The railways transformed Britain. Within a relatively few years, travelling 'up to town' became a normal feature of upper middle class life. People could have the best of both worlds, living in the country yet visiting London on a regular basis.
Paddington station was an engineering marvel. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, already famous for his steamship designs, devised the great steel arches that supported the glass roof. Other major stations followed suit, giving the British railway terminus its distinctive appearance and emphasising its importance.
The railways, with the telegraph, brought about a new way of life in Britain, connecting people to the capital city in a matter of a few hours.
Railway stations, department stores and some hotels provided waiting rooms reserved for ladies (such as the one preserved at York station). Women without male escort, or at least accompanied by a maid, were not safe on London's streets.
Investigative journalists such as Henry Mayhew, whose articles from 1861-1862 were collected in London Labour and the London Poor, documented life in the streets of the capital city from the point of view of the street sellers and other street workers. Charles Dickens drew upon Mayhew's work.