Paddy mails, generally considered as being workmen's trains, were operated by, or for many companies to transport their workers to their place of work or between their sites of work.
Originally they were operated by railway contractors, on temporary tracks laid to remove spoil from their workings, to transport workers from their "shanty villages" to the work site. Many of these navvies as they were known were of Irish origin, hence the name given to the trains (see: Paddy).
Once the main line was built the name passed to the workmen's specials, which in many cases, were operated along the main line railways and sometimes operated by the main line companies to an exchange point where the trains were taken over by the industrial company.
In a time before the provision of pit-head baths it was illegal to travel in a normal service train in working clothes, so special trains were provided, usually of the railway company's most ancient coaches. There is a preserved example of such a vehicle from 1869 at the Midland Railway Centre at Butterley.
Since their main line demise the name has continued in use being applied to the underground man-riding trains which operate between the pit bottom and the working coal face.
- "Home time! The Paddy Mail transporting workers off the railway site". www.railwayarchive.org.uk. 1 January 2000. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
- Fitzgerald, R (January 1967). Cooke, B.W.C., ed. "Tempest's Blakedean Railway". The Railway Magazine. Vol. 113 no. 789. Tothill Press. p. 43. ISSN 0033-8923.
- Piggott, Nick (2016). "Railways underground". The rise and fall of king coal (1 ed.). Horncastle: Mortons Media. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-911276-01-2.
- Huson, S., (2009) Derbyshire in the age of steam, Newbury: Countryside Books
- "Looking back on final rail journey | Newark Advertiser". Newark Advertiser. 3 July 2009. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
- Elliott, Brian (2015). "4: Underground". Images of the past: coalminers (1 ed.). Barnsley: Pen & Sword. p. 91. ISBN 9781845631475.