The Influence of the Midland upon Present-
ONE of the most distinctive of British railway companies lost its identity when the Midland Railway became merged in the LMS in 1923. Nevertheless, a good deal of the Midland influence is still visible. “Midland red” has become the standard colour for all LMS passenger rolling stock, and for the chief LMS express locomotive classes, thus perpetuating the Midland principle of using the same colour for a complete train.
Derby, the hub of the old Midland system, is still an important centre of operation, as it contains the offices of the Divisional Superintendent (Midland Division) and important locomotive works. Both public and working time-
Before grouping the original Midland Railway was unique among the larger British railways, in that its own lines failed to reach the sea at any point except at Morecambe and Heysham, until its acquisition of the London, Tilbury, and Southend Railway in 1912. It reached very nearly to the coast at Bristol, and access to various ports and coastal resorts was obtained by means of joint lines in which the Midland had a part interest. Its trains ran to Liverpool over the tracks of the Cheshire Lines Committee, to Bournemouth over the Somerset and Dorset Joint Line from Bath (and a short section of the London and South Western Railway from Broadstone), and to Cromer, Yarmouth, and Lowestoft over the Midland and Great Northern Joint Line. It had also a branch extending as far west as Swansea, an isolated piece of line reached by means of running powers over the Great Western and Neath and Brecon Railways.
The Midland Railway took fourth place among the railways of Great Britain in its route mileage, which amounted in all to 1,529 in 1921; its track mileage in 1921 was 3,223. And the importance of this great system, which extended from London in the south and Bristol and Swansea in the west, to Carlisle in the north and Lincoln in the east, was that it provided a direct link between practically all the biggest centres of population in England. London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Leicester, Nottingham, and Bristol were all on the Midland system. Liverpool was, in effect, on the railway, as the track of the Cheshire Lines Committee which provided access was partly owned by the Midland. Glasgow and Edinburgh were reached by means of through Midland services over the lines of the closely-
The Midland Railway was formed in 1844 by the amalgamation of the old North Midland, Midland Counties, and Birmingham and Derby Railways. But its system extended no farther south than Rugby, and its first access to the Metropolis was from Leicester by way of Rugby, or via Tamworth and Hampton Junction, and over the London and Birmingham Railway to Euston. Then came the southward extension from Leicester to Bedford and Hitchin, whence the Midland trains made use of Great Northern metals into King’s Cross. This branch still provides the shortest route from Leicester to London, ninety-
NOTTINGHAM STATION, TO-
A feature of the Midland system was the extraordinary variety of alternative routes that it offered without any material increase of distance. Out of London, for example, the principal express trains to and from the north divide their attentions between Leicester and Nottingham. The original Leicester route is the more direct, but the loop from Kettering, through Melton Mowbray and Nottingham to Trowell, adds only five and three-
Trains from London to and from Manchester are not confined to the main line through Derby, Matlock, and Miller’s Dale, with its severe ascent over Peak Forest Summit, 980 ft above sea level. They can travel by the north route to Chesterfield, and thence up the Sheffield line through Bradway Tunnel to Dore South Junction, whence they strike westwards through Totley and Cowburn Tunnels to rejoin the Manchester line at Chinley. This detour adds only four miles, and is much easier, but it is not normally used by London-
All these alternative routes are in regular use; and their value in the event of blockage of a main line, from any cause, needs no emphasis.
NOTTINGHAM STATION, YESTERDAY. This interesting illustration depicts the departure of a train from the city in 1839.
But one of the most ambitious of all the Midland schemes of alternative routing never came to full fruition. The great city of Bradford was, and still is, on no through railway route; the only access to it was by means of branch lines of the late Midland, Great Northern, and Lancashire and Yorkshire Railways. The Midland management, therefore, conceived a costly scheme for a new railway diverging westwards from the Leeds main line near Royston, at a point eighteen miles to the south of Leeds. From here the new track travelled north-
So costly would have been the engineering work between Dewsbury and Shipley, where the Leeds-
QUEEN ADELAIDE’S COACH, introduced on the London and Birmingham Railway in 1842 for the consort of King William IV. The saloon was built by one of the leading London coach-
Of all sections of the Midland Railway, probably the most expensive in construction was that known as the Settle and Carlisle line. Before it was opened, the only Midland access to Carlisle and the North was from Hellifield by way of Clapham and Ingleton to Low Gill, on the West Coast main line of the then London and North Western Railway, and from Low Gill over Shap Summit. But the connexions at the windswept and isolated Westmorland station of Low Gill were bad, and the North Western showed no disposition to aid its competitor by improving them. The Midland therefore built its own independent route through Appleby, opened in 1875. A little over seventy-
The location of the line is one of the most interesting in Great Britain. From Settle Junction, three and a quarter miles north of Hellifield, a stiff climb begins up the Ribble Valley, fourteen miles in length, and mostly inclined at 1 in 100, reaching its culmination at Blea Moor. The great limestone peaks of Penyghent (2,273 ft) and Ingleborough (2,373 ft) are prominent here to the east and west of the line respectively. The railway now takes refuge in Blea Moor Tunnel, which is 2,389 yards in length, and thus is carried through into Dentdale, round the head of which the line passes, here fairly level but at a high altitude.
A MODERN SLEEPING CAR. This third-
Leaving Dentdale, which drains into the Irish Sea, on the west, the railway then tunnels through to the head of Wensleydale, the waters of which run in precisely the opposite direction, and find their way into the North Sea. After passing Garsdale Station, near which there are located the most loftily-
From here for forty-
Some diminution in the passenger traffic over this line has followed the grouping of the railways. Although the line still affords a useful alternative LMS route to the north, especially for freight traffic, it is questionable if the three millions sterling spent on its construction would ever have been envisaged had the grouping been contemplated at an earlier date. The Ingleton route from Hellifield to Carlisle, referred to above, is only seventy-
Frequent Light Expresses
The Midland Railway possessed more long tunnels than any other British railway, including the second longest in Great Britain, Totley Tunnel, between Dore and Grindleford on the Sheffield-
Among Midland stations, St. Pancras terminus in London, with its Gothic frontage and its remarkable single-
In the operation of its trains the Midland worked on the principle of providing fast and frequent service, with the obvious corollary of comparatively light loads. In consequence, no locomotives larger or heavier than 4-
On the Midland division of the LMS the locomotive position is now entirely altered. On express passenger services the 4-
Another locomotive revolution has taken place on the London, Tilbury and Southend Section, so long the preserve of the famous LT & SR 4-
Some years ago systematic times were adopted for the express trains from St. Pancras. The first trains to be so systematized were the Manchester expresses, which earned the nickname of the “Twenty-
A “ROYAL SCOT” CLASS LOCOMOTIVE at the Derby works of the LMS. The completed engine is seen ready for her trials. Chief dimensions are: three cylinders, 18 in by 26 in; coupled wheels, 6 ft 9 in in diameter; total heating surface, 2,480 sq ft; grate area, 31.2 sq ft; boiler pressure, 250 lb per sq in; and tractive effort, 33,150 lb. Twenty of the first seventy “Royal Scots” were built at Derby.
Similarly, between St. Pancras, Leeds and Carlisle, long before the non-
In the reverse direction, in summer, the up Midland Aberdeen express ran from Leeds to London without a stop. For a short time the schedule was 3 hours 33 minutes, within six minutes of the then best time from Leeds to King’s Cross by the Great Northern route. Now, however, the quickest Midland time between St. Pancras and Leeds is 3 hours 46 minutes, whereas the best by the LNER route has come down to 3 hours 13 minutes. The longest week day run without a stop on the Midland Division is over the 119¾ miles from St. Pancras to Trent Junction by the 6.15 pm down, this being the only train of the day to pass through Leicester Station without stopping. Trains for the north generally leave St. Pancras at the even hours, 9 am for Edinburgh, 10 am for Glasgow, 11 am for Sheffield, 11.50 am (which rather spoils the sequence) for Glasgow, 1 pm for Nottingham, and 2 pm, 3.30 pm (another exception) and 5 pm for Leeds and Bradford, with the “Yorkshireman” at 4.55 pm and the 6.15 pm as additional Bradford expresses.
On leaving the terminus, the engines are faced with adverse grades for most of the first twenty-
In this connexion it is amusing to recall that at the time of the famous “Race to Edinburgh” in 1888, and the even more famous “Race to Aberdeen” in 1895, nervous old ladies transferred their patronage to what they imagined to be the more sedate Midland Railway, not realizing that the maximum, though not the average, speeds over the Midland at that date were, in general, higher than those reached over either of the competing routes.
Beyond Bedford, which is forty-
But the most important iron and steel plant in the district is that at Corby, seven and a half miles from Kettering on the Nottingham line, where three million pounds have been spent on development during the last few years.
It is just beyond Kettering that the Leicester and Nottingham lines part company, and the four tracks which have persisted from London come to an end. The Leicester line climbs steeply, partly at 1 in 118 and 1 in 136, to Desborough North, drops at 1 in 132 to Market Harborough, where a speed reduction is enforced round the curve, rises again to Kibworth, and falls to Leicester, with a second slack, over Wigston North Junction. On the up, or southbound journey, the highest speeds may be expected at East Langton (before slowing for Market Har-
On the Kettering-
From Wigston, south of Leicester, the track again becomes quadruple, and so continues, with but brief intermissions, all the way to Shipley, north of Leeds. From Leicester to Trent Junction there is one of the rare stretches of level line on the Midland. Trent Junction is a station consisting of one large island platform, in the open country, lying midway between Nottingham and Derby.
Trent Junction was an important railway centre in bygone days, but has now lost most of its former glory. A severe slowing at Trent is succeeded by a long and gradual climb up the Erewash Valley to the summit near Doe Hill, 139½ miles from London. Dropping into Clay Cross, where the junction with the main line from Derby and the West of England necessitates a further slack, expresses bound for Sheffield then make all the speed they can past Chesterfield, with its famous crooked spire, so that the momentum may help them up the arduous 1 in 100 ascent to Bradway Tunnel.
Trains taking the direct line for Rotherham and the North have to reduce speed at Tapton Junction, Chesterfield, whence there is a straight run, mostly downhill, to the junction with the Sheffield loop at Masborough Station. From there throughout to Leeds coal is much in evidence on every hand and no high speeds are possible; and speed must also be severely reduced over the curve through Normanton. The characteristics of the mountainous route on through Settle to Carlisle have already been dealt with.
The Manchester expresses diverge from the Northern route just before Trent Junction, and ten miles farther on are at Derby, where the West of England main line from Bristol and Birmingham is joined. From Derby through the Peak District the Midland route offers one of the most justly-
On all these routes every Midland express is faced with heavy gradients, and the smartness of the station-
A MIDLAND 2-
Fast runs are made also on the long West of England branch from Derby to Bristol, over which travel such important cross-
As previously mentioned, it is possible for Midland trains to avoid New Street by taking the Camp Hill route from Saltley to King’s Norton. The exit from New Street, which in either direction is through a tunnel, is as steep as 1 in 80 in the southward direction, and the grades continue for the most part to ascend until the summit-
Bromsgrove is at the foot, and from there on to Cheltenham the engines have a fine racing-
RAILWAY RELICS OF THE PAST. The opening bills and time-
The original line passed through Worcester, but the direct line from Stoke Works to Wadborough, used by the principal expresses, “by-
Practically all LMS express trains to the west call at both Cheltenham and Gloucester, connected by a line jointly owned by the LMS and Great Western Railways. South of Gloucester the LMS and the GWR Gloucester-
The most important junction south of Gloucester is Mangotsfield, where the branch line to Bath diverges on the left. Temple Meads Station at Bristol, 130 miles from Derby, is shared with the Great Western Railway.
LEICESTER STATION, now one of the most important junctions on the Midland Division of the LMS. The 99.1 miles between this station and St. Pancras, London, are covered by the best expresses in 105 minutes. Most of the fast trains to and from London stop at Leicester.
[From part 39, published 25 October 1935]
[Read the next article in part 39]