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Creating a believable freelance pre-Group company

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I thought I’d open a discussion inspired by some of the others here, in particular SkinnyLinny and his GSR project, on creating a believable freelance pre-Group layout. This is very much an armchair modeller thread as though I’d really like to build a layout along these lines, I am heavily committed to another one on a very different theme and will be for some years. Still, everyone needs a bit of a break and a change of air.

 

When I say “freelance” I mean a fictitious company, with fictitious stock and possibly even a fictitious location. I don’t mean the many “might have been” layouts that imagine a historical company building a line where one didn’t exist. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about those, and my sketchbooks are full of drawings and layout plans for an SER branch from Canterbury to Herne Bay or a short branch from Grove Ferry (on the Canterbury-Ramsgate line) to Wingham. I actually started building Wickhambreux but work circumstances intervened and it never got further than the track laying.

 

One problem with making that sort of line believable is that our Victorian forebears were so active in railway building that every line that made economic sense was built, along with many that didn’t. That branch to Herne Bay for example was proposed several times during the nineteenth century but the promoters could never raise the investment. After WW1 the route from Canterbury to Herne Bay would become one of East Kent’s busiest and most profitable bus routes, but that is also because there was a lot of residential new build in Herne Bay in the 20s and 30s delivering passengers that weren’t there in the 1890s.

 

Another “might have been” approach is to imagine lines that were built having had a different history. One example I’ve tinkered with is to imagine the Leatherhead to Horsham line having fallen into the hands of the SER rather than the Brighton and thus Horsham having a separate SER station. Anyone who knows Horsham station today might look at the sidings now used by the engineers and their alignment to the Warnham line rather than the Crawley one and surmise that was once another company’s station, rather like Salisbury GWR was in relation to the LSWR one.

 

These ideas still involved a historical railway company, in my case the SER/SECR. What would really be interesting though would be creating a completely fictitious company. That though throws up an entirely new set of challenges.

 

But first let’s consider period. Unless the idea is to create not just a fictitious railway company but an entire fictitious country (have any Scots ever considered the railways of an independent Scotland btw?), our imaginary railway would have to be pre-1923 and the Grouping into the Big Four. Pre-grouping though is three or four distinct periods. There is the early experimental period, which is interesting but probably not what we are looking for here. After that there are really three distinct periods characterised by different types of locos and stock and by general appearance.

 

The period of expansion, covering the Mania years of the 1840s and 1860s and going up to 1870 or so, is characterised by small six wheel locos, 2-4-0, 2-2-2 and 0-4-2 as well as the ubiquitous 0-6-0, and mainly four wheel carriages. There certainly were many railway companies in existence then who later merged or were absorbed into others. Things like signalling were in their infancy and even city stations might be out in open countryside as the area aound them was still in the process of being built up.

 

The period of consolidation, the decades from 1880 or so up to the end of the century is when we start to see larger passenger coaches – six wheelers and bogie coaches – and larger engines to haul them. Single driver locos are falling out of fashion and the 4-4-0 design becomes dominant. In urban areas tank engines start to appear in numbers. Signalling regulations are being applied and using locomotives to shunt yards becomes standard – and thus wagon turntables fall into disuse.

The last period, the Edwardian period, is where all the components of the steam railway are present. Engines are larger, commuters and rural branch passengers may still be enduring box like four wheelers but the long haul passenger now has reasonably comfortable bogie coaches, even in third class. Goods stock has also moved on with RCH designs for mineral wagons and other common user stock making things more standardised. There are also considerably more trains as increasing prosperity means more demand for travel.

 

So what period would you set your fictitious company in? My choice would be the middle one though I must admit a Crampton single hauling an express of half a dozen four wheelers with curved quarterlights does appeal. Or what about a long boiler 0-6-0 with a string of dumb-buffered mineral wagons?

 

If you create a fictitious company do you also need to design your own locomotives. This could be a little fraught given that few of us would know how to design a working steam locomotive. Maybe the attraction does lie in designing that express loco with eight foot drivers or the suburban tank engine with a driving position at both ends. Probably most of us though would be satisfied with designing the cosmetic bits of company style, cab shapes and dome styles, that sort of thing. Then you can build around the bare bones of a real locomotive – wheel diameter, boiler and firebox size, cylinder position and so on – and create your own design. Since real loco design in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century often re-used the same boiler and firebox designs it would also be feasible to take the basics of a successful 0-6-0 and create, say, a 2-4-2T passenger tank design.

 

The other route to take is to imagine that your fictitious company bought off the shelf from the major builders such as Sharp-Stewart or Beyer-Peacock. Beyer-Peacock was much more successful selling abroad than in Britain so it might be interesting to imagine yourself as one of BP’s few loyal British customers. One way of doing this might be to anglicise (or re-anglicise) some of BP’s locos for the Dutch StaatsSpoorwegen, bringing things like funnels and domes down to fit within the British loading gauge and discarding the things like feedwater heaters that Continentals liked but which had little appeal in Britain.

 

Of course the real fun in imganing your own company lies in choosing your own paint scheme. However even that requires some research. The Victorian and Edwardian colour chart was very limited compared to ours, and some colours – blue for example – were often tried and then discarded because they didn’t wear well. So to be believable, your chosen livery should be based on pigments available a century or more ago.

 

Food for thought?

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Interesting 'food for thought' indeed.

While relatively common practice over the pond, such imaginative schemes seem quite rare over here and the few I've seen, seem poorly executed (large use of plain 'Letraset' initials etc).

I would suggest locos and rolling stock should have a common appearance, as though all designed by one person, two at most, otherwise, you would end up with a hodge-podge of different designs, shades of Col. Stephens light railways? (not that they're not 'believable' just that, for a completely fictitious railway company, you should avoid this, imho).

Liveries - if you want to do all the work yourself, what about lining? Most pre-group companies seemed to adopt fairly ornate schemes and it might be hard to recreate unless you're good with a lining pen.

Colours - I have been reading about colours used by the earlier railways in Europe and the following were quite common;

Black, green (light & dark), purple, red, red/brown, brown, blue and yellow! Yellow was a common stagecoach livery and purple was a common regular 'royal' livery.

 

I like the idea of re-anglicising Dutch stock but beware: it is usually very expensive and it is H0 scale, although a British H0 scale fictitious layout would be fascinating to me and could be done with some scratch-building - which if you're going to build your own designs anyway, should not be a problem.

Just my initial thoughts, hopefully more will occur later.

Cheers,

John.

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I wonder if the best solution might be to take a merger that happened in the 1850s or 1860s, say, and postulate that it didnt happen - or that it happened with different constituents?

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While relatively common practice over the pond, such imaginative schemes seem quite rare over here ...

Agreed. Maybe because of the real life situation in the US, where Short Lines are basically real-life "Freelance" Companies, American modellers are more in tune with such a concept. Whereas even though the modern British railway has been 'privatised' for some years, no one invents a modern freelance TOC, even though any fictional livery devised could never be as outlandish as some of the sights that have been seen on UK rails in recent years!!

Maybe decades of a nationalised rail industry has conditioned British modellers to slavishly follow prototype accuracy concerning locos & rolling stock, even if they make up fictitious locations for their layouts. So small wonder it isn't really done much for earlier Eras, unless it's done under the "Light railway" umbrella.

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I remember a layout in October 1972 Model Railway Constructor . It was the first model railway mag I ever got , I think it may have been a free offer if you sent away to Hornby or something like that! Anyway , one of the articles was on the locomotives of a freelance railway as you describe . The Stelwin Islands Railway, for some reason known as SIOG . I think he imagined they had their own language too! Locomotives were mainly 0-6-0 tender types with 0-6-2T for passenger . Livery was maroon with blue lining and the whole thing was set in an imaginary island with a main town called Manorbridge . The article was set out in a way that you could see an evolution of a family of locomotives . They weren't just locos from other companies re painted .

 

Perhaps others can remember the articles much better than me . I can't lay my hands on it but I'm sure it was Oct 72 if there is an archive

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what about lining? Most pre-group companies seemed to adopt fairly ornate schemes and it might be hard to recreate unless you're good with a lining pen.

 

 

That comes back to period. Lining in Edwardian times could certainly be very ornate, take the SE&CR as an example. However things were a lot simpler a couple of decades earlier and lining out was generally no more complex than in BR times. It was also often restricted to passenger engines, goods engines running unlined, sometimes just unrelieved black.

 

Doesn't the practice of lining out go back to stagecoach days and was originally done to mask the way the grain of the wood lay differently when panels were joined to make boxes.

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I've had a couple of schemes in the past, my main one being the LW&SR (London, Wimbledon & Sutton Railway), based on a line proposal that, in reality, wasn't built until SR days, but it was planned to take LSWR, LBSCR and District Rly trains. In my scenario, the independent company that existed in real life built the line and operated it themselves.

 

I proposed the use of Sharp, Stewart 4-4-0's and 0-6-0's, based on those used by the Furness Railway, ex-Met and District 4-4-0 Condensing tanks, and of course the ubiquitous Terrier. I also proposed a few ancient Manning Wardles and ex-LSWR Machines. Perhaps 0415's cascaded from their London Duties and sold on. I planned a livery very similar to James' WNR livery for coaching stock, and a lined green for locos.

 

I planned to model Morden South, with the associated dairy sidings, but it never happened!

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I wonder if the best solution might be to take a merger that happened in the 1850s or 1860s, say, and postulate that it didnt happen - or that it happened with different constituents?

 

Postulating the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton remained independent to 1923 for example

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There was a "real" West Midland Railway—the OW&WR used this title for a short time before selling out to the GWR. And Edward Beal used this title for his model railway back in the 1950s which, I believe, had a number of freelance locos. Not something which really happens now.

 

The problem with creating a realistic pre-grouping company is that, unlike the USA, virtually all British railways had their own distinctive fleets of locos. Less of a problem with the "Colonel Stephens" style of light railway.

 

On thing that occurs is imagining what might have happened if the Grouping had been done differently—a separate Scottish group, perhaps, or the Midland being part of the LNER...

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A subject close to my heart.

 

We have a fine tradition of freelance Light Railway and industrial schemes in standard gauge, and it has something that has always been embraced by the Narrow gauge community.  Nevertheless, while there are some very well-known examples (John Ahern's Madder Valley and Edward Beal's West Midland Railway would seem the most obvious examples), we do not have a tradition to rival the freelance Roads that the North American modeller has propagated.

 

It has been said before that the root cause of this is the different way in which railways in the respective nations were equipped.  Most major pre-Grouping companies had there own peculiar locomotive and rolling stock designs.  Even where built by private contractors, they where to the railway company's own designs in the majority of cases.  In North America, different Roads purchased much the same equipment from private builders.

 

Many British outline modellers are content to invent railway  lines, but generally they want to follow the practice of a real railway and to run real locomotives and stock.

 

The freelancer cannot rely on models of real life prototypes that represent other companies, and, further, has to invent his own distinctive house style for locomotives and rolling stock, where the line is one of any importance, that is. 

 

This is a bar to most modellers, but a glorious opportunity for others!

 

I did, once, somewhere, post what were some of the categories of freelance railways.  The point was that, following the prototype, some would be small concerns reliant upon standard designs by private builders such as Beyer Peacock and Sharp Stewart, right through to a major pre-Grouping company with its own history of amalgamations, and its own locomotive and stock designs over successive Superintendents.

 

There are some nice Beyer Peacock designs used by the Netherlands railways, and, thanks to the suggestions of the Parish, the Directors of the West Norfolk on a Continental Journey, were so impressed by an 1880s Sharp Stewart 2-4-2T experiences on the Rhenish Railways, that they immediately ordered one for themselves.   A Sharp Stewart that was essentially a Furness Railway Seagull was also in service in the Netherlands.

 

Another possibility to consider would be locomotives built for Irish railways.  Had there been demand, they could have been built to standard gauge, indeed, OO Works' new Irish 0-6-0 is pretty much a standard Beyer Peacock 0-6-0 design in a wider gauge and with a local style of cab. 

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Edited by Edwardian
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I suppose to a certain extent my modelling comes under this banner, but I didn't come up with the concept of the NWR or its main stud of miscellaneous locos, which all have a backstory, but I am developing the idea into more my own - matching liveries for example.

I also developed a couple of offshoots, one of which is the TK&FR, which I can be a bit more free with.

I've modelled 3 locos, a Dubs 0-6-0T and two Kitson 2-6-0T locos, all to a similar style. I actually really enjoyed making two of the same class and it's something I want to repeat, as well as rolling stock that clearly belongs to the same company.

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Edited by Corbs
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I suppose to a certain extent my modelling comes under this banner, but I didn't come up with the concept of the NWR or its main stud of miscellaneous locos, which all have a backstory, but I am developing the idea into more my own - matching liveries for example.

I also developed a couple of offshoots, one of which is the TK&FR, which I can be a bit more free with.

I've modelled 3 locos, a Dubs 0-6-0T and two Kitson 2-6-0T locos, all to a similar style. I actually really enjoyed making two of the same class and it's something I want to repeat, as well as rolling stock that clearly belongs to the same company.

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I think both the way you have translated the core fictional elements to something very believable, but then gone on the extrapolate, is the strength of your project.  That and the quality and originality of the modelling.  I always enjoy seeing what you're producing.

Edited by Edwardian
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as has been suggested, many smaller companies bought off-the-shelf loco designs from the big manufacturers – much as happened in the USA I guess – hence the Sharp Stewart 2-4-0 was to be found on the Furness, the Cambrian, the M&MR and the P&TR at least. Their little goods 0-6-0 was almost as ubiquitous. Beyer Peacock designs were also to be sen on many companies' lines as you can see from Edwardian's photos. But please don't go down the Edward Beal route of using easily recognisable railway company designs with different boiler fittings! Freelancing was much more common in his day, but rarely if ever done well.

 

There are lots of real railways which, if you didn't know better, you'd think were freelance: the MSWJR, the M&MR, the Cambrian, the Furness, the H&BR etc (I don't count the M&GN and SDJR except in independent days).

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i think what I would do is imagine a scenario where Grouping didn't happen and some Railways ,in dire straits financially, were taken over by Hudson "Railway King"  type figure to create a large Company transcending boundaries. It would take a lot of research to do it properly but something like the idea of the GCR which started "up North" with a view to running to France, taking in the MSLR, Met and SER iirc.   

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This was my thinking: the core fleet was to have been Sharp, Stewart designs, a few ex-District Beyer Peacocks, and then a few LSWR and LBSCR Cast Offs, along with locos still owned by those companies on either through services or hired in.

 

I too have enjoyed Nile's thread and, more recently that of the good fellow Corbs!

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as has been suggested, many smaller companies bought off-the-shelf loco designs from the big manufacturers – much as happened in the USA I guess – hence the Sharp Stewart 2-4-0 was to be found on the Furness, the Cambrian, the M&MR and the P&TR at least. Their little goods 0-6-0 was almost as ubiquitous. Beyer Peacock designs were also to be sen on many companies' lines as you can see from Edwardian's photos. But please don't go down the Edward Beal route of using easily recognisable railway company designs with different boiler fittings! Freelancing was much more common in his day, but rarely if ever done well.

 

There are lots of real railways which, if you didn't know better, you'd think were freelance: the MSWJR, the M&MR, the Cambrian, the Furness, the H&BR etc (I don't count the M&GN and SDJR except in independent days).

 

 

Agree.  A good example, I suggest, that you could base a smallish freelance company is the eastern section of the Eastern & Midland (i.e. before the final merger into the M&GN in 1893, after which the Midland became responsible for supplying the motive power)  

 

You have the classic collection of second-hand locos, inherited constituent locos, home-grown rebuilds and some newly purchased modern designs from private builders.   This is the essence of the minor independent company, IMHO.

 

So, you have the weird and wonderful, including:

 

- ex-Cornwall Minerals Sharp Stewart 0-6-0Ts of 1873-4, purchased from the Great Western, but equipped with Sharp Stewart 4-wheel tenders

 

- the above locomotives rebuilt by the Eastern & Midland as tiny 2-4-0 tender engines

 

- Ex-Lancaster & Carlisle/LNWR Trevithick/Allan Crewe type 2-4-0s of 1857 

 

But you also have the beginnings of a standardised fleet of new-purchased modern types:

 

- New purchased by the constituent Lynn & Fakenham, Hudswell Clarke 4-4-0T passenger tanks - very much kept on after the Midland took over and, indeed, some swapped for Midland 0-4-4Ts 

 

- New purchased Beyer Peacock A Class 4-4-0s - again, very much retained into the Midland era

 

So, imagine an E&M-type line that did not evolve into a Somerset & Dorset-type joint line with Midland motive power.  Soon, instead of the Johnson 4-4-0s and 0-6-0s, there would have been a larger passenger standard class and an 0-6-0 standard goods type built by one of the private builders.   

 

Here, you have a very good prototype for the sort of freelance pre-Grouping company that would be huge fun to create.    

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Then on top of locos you can also decide the coaching and wagon stock styles - where did they come from, were they bought new/second hand etc.?

The station and infrastructure can not only have a distinctive colour scheme but style as well. You can incorporate local materials into the buildings.

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Interesting companies and railways. Mind you, I do like them all, really. They are nice companies.

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I wonder if the best solution might be to take a merger that happened in the 1850s or 1860s, say, and postulate that it didnt happen - or that it happened with different constituents?

 

Indeed,or earlier.

Having read the start of this thread on my phone, I spent the train journey back from Birmingham today postulating what would have happened if the Manchester & Birmingham had never made peace with the Grand Junction and London & Birmingham to form the LNWR?

 

The M&B had proposed a line through the potteries (taken up and built by the North Staffordshire Railway) to give direct access to London via running rights of the L&B.

These rights proved to hard and costly to negotiate so the M&B built its own lines into London and Birmingham ending a terminus to the west of Euston and another to the north of New street.

 

Once built, and with virtual monopoly on Manchester traffic, the M&B prospered and started looking for expansion opportunities.

It invested heavily in the Stockport, Disley and Whaley Bridge Railway which ultimately extended to Buxton and formed an end on junction with the Midland Railway.

The M&B were early investors into the line from Derby to Matlock (then called the Manchster, Buxton, Matlock and Midland Junction Railway, or the MBM&MJR (for short?).

In fact the LNWR only withdrew from the MBM&MJR once the line became the sole control of the Midland as it did not want to promote a competitors route.

This gave the M&B running rights into Derby.

 

Buoyed by this success another line was constructed from the Chapel-en-le-Frith to Sheffield cementing the M&B's position to dominate traffic into the Manchester area. (planned and rumored to have started to be built by the LNWR in a successful bluff to gain running right over the Great Central's Woodhead route).

 

Thus the core network was built supported by a plethora of branch and secondary lines feeding the mainlines.

 

But what of the rolling stock?

 

Well, the M&B initially bought in engines for the main builders but as it expanded looked to bring production in-house.

It was fortunate to have in its employ a young engineer by the name of John Ramsbottom. 

Ramsbottom wasted no time is setting about the task, initially sub-contract the build of his engines to Bayer Peacock in Gorton, whilst building the M&Bs new works at Longsight.

 

It was here he built his successful DX, Problem, Newton and Samson classes of locomotives along with some larger designs prior to his retirement in 1885.

 

 

So we now have a justifiable, large independent Railway company with recognizable routes.

Obviously the actual routes would vary slightly from those built along with a different house style (the M&B seemed to favour a solid, classical architectural style).

This should create believablity and credibility.

 

The engines would have the shape and lineage of a famous locomotive engineer but with a different design of domes, chimneys and fittings to make them distinctively different.

 

So what happened to the M&B?

Well, it continued in hard working prosperity until the 1921 grouping when it found itself amalgamated with the Midland, Great Central and Glasgow and South Western Railway to form the London, Glasgow and Central Railway (LGCR). 

The M&B's arch rival, as we all know was grouped with the Great Western and the Caledonian to form the London, Western and Caledonian Railway (LW&CR).

but of course that's far too modern for this sub-forum.

 

Finally what of the livery?

I do hope they kept the original M&B coach livery as applied to the exquisitely restored M&B Carriage at MoSI:-

 

 

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Edited by Argos
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If you are looking for suitable export locomotives, may I suggest a quick glance at the New South Wales Govt Railways - very much a Beyer Peacock line , down to the AD60 class Garretts in the 1950s.  Edwardian has posted a nice shot of the preserved Z17-class at Sydney Central, but also very much worth consideration would be Beyer Peacock's equivalent, the C79 or Z12 4-4-0s, with ancestry in the Metropolitan and District 4-4-0Ts - some of these were rebuilt as 4-4-2Ts

 

The M&SWJR actually bought a couple of 2-6-0s to a design originated for the NSWGR (Beyer Peacock , Dubs and Hunslet all had a go at 2-6-0s  for them - I think the M&SWJ may have gone to Beyer Peacock), and I believe the NSWGR  had a few 2-4-0Ts which were also supplied to the Isle of Wight Central

 

In terms of inventing a prototype - I think you would be aiming at a "minor mainline" company - the MSWJR, SAMJ, E&M/M&GN , S&DJR, or the LD&EC, perhaps even the H&BR, would be the sort of thing .

 

I can see a number of scenarios for generating one.

 

- You find a wild late Victorian proposal and assume it was actually built . The GC London Extension, the H&BR, the LD&ECR and Barry Railway actually happened: you look for something in the same vein from the 1870s-1890s (Manchester & Milford?)

- A lot of lines operated by the established pre-grouping companies were not actually owned by them - hence the 120 railway companies merged in 1923. A plausible scenario is that a smaller company which was actually operated under a working agreement decided to run its own trains, and spread its wings a little. A varient involves chaining a few local independent lines together  (Didcot , Newbury & Southampton as an independent railway??)

- You invent a new area of the country, like Craigshire, or Soder. Leonesse would almost certainly be an Associated Company of the GW, though, and this limits you to areas near the coast. I don't think there are any imaginary regions of Britain in fiction that would serve though (Hardy's Wessex is obviously the West Country, and Trollope is quite explicit that Barchester is served by a GW branch off the main line) 

- Or you assume that a key merger didn't take place - say the Stockton & Darlington  was not swallowed by the NER in 1863, but remained independent

 

Having in my time created a version of the Midlands in which Derbyshire (and Derby) don't exist ( which has interesting complications when the major company serving the town is the Midland)- and some imaginary North Sea islands to support a light railway, I suppose I'm prepared to be a little bolder in rearranging reality than most

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In, IIRC, the 1860's there was a proposal for a merger between the Caledonian, Glasgow and South Western and North British Railways.  This was agreed by all three at board level and by the shareholders of the CR and G&SWR, but was thrown out by the NBR shareholders.  How different would the railway map of Scotland have been if that had taken place?

 

I also understand that one of the early proposals for Grouping included the creation of a Scottish Group.

 

Jim

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This is a nice thread. I am currently focusing on the Pre-Grouping myself, really.

 

The South Western Railway - the railway that runs from London to Cornwall.

The Mid Western Railway - the railway that runs from Staffordshire to Gloucestershire.

The South British Railway - the railway that runs from Hampshire between Sussex and Somerset.

 

What do you think?

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The M&SWJR actually bought a couple of 2-6-0s to a design originated for the NSWGR (Beyer Peacock , Dubs and Hunslet all had a go at 2-6-0s  for them - I think the M&SWJ may have gone to Beyer Peacock), and I believe the NSWGR  had a few 2-4-0Ts which were also supplied to the Isle of Wight Central

 

 

 

 

 

The MSWJR moguls did indeed come from Beyer Peacock, along with three 2-4-0T similar to those sold to the Isle of Wight, the Dutch Rhenish and others. There would have been a couple more but they ran out of money. In the 1890s they moved from a Beyer peacock line to a Dübs/Sharp Stewart/NBL line, though not before they'd bought two batches of 0-6-0 goods engine and a solitary 0-4-4T.

 

I have often toyed with a scheme for a line that would have run from Abergavenny through Brecon (with running powers over B&M and N&B) to Llandovery (connections to LNW/GWR) before heading into the hills over to Llandewi Brefi and Tregaron, there joining the M&MR. A super deluxe version would involve a merger with the M&M – before the GWR got their sticky mitts on it – and completion of the Llangurig line. Even better would be a link-up with the Pembroke & Tenby thereby linking Pembroke Docks to the midlands via Hereford or Shrewsbury etc, and connections from the west midlands to Aberystwyth. Through carriages rather than through trains probably,. Topographically it would be do-able though the bit between Llandovery and Tregaron would involve gradients of around 2%.

 

Traffic? You want jam on it? A modicum of mineral traffic from the upper Towy valley, otherwise the usual meagre fare for rural secondaries...

Edited by wagonman
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Indeed,or earlier.

Having read the start of this thread on my phone, I spent the train journey back from Birmingham today postulating what would have happened if the Manchester & Birmingham had never made peace with the Grand Junction and London & Birmingham to form the LNWR?

 

The M&B had proposed a line through the potteries (taken up and built by the North Staffordshire Railway) to give direct access to London via running rights of the L&B.

These rights proved to hard and costly to negotiate so the M&B built its own lines into London and Birmingham ending a terminus to the west of Euston and another to the north of New street.

 

Once built, and with virtual monopoly on Manchester traffic, the M&B prospered and started looking for expansion opportunities.

It invested heavily in the Stockport, Disley and Whaley Bridge Railway which ultimately extended to Buxton and formed an end on junction with the Midland Railway.

The M&B were early investors into the line from Derby to Matlock (then called the Manchster, Buxton, Matlock and Midland Junction Railway, or the MBM&MJR (for short?).

In fact the LNWR only withdrew from the MBM&MJR once the line became the sole control of the Midland as it did not want to promote a competitors route.

This gave the M&B running rights into Derby.

 

Buoyed by this success another line was constructed from the Chapel-en-le-Frith to Sheffield cementing the M&B's position to dominate traffic into the Manchester area. (planned and rumored to have started to be built by the LNWR in a successful bluff to gain running right over the Great Central's Woodhead route).

 

Thus the core network was built supported by a plethora of branch and secondary lines feeding the mainlines.

 

But what of the rolling stock?

 

Well, the M&B initially bought in engines for the main builders but as it expanded looked to bring production in-house.

It was fortunate to have in its employ a young engineer by the name of John Ramsbottom. 

Ramsbottom wasted no time is setting about the task, initially sub-contract the build of his engines to Bayer Peacock in Gorton, whilst building the M&Bs new works at Longsight.

 

It was here he built his successful DX, Problem, Newton and Samson classes of locomotives along with some larger designs prior to his retirement in 1885.

 

 

So we now have a justifiable, large independent Railway company with recognizable routes.

Obviously the actual routes would vary slightly from those built along with a different house style (the M&B seemed to favour a solid, classical architectural style).

This should create believablity and credibility.

 

The engines would have the shape and lineage of a famous locomotive engineer but with a different design of domes, chimneys and fittings to make them distinctively different.

 

So what happened to the M&B?

Well, it continued in hard working prosperity until the 1921 grouping when it found itself amalgamated with the Midland, Great Central and Glasgow and South Western Railway to form the London, Glasgow and Central Railway (LGCR). 

The M&B's arch rival, as we all know was grouped with the Great Western and the Caledonian to form the London, Western and Caledonian Railway (LW&CR).

but of course that's far too modern for this sub-forum.

 

Finally what of the livery?

I do hope they kept the original M&B coach livery as applied to the exquisitely restored M&B Carriage at MoSI:-

 

 

attachicon.gifM and B carriage at MoSI.jpg

 

I think this is exactly how you set about creating a sizeable freelance company - much can be done by simply imagining the mid-Victorian amalgamations in different combinations.

 

 

This is a nice thread. I am currently focusing on the Pre-Grouping myself, really.

 

The South Western Railway - the railway that runs from London to Cornwall.

The Mid Western Railway - the railway that runs from Staffordshire to Gloucestershire.

The South British Railway - the railway that runs from Hampshire between Sussex and Somerset.

 

What do you think?

 

The Guy Ritchie Sherlock Homes flicks featured the South England Railway.

 

Ostensibly set in 1890, the second film featured a train to Brighton hauled, IIRC, by a sort of B4esque loco and comprising some fine corridor clerestories of which neither the Brighton nor the South Eastern would have seen the like!

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