IT may seem like a modern phenomenon – but complaints about Britain’s railways are nothing new.

Punctuality and the quality of the service are the usual grievances vented by fed-up passengers and commuters.

But for one enraged clergyman it was his “barbarous” treatment and the fear of being blinded that drove him to put pen to paper.

As part of their work for a major upcoming event at York’s National Railway Museum, researchers unearthed his original complaint – written 100 years ago in 1912.

The Reverend Brock was incensed when he took a trip behind an engine called Gazelle on the old Shropshire and Montgomery Light Railway.

He addressed his fury directly at the Board of Trade and fumed: “I was put with another man and two women into the backpart of an engine with only a screen between us and the fire – no roof and the sparks and smuts falling over us – one spark nearly got in my eye – with danger of being blinded – my clothes too injured by the same.

“I wish to know whether passengers can thus be treated and deceived – for the last time I came about a fortnight ago I was conveyed in a carriage as I have hitherto been.”

And he concluded: “I had occasion to use the railway for my wife and daughter and friends from London and of course I cannot subject them to such risk and barbarous treatment.”

His complaint was not ignored.

Gazelle was soon fitted with a cab to provide passengers with some protection from the elements. In 1915 or 1916 it finally got a carriage in the form of a modified horse tram.

The 119-year-old locomotive is thought to be the smallest standard gauge engine in the UK. It is currently on display in Kent, but will travel north to be one of the stars at the National Railway Museum’s Railfest 2012.

The nine-day celebration of Britain’s railways starts on June 2 and will feature more than 30 record-breaking locomotives that have made their mark on rail history for being the fastest, largest, strongest, first, last and oldest.