Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Omnibus law

On 30th January 1836, The Times newspaper published a set of instructions for its readers, which were intended to make omnibus travel more enjoyable. It provides a valuable insight into the contemporary omnibus experience.

London General Omnibus

Omnibus law

  1. Keep your feet off the seats.
  2. Do not get into a snug corner yourself and then open the windows to admit a North-wester upon the neck of your neighbour.
  3. Have your money ready when you desire to alight. If your time is not valuable, that of others may be.
  4. Do not impose on the conductor the necessity of finding you change: he is not a banker.
  5. Sit with your limbs straight, and do not with your legs describe an angle of 45, thereby occupying the room of two persons.
  6. Do not spit on the straw. You are not in a hogsty but in an omnibus travelling in a country which boasts of its refinement.
  7. Behave respectfully to females and put not an unprotected lass to the blush, because she cannot escape from your brutality.
  8. If you bring a dog, let him be small and be confined by a string.
  9. Do not introduce large parcels – an omnibus is not a van.
  10. Reserve bickerings and disputes for the open field. The sound of your own voice may be music to your own ears – not so, perhaps, to those of your companions.
  11. If you will broach politics or religion, speak with moderation: all have an equal right to their opinions, and all have an equal right to not have them wantonly shocked.
  12. Refrain from affectation and conceited airs. Remember that you are riding a distance for sixpence which, if made in a hackney coach, would cost you as many shillings; and that should your pride elevate you above plebeian accommodations, your purse should enable you to command aristocratic indulgences.

Funny how so many of these rules are still relevant today – although perhaps not the one about straw on the floor! The more things change, the more they stay the same. Thanks to the excellent London Transport Museum.

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