Cash Railway

As a schoolboy in the 1950’s going shopping with my mother in England was the ultimate in boredom. Thankfully this only happened on rare occasions when I was required to try things on. So when we “went to Brighton” my one and only objective was to get my mother into Boots (an old fashioned CVS/Walgreens) so that I could watch the “cash railway”.

The cash railway consisted of an overhead system of steel wires connecting a central cashier’s desk with all the counters around the store. The idea was that when a sales assistant made a sale, he or she tendered money into a small wooden pot which fitted onto a carriage hanging from the wire. A handle was pulled and a spring propelled the whole device along the wire with a swishing , singing sound to the cashier. The money was extracted; the correct change put into the pot along with the receipt stamped “paid” and the carriage retraced its flight back to the sales clerk. The customer was given their change along with the change and the receipt.

Here’s a picture of a carriage with the wooden pot attached.

Seabiscuit in retirement

The clip on the underside of the pot would hold the receipt.

An overhead miniature railway was a schoolboy’s delight and I never tired of watching those little pots flying back and forth. A particular pleasure was when a careless staff member applied insufficient “oomph” in pulling the handle leaving the carriage to grind to a halt partway along the wire which resulted in much scurrying around by the staff to retrieve it manually.

Below is a picture of the original Company Store. It sold nearly anything a man might need. But, with prices often sky high such stores were the greatest source of tension between loggers and their bosses.

The Original Fort Bragg Company Store