Royal Mail Service between London and Northern Ireland
PLATFORMS 12 AND 13 at Euston Station, terminus of the Western Division of the LMS, are used by outward-
AT the beginning of the last century there were four main services between England and Northern Ireland. The 5.30 pm express from Euston to Liverpool and Manchester had a portion described in the time-
Another Belfast service was provided be a direct steamer from Liverpool, connecting with an evening express from Euston. This service still exists.
The third service to Northern Ireland was via Holyhead and Greenore, Co. Louth. The “Greenore Boat Express”, leaving Euston at 6.30 pm., ran on the “Irish Mail” route as far as Holyhead. From Greenore through carriages were provided to Belfast and Londonderry.
The fourth service, via Stranraer (Wigtownshire) and Larne (Co. Antrim), operated the shortest sea-
In 1904 the Midland Railway -
In the next few years there were some important developments. In 1906 the Great Western became a competitor for the Anglo-
By 1914 some further alterations had been made. The old 5.30 pm Liverpool and Manchester express had been superseded by three trains -
The war of 1914-
The next important step was taken some years after the Railways Act of 1921 came into force. After the fusion of the London and North Western and Midland Railways the Euston-
Four Outgoing Expresses
The “Ulster Express”, now working to an accelerated schedule, runs every day, including Sundays. From Mondays to Fridays, inclusive, it leaves Euston at 6.10 pm, and reaches Heysham at 10.52 pm, after stopping at Crewe, Preston. and Morecambe (Promenade). The distance to Heysham from Euston is 239 miles, or nearly twenty-
On Saturdays the “Ulster Express” leaves at 6.40 pm, and, stopping at the same stations though on an easier schedule, reaches Heysham at 11.33. On Sundays it leaves at 6.05 pm, and stops additionally at Rugby and Lancaster before reaching Heysham at 11.17 pm.
The connecting express from the Midland Division haves St. Pancras at 5 pm (4 pm on Saturdays in summer), and arrives at Heysham at 11.21. There is no service by this route on Sundays. Another connecting express, from Leeds and Manchester, on the Central Division of the LMS, reaches Heysham at 11.10 pm (11 pm on Saturdays). On Sundays this train starts from Manchester.
The steamer normally leaves Heysham about 11.40 pm and reaches Belfast about 6.30 the following morning. On Sundays it leaves ten minutes earlier.
Having dealt with the time-
Euston Station is at its busiest every week-
NEARING WATFORD, HERTS. 17½, miles from Euston. The “passing time” of the “Ulster Express” at Watford is twenty-
All four trains are made up of the latest corridor and vestibule stock, and lavishly equipped with dining accommodation. From the point of luxury there is very little to choose between them. The third-
It would be unsafe to give a definite figure for the loading of the “Ulster Express”, as this naturally varies with the traffic. The total load, including a through carriage for Rochdale, detached at Crewe, may be about thirteen or fourteen coaches weighing, with passengers, staff, and luggage, about 430-
The locomotive stock of the LMS is to-
The Evening Procession
Let us suppose that on the day of our journey we have a “Royal Scot” at the head of our train, and that it is made up to thirteen coaches and weighs 430 tons all found. A load of this size is well within the capacity of the engine. Since, however, the “Ulster Express” starts fourth in the evening procession to the north, it is liable to be affected by the vicissitudes of any one of the three trains in front as far as Rugby, where the Birmingham train diverges. Thence to Crewe it has two trains in front, and from Crewe to Weaver Junction, sixteen miles beyond Crewe, it follows the “Merseyside Express”. The necessity for strict time-
The schedule to Crewe, 158.1 miles in 167 minutes, demands an average speed from start to stop of 56.8 and a running average of fully sixty miles an hour, since there are three compulsory or “service slacks” -
CREWE STATION is the first stop on the journey of the “Ulster Express”. The 158.1 miles from Euston to Crewe are scheduled to be covered in 167 minutes; this timing involves an average speed of 56.8 miles an hour and is the fastest on the journey. Engines are generally changed at this important junction, so the “Ulster Express” is allowed an eight minutes’ halt here.
All trains leaving Euston are faced with a formidable bank, about a mile long, varying in steepness from 1 in 70 to 1 in 112. From the top of this gradient however, for a distance of about one hundred and ninety miles, with a few exceptions, the Western Division main line is characterised by long undulating inclines, with a moderate ruling gradient of about 1 in 330. For the first thirty-
As far as Morecambe South junction, 232.9 miles from Euston, the train runs on the route of the Royal Scot, described in the chapter beginning on page 40. The present account, however, will deal more particularly with the gradients and certain aspects of the locomotive work,
Starting punctually at 6.10, our “Royal Scot” possibly No. 6110 “Grenadier Guardsman”, steams out of Euston and settles down to the climb of the bank outside the terminus. At the top of the bank, on the left, is seen Camden Shed, where many passenger locomotives of the latest types may be on view. These will include more “Royal Scots”, some “5XP’s”, “Baby Scots”, Midland compounds, and possibly a “Pacific”. On the right is Chalk Farm Station, on the suburban line to Broad Street.
There is a peculiar fascination about the left-
Another factor vitally affecting the enjoyment a journey by the “Ulster Express” is the season of the year. From May to July, thanks partly to the length of the days, which become longer in summer the farther north we travel, and partly to the Daylight Saving Act, virtually the whole of the run from Euston to Heysham is made in daylight. In winter it is dark the whole way. The traveller, unless he is uncannily acquainted with the route, cannot spot the quarter-
Having passed Camden, the “Ulster Express” plunges into Primrose Hill Tunnel emerging at South Hampstead. Immediately on leaving the tunnel it passes under the main line of the former Great Central Railway -
The Chiltern Hills
Willesden Junction is passed at about fifty-
Wembley Stadium -
Precisely at the tenth mile-
The long gradient may bring our speed down to fifty-
“ROYAL SCOT” CLASS LOCOMOTIVES are frequently used to haul the “Ulster Express”. Above is “The Girl Guide”, No. 6168 of the class. These 4-
The first water troughs are encountered on a level stretch at the top of the bank, just before Bushey Station, 16 miles from Euston. The London and North Western was the first railway to lay down water troughs -
Taking advantage both of the drink and of the slight downward grade that follows, “Grenadier Guardsman” speeds through Watford Junction (17.5 miles) in twenty-
The country gradually becomes more attractive as we approach the Chiltern Hills. The Grand Union Canal, one of the most important in England -
Tring Summit, 31 miles from Euston, is passed at about fifty to fifty-
There now follows a downhill stretch of fifteen miles to Bletchley, the first six miles of which are graded at 1 in 333. The first two miles are a deep cutting. The working time-
Bletchley, 46.7 miles, is due to be passed in fifty-
The grade is still favourable, and we soon come, near the 52nd mile-
Beyond Castlethorpe Troughs, 54 miles, there begins a tiresome ascent of nearly seven miles at 1 in 326-
As far as the divergence for Northampton, the main line has had four tracks, two for express and two for slow and goods traffic. Until Watford Junction was passed there were as many as six tracks, two of them for suburban electric trains. Henceforth we have to be content with a double track, which becomes triple or quadruple here and there, sometimes for long stretches.
We are due to pass Blisworth, 62.8 miles, in sixty-
There now follows a virtually level stretch to Weedon, 69.7 miles from Euston. From Weedon Station a branch line, seen on the left, runs to Leamington Spa via Daventry, whose ancient fame acquired new laurels in recent years from its wireless broadcasting station. We are next faced with a climb at 1 in 490-
A LUXURY CABIN on board the SS Duke of Lancaster, a modern steamer owned by the LMS, and operating on the crossing between Heysham and Belfast. The Irish Channel crossing occupies nearly seven hours, the steamer leaving about 11.40pm and arriving at Belfast about 6.30am.
The “Ulster Express” may drop to about fifty-
Rugby, 82.6 miles, is due to be passed in eighty-
Beyond Rugby the gradient continues to be favourable for about a mile to Newbold Troughs, which, of course, are on the level. The line then rises gradually to Shilton Summit, just short of the 92nd mile-
Nuneaton, 97.1 miles from Euston, has to be passed in 103 minutes. The next fifteen miles are almost all downhill, the steepest gradient being two miles at 1 in 321 beyond Atherstone, an old market town on Watling Street. Watling Street, the Roman road from Dover through London to Chester, is still partly followed by the Holyhead Road of Telford. Until an unfortunate colliery subsidence near Polesworth (106.5 miles) some years ago the downhill stretch beyond Nuneaton was taken at high speed throughout, but the slack to about forty-
At Tamworth (110 miles; schedule 116 minutes) our line passes under the important cross-
Lichfield, the birthplace of Dr. Johnson, is 116.3 miles from Euston and has to be passed in just over two hours -
AT HEYSHAM. This photograph shows the LMS lines converging upon the dock. From Mondays to Fridays the “Ulster Express” covers the rail journey of 239 miles from Euston to Heysham in four hours forty-
The top of the rise is gained before the 118th mile-
After Shugborough Tunnel the main line passes Milford and Brocton (129.5 miles) and at Trent Valley Junction (133.1 miles) it is joined by the original main line from Birmingham and Wolverhampton. The line curves a good deal about here, and speed is severely restricted. A passenger in a compartment towards the rear of the train will have no difficulty in seeing the engine from his window without having to lean out. The speed restriction, to forty miles an hour, continues through Stafford, 133.66 miles from Euston, due to be passed in 140 minutes. A LMS branch, running west to Wellington (Salop) and Shrewsbury, is used by a through service from Euston to Central Wales. A LNER branch runs east to Derby via Uttoxeter. Beyond Stafford the line, now quadruple as far as Crewe, is level for two and a half miles; but for twelve miles to the 148th mile-
Before us now us a swift descent for the remaining ten miles to Crewe. Except for the formidable climb out of Euston, the steepest gradients on the southern section of the Western Division main line are here encountered. Fortunately for us they are downhill. Two miles at 1 in 348 are followed by over three miles at 1 in 177 to a point beyond Betley Road (153 miles). Thence three miles at 1 in 269 and a final short stretch at 1 in 330 bring us into Crewe.
The driver of the “Ulster Express”, having had an unchecked run so far -
First Stop -
Crewe is 158.1 miles from Euston. The “Ulster Express” may improve on its schedule of 167 minutes by a minute or two. The passenger, observing lines coming in from all directions, may like to know that Crewe is the junction for important lines south-
Engines are generally changed at Crewe. “Grenadier Guardsman” may give place to another 4-
THE PROMENADE STATION at Morecambe, Lancs, is a terminus. An 0-
We next have to pass the Manchester Ship Canal, that artificial waterway which has converted the inland city of Manchester into one of the chief ports in Great Britain. To reach the bridges over the canal and the River Mersey, which also has to be crossed, the line rises sharply for one and a half miles at 1 in 135. On the other side it falls for the same distance and at the same inclination. But our driver cannot make full use of the down grade, as there is a slight speed restriction through Warrington.
Warrington, 24.1 miles from Crewe, has to be passed in twenty-
A slight rise to Winwick Junction, (27.5 miles) is followed by a sharp ascent of over two miles at 1 in 132-
Through Industrial Lancashire
The stretch hence to Wigan does not invite high speed, as there may be restrictions due to colliery subsidences, Coal mines are seen on either side.
Wigan, 35.9 miles from Crewe and 194 miles from Euston, is passed, if there have been no delays, in thirty-
ON THE UP LINE, near Watford. The up “Ulster Express” though not as speedy as the down train, has a fast run from Rugby to Euston. Watford is at the foot of a long incline from a point near Tring, 13½ miles to the north-
Preston is 50.9 miles from Crewe and 209 miles from Euston. It is due to be reached in fifty-
The “Ulster Express”, however, keeps to the main line for over twenty miles more, Train-
The industrial belt is now left behind, and the scenery gradually becomes more and more attractive. Dim mountain shapes may be descried on the horizon in the light of the setting sun. The rocky nature of the soil is expressed in the stone walls which take the place of hedges. From Lancaster Old Junction. (19.9 miles) the line suddenly drops from the low table land at a gradient of 1 in 98. Lancaster (21 miles from Preston and 230 miles from Euston) is due to be passed in twenty-
The sea is now very near. We cross the River Lune, near its mouth, just beyond Lancaster, and slow down for Morecambe South Junction (22.9 miles), where we leave the main LMS line to Carlisle and Scotland. We have now reached the shores of Morecambe Bay, on the farther side of which if it is still light, may be seen the outlines of the Lake Mountains guarding their fairyland of beauty. The “Ulster Express” halts at Morecambe (Promenade) Station, on the Midland Division of the LMS, having covered the twenty-
The Promenade Station at Morecambe is a terminus. A sturdy 0-
A word or two about the steamers may not be out of place. When the new service was inaugurated on April 30, 1928, three new twin-
At normal times one of these steamers is waiting for the train at the quay side, but on Friday nights in the summer no fewer than three are required to deal with the traffic. The last of the boat expresses arrives, and the steamer leaves at about 11.40 pm. About 6.30 am the following morning it is due at Donegall Quay, Belfast.
THE UP “ULSTER EXPRESS” at the end of the journey at Euston Station. The train arrives at London at 11.0am, with the mail from Northern Ireland. The train in this illustration has been hauled by a 4-
[From part 44, published 29 November 1935]