A Famous Train of the LMS
SUCH are the modest dimensions of these islands on which we live that most of our biggest cities are within tolerably easy reach of the sea. The result is that very many commercial people take advantage of this accessibility by carrying on their business in their respective cities, but living at the seaside. This is a habit that the railway companies, not unnaturally, like to encourage, for it means a considerably longer journey, and therefore a proportionately higher season ticket rate, than if the same people were run merely to and from the city suburbs.
Thousands of London businessmen, for example, come up daily from places as far afield as Southend, Brighton, Eastbourne, Worthing, Folkestone, Margate, Ramsgate, Clacton and Walton, ranging in distance from 35 to 75 miles away, and taking in time from one to two hours on the journey in each direction. Glasgow similarly has within reach the beautiful resorts on the Firth of Clyde, and Leeds and Bradford people do not find Scarborough or Bridlington too far away. Liverpool is as nearly on the sea as makes no matter, while Birmingham, alone among the big cities, finds the sea a little too remote for residential purposes.
But it is with Manchester that we are concerned this month. The business Mancunian has a fine stretch of coast from which to choose. His favourite seaside places of residence are Blackpool, with its outlying suburbs of Lytham and St. Anne’s, and Southport. Rhyl, Colwyn Bay and Llandudno also claim their share of this daily city-
Of the two stations, Victoria is considerably the larger. Its accommodation was greatly increased early in the present century, when a new terminal portion, with 10 platforms, was added on the south side for the use of the trains to and from the Oldham, Stalybridge and Bury directions, the last-
An ingenious part of the equipment at Victoria is the overhead luggage carrier, which runs right across the station just under the roof. It is electrically worked, and the operator, who has a precarious perch below the carrier, is able, by suitable hoisting tackle, to lower his capacious luggage basket on any platform and, when it has been filled, to lift it and whisk it away to any part of the station required, without delay and with a minimum of effort.
Exchange station is on a much smaller scale and has only five platforms. It is No. 3 at Exchange, coupled with No. 11 at Victoria, that will ultimately make the 2,196 ft platform, but by means of suitable crossovers it will be able to accommodate two or three trains simultaneously. So the two stations have between them 22 platforms, and when united will make one of the largest stations in the country, though from the point of view of compactness the combination could hardly bear comparison with, say, Waterloo terminus in London.
Shortly after four o’clock in the afternoon we make our way past the Cathedral at Manchester into Exchange Station, for the departure of the first of the “club” trains. This reminds me that I have not yet explained what a “club” train is. A considerable number of years ago certain Blackpool residents formed a kind of travelling club, and requested the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway authorities to provide them with a saloon coach in which they might travel together in a comfortably “clubbable” fashion. The railway people fell in with the idea, and the “club” saloon was duly included in the formation of the chosen Manchester-
Since then on all the chief residential expresses between Manchester and Blackpool and Manchester and Southport very fine open corridor coaches have come into use, and the trains are made up thus from end to end. Thus there is not, perhaps, the same call for the club saloon as once there was, but it is still run, and the club members are assured of privacy for their journey. The same idea has been taken up since by-
The actual “club” trains are the 4.30 p.m. from Exchange to Llandudno, the 5.5 p.m. from Exchange to Windermere, and the 5.10 p.m. from Victoria to Blackpool; but the 5 p.m. from Victoria to Southport and the 4.55 and 5.2 p.m. from the same station to Blackpool also have sufficient of a “club” character to be included in our survey. The collection of coast-
The first of these expresses to be away is the 4.30 p.m. from Exchange to the North Wales coast. At one time it was timed at a rather higher speed than now, as only 48 minutes were allowed for the 40 miles between Manchester and Chester and 34 minutes for the 30 miles on to Rhyl, which, with a four-
For the working of the train, which consists of 10 up-
Blackpool “Club” Train.
Soon after leaving Exchange, the Llandudno “club” train passes on to the historic Liverpool and Manchester route of 1830, now all but a century old. Until we leave it, at Earlestown Junction, the line is nearly dead level, and as we are clearing the eastern suburbs of Manchester, at Patricroft, speed should be rising above the ‘‘sixty” line. For miles now we run across the bleak spaces of the famous Chat Moss, which gave George Stephenson such untold trouble in the laying of the Liverpool and Manchester line. It was only by laying great “rafts” of interwoven hurdles, brushwood and heather over the treacherous surface, and then building up his embankment on them as a foundation, that Chat Moss was conquered.
Between Kenyon junction and Newton-
From the Ship Canal bridge we diverge immediately to the left to join the old Chester route, and then begin to rise steadily. In the course of the ascent we cross over the route we have just left and continue mounting until we reach Halton Tunnel, which carries us through the crest of the ridge. Above the tunnel, which is just over a mile in length, runs the London-
Once more there is a long level stretch ahead, first by the left bank of the Dee, and then along the North Wales coast. At Shotton, by the way, there is an “exchange” station with the London and North Eastern Railway, which runs overhead. Probably few people are aware that the LNER have lines in North Wales. Originally these belonged to the Wrexham, Mold and Connah’s Quay Railway, which was absorbed by the Great Central. This little section of the LNER is completely isolated from the parent system, to which access is obtained only over the Cheshire Lines Committee’s tracks. But meanwhile we are hastening on past Flint and Holywell, and at 5.52 p.m. we reach Prestatyn, having covered the 66½ miles from Exchange in 82 minutes. Over the rest of the journey we have no time to dwell. Stops are made at Rhyl, Abergele, Colwyn Bay and Llandudno Junction, and by 6.43 p.m. the Llandudno “club” train it, at rest in Llandudno, 87¾ miles from Manchester.
Well before this time the Blackpool and Southport “club ” trains have finished their shorter journeys. Of these the 4.55 p.m. is usually the lightest, eight corridor coaches, two of which are destined for Fleetwood, sufficing for the greater part of the year. The engine we shall probably find to be one of the fine Horwich-
Over the extraordinarily sinuous section of line from Manchester through Salford to the “Windsor Bridge No. 3” Junction at Pendleton we gain speed, in preparation for the stiff climb past the station bearing the singular name of “Irlams-
We are now running over a short spur line that carries us across to the Preston line proper, from which we diverged at Pendleton. It is presumably to ease the congestion of the latter route, which has but two tracks, that the majority of the Blackpool expresses are booked to take the much harder four-
After the steep pull out of Preston the difficulties of our engine are at an end, as there is little in the way of grades from there on to Blackpool. After eight miles of four-
From here three routes are available to Blackpool, and it is interesting to note that all three are used in succession by the 4.55, 5.2 and 5.10 p.m. trains. We are to curve to the right, taking the northernmost, to the Talbot Road Station, on the north side of Blackpool. The 5.2 will take the central route, direct to Waterloo Road and from there into the Central Station. This is both the shortest in distance and the most recent in construction, but as it serves Blackpool only, and none of the outlying towns, its use (with the exception of this 5.2 p.m. express) is confined to special and excursion trains. Then comes the 5.10 p.m, which follows the southernmost route into Blackpool, curving round in a great loop to reach Lytham, Ansdell and St. Anne’s on the way to Waterloo Road and Central Station.
For the 14½& miles from Preston to Poulton the 4.55 p.m. express is allowed 17 min, and we make our first stop, 44¼ miles from Manchester, 61 minutes after starting. Here the two through coaches for Fleetwood are detached from the rear, and with six coaches left we pass on to Bispham, where a brief stop is made, and Talbot Road, arriving at 6.6 p.m. We have covered a total distance of 47¼ miles, and the comparative slowness of the running must be put down to the difficulties of the route.
Platform 12, Manchester Victoria Station.
Between the 4.55 and 5.2 Blackpool expresses there comes the 5 p.m. Southport express. This is a considerably heavier train, the winter formation amounting to 11 open corridor coaches, often expanded in summer to 12 or 13. This also is usually a “Class 8” 4-
The Southport express follows close on the heels -
We now have to follow the fortunes of the 5.2 and 5.10 p.m. Blackpool trains. The former has an eight-
The 5.10 p.m. -
There is now but one “club” train left to mention -
The Windermere train provides a very easy locomotive working. It is usually entrusted to a Midland compound, but occasionally to a 4-
One point that cannot fail to be noted in connection with the trains whose working is described in this article is the amazing complexity of the London, Midland and Scottish system in Lancashire. We have just seen how four expresses leave two adjacent Manchester stations for Preston within 10 minutes of each other, each one following a different course. The 5 p.m. Southport express and the 5 o’clock from Exchange to Glasgow, again, often run for considerable distances in sight of one another on their journey to or through the two neighbouring stations at Wigan. It must be remembered, however, that this complexity arises partly from the fact that two systems once independent have now been amalgamated. As is the case in many other parts of the country, had the grouping of the railways taken place at an earlier date, it is probable that many such routes, built purely for competitive purposes, would never have come into being. The money thus spent could often have been put to far better use in the doubling and improvement of previously existing lines. But these unnecessarily ramified tracks, all of which have to be staffed and maintained, constitute not the least of the problems which our great railways have to face, in their struggle towards more economical working. Possibly the necessity for strict economy in railway working may eventually lead to some of the alternative routes being closed.