Christmas Eve, but Dickens sent an urgent message to Dolby that day: “WHERE IS THAT TURKEY? IT HAS NOT ARRIVED!!!!!!!!!!!”

The turkey had been moved, along with other parcels, to a horse-box carriage in Gloucester, which had subsequently caught fire. The charred remains were later offered to the people of Reading, for sixpence a portion.


Perhaps Dickens should have gone to Tescos?

About snitchthebudgie

Secretary of the East Surrey N Gauge railway club
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