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Tuesday 21st October 2014
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Why do we say "the gravy train"?

Question

Why do we say "the gravy train"? What does that mean and where did it come from?
Lee, Southampton

 

Answer

Name: David, Burnham-on-Crouch
Qualification: From a book called Blood, Iron and Steel
Answer: It's an Americanism. If you go back to the latter half of the 19th century, vast fortunes would be made by the railroad owners. One of those multi-millionaires was a man called Van der Bilt. He had a palace featuring a huge dining table, on which he had installed a silver miniature railway which went around the outside of the table past all the guests, delivering gravy to them.
(James O'Brien: No way, I'm not accepting that! That simply cannot be true!)

 

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