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8J miles per hour. The lightest load and the highest speed were for
passenger trains, the medium load for goods trains, and the heaviest
load for mineral traffic.

The American engines having worked with great success upon the
Lickey incline for a few weeks, Mr. Edward Bury, of Wolverton, wrote
to the directors " to declare that whatever American engines could do
his could do," and sent the London and Birmingham Company's engine
named " Bury " to prove his assertion.

Mr. Bury, himself driving, started from Bromsgrove and humorously
called to Mr. Gwynn, who had come from Philadelphia with the
American engines, to join him. " No," he replied, " it's no use ; you'll
soon come back again"; and back again Mr. Bury and his engine came,
having stuck before getting half-way up the incline.


The first portion of this railway from Cheltenham to Bromsgrove
was opened on June 24th, 1840. A correspondent of the Cheltenham
Chronicle thus describes a trip on that day :

"At 10 minutes past 9 a.m., the passengers having taken their seats,
the signal for starting was given. A bugler played " God save the
Queen"; the train moved gently on till the tune was concluded and
then started off in gallant style, quickly receding from the astonished
gaze of the persons assembled. The engine, which was a very excel-
lent one, soon showed its capabilities, and though an alteration from
one line to another and a consequent slackening of the velocity was
necessary, long before we arrived at Swindon it was in full speed [there
is a village called Swindon near Cheltenham]. The pace was excellent,
being at least 30 miles an hour. They took in water at Spetchley at
10.12. This was one of the finest stations on the line, from which
coaches ran to Worcester. The train reached Bromsgrove at 10.50;
it returned 5 minutes later with an engine of Philadelphian manufac-
ture, and got back to Lansdown, Cheltenham, at 12.27."

At first only two trains in each direction ran daily between Chelten-
ham and Bromsgrove, and there was no communication on Sundays.
The intermediate piece of line, namely, from Bromsgrove to Birming-
ham, not being completed, passengers were conveyed to and from these
places by road coaches, which were provided for a limited number of
through passengers.

The line was further extended from Bromsgrove to Cofton Farm,
about eight miles from Birmingham, which further reduced the coaching,
this latter portion being opened on September iyth.

Three months later the line was opened (December iyth) from Camp
Hill Station, Birmingham, through to Gloucester. The " trains stopping
at first-class stations " performed the total distance in two hours and a

The extension from Camp Hill to the junction of the London and
Birmingham Railway was not completed and opened until August lyth,
1841. at which time the passenger trains of the Birmingham and
Gloucester Company entered the Curzon Street Station in accordance
with the running powers granted by the Act, but the goods traffic was
dealt with at the Camp Hill goods depot and at the " Exchange "

A further order for eight more American engines was given. Shortly
afterwards, in consequence of the taunts which appeared in an American
newspaper, that " the English could make inclines but had to come
to America for engines to work them," Mr. J. E. McConnell (the
Company's Locomotive Superintendent) obtained the authority of
the directors to build at their Bromsgrove works a very powerful


tank engine, which, when completed in 1845, proved that what an
American engine could do an English-built engine could also accom-

As the railway between Cheltenham and Gloucester was intended to
be used by both the Cheltenham and Great Western Union and the
Birmingham and Gloucester Companies, according to modern practice
this section would have been vested in and managed jointly by a com-
mittee of the two companies. However, another course was followed.
The two Acts which both companies obtained in the year 1836 pro-
vided that the Cheltenham and Great Western Union was to own the
northern half of the line between Cheltenham, Lansdown Junction, and
Churchdown, and to appoint the Birmingham and Gloucester Company
trustees of this northern half of the line. The Birmingham and Glou-
cester Company, on the other hand, whilst owning the southern half
between Churchdown and Gloucester, appointed the Cheltenham and
Great Western Union Company their trustees for this part of the line ;
so that while each company owned one half of the line they modified
their ownership by appointing the other company trustees, thus making
it impossible for either company to " block the other out."

The arrangement is an unusual one, but undoubtedly it must have
given satisfaction, as it still remains in force between the Great Western
and Midland Companies to the present day, the trains of both com-
panies using the line between Cheltenham and Gloucester without
paying rent or toll.

The portion of line between Cheltenham and Gloucester being for
the joint use of two companies using different gauges, was laid with the
mixed gauge so as to be available for the trains of both companies.
This was accomplished by laying three rails for each track, one extra
rail being added to the narrow gauge for the broad-gauge traffic. This
was the first and only instance up to this period of the use of mixed
gauges. When the broad gauge was abolished the extra or third rail
was removed.

In 1837 the Birmingham and Gloucester Company obtained an Act
to extend its railway by a branch from Ashchurch to Tewkesbury,
which was subsequently constructed, and in 1845 further powers to
make " extension lines " at Gloucester, a branch at Stoke Prior, and an
extension line from St. Andrew's Junction, near Camp Hill, Birmingham,
to join the Midland line at Saltley. The object of the last-named
branch was to avoid the inconvenience of the lift at Lawley Street
Station, which lift for the transfer of traffic was thus replaced by a
branch line known as the Aston curve.

The Bristol and Gloucestershire Railway Company obtained power


under an Act of 1828 to make a railway or tramroad from Bristol
to Coal-pit Heath, in the parish of Westerleigh, in the county of

The very name, Coal-pit Heath, suggests the object of the line,
which was to convey coal from the collieries near Westerleigh to the
city of Bristol, and, like the railways of the north, it had a gauge of
5 feet to the outside edge of the rails.

The Great Western Railway Company was determined to extend its
broad gauge to the north, and had no intention of remaining in the
west. For this purpose it favoured the formation of the Cheltenham
and Great Western Union Company to commence by a junction at
Swindon, running thence to Standish and Gloucester; and by pur^
chasing half the Cheltenham and Gloucester tramway, which it will
be remembered the Birmingham and Gloucester Company required,
continued the broad gauge to an independent station at Chel-

The Great Western Company also obtained a controlling interest
in the Bristol and Gloucestershire Company, already mentioned ; and
under an Act passed on July ist, 1839, the name was changed to "The
Bristol and Gloucester Railway," the gauge was changed from narrow
to seven feet, and an extension was constructed from Westerleigh
Junction to Standish Junction, about seven miles south of Gloucester,
from whence its trains had running powers over the Cheltenham and
Great Western Union to Gloucester. At Bristol a line was made to
connect the old Coal-pit Heath line at Lawrence Hill with the Great
Western at Temple Mead, and that Company obtained powers to run
from Bristol to Standish. Thus it will be observed the broad gauge
was firmly planted at Gloucester by means of two lines one from
Swindon, the other from Bristol.

The Bristol and Gloucester Railway was formally opened through-
out on July 6th, 1844, by the directors, who were accompanied by
those of the Birmingham and Gloucester and Bristol and Exeter

The train was to have left Bristol at 10 a.m., but did not start till
twelve o'clock noon. When within half a mile of Gloucester the
engine got off the line, on the outside of a sharp curve, owing to
one of the strap-bolts of a transom being insufficiently secured and
permitting the gauge to widen. No alarm, however, was excited, as
the engine was going slowly at the time, followed by another engine,
which was not at work. The passengers got out and walked to the
carriage-shed of the Birmingham and Gloucester Company, which had
been neatly and commodiously fitted up with tables, evergreens, flags,


ii i

orchestra, etc., for the accommodation of the company. The carriages
were twelve in number, and contained nearly five hundred and fifty
ladies and gentlemen, most of whom partook of the entertainment.
The health of Brunei, the great broad-gauge engineer, was drunk ; but
he was not present, being busy getting the derailed train on the metals
again. The party returned to Bristol about 8 p.m.

Public traffic commenced on Monday, July 8th, when arrangements
were made for six trains in each direction daily, and half the stage
coaches immediately ceased running.

Some years before this line was opened the public and the traders


saw that the break of gauge at Gloucester would be a very serious
evil, and that there would be delays to passengers by having to change
trains, and that goods, coal, timber, etc., would all have to be transferred
to other wagons. These fears were at once realised when the two
systems were brought into contact at Gloucester, and at length the
delays became so serious and the question of gauge so pressing that
the Government, regarding it as a question of national importance, ap-
pointed a Royal Commission to inquire into the subject on July nth,
1845. After hearing a great deal of evidence, beginning with Robert
Stephenson on August 6th, 1845, the Commission eventually, in 1846,
reported in favour of the narrow, or 4 feet 8J-inch gauge, and against
the broad, or y-feet gauge. This was the death-blow to the broad
gauge, which has now entirely disappeared from this country.


A considerable number of Bristol and Gloucester shares had changed
hands, and it soon became evident that the Great Western no longer
held " the controlling interest," and many of the new shareholders
expressed regret that their line was not narrow gauge. They also
formed the opinion that the Birmingham and Gloucester and the
Bristol and Gloucester Companies should amalgamate. Negotiations
proceeded so far that the two companies decided to unite under
the name of the Bristol and Birmingham Railway Company, and
a Bill was prepared and read in Parliament a second time to carry
that into effect; and from March, 1845, pending the passing of the
measure, they were "working together as an amalgamated company."
The management was controlled by a joint board or committee of
directors, and it was decided that a change should be made in the
gauge of one railway so that through trains could be run between
Bristol and Birmingham without break of gauge. This was a question
of vital importance, as either the Great Western and the broad gauge
must be brought into the Midland district to Birmingham, or the
narrow gauge must be carried into the Great Western country to

Between these two great rival interests the Bristol and Birmingham
Companies found themselves the centre of attraction.

First came a suggestion from one company and then from the other.
The Bristol and Birmingham Board opened negotiations with both, and
the rivalry continued. Mr. Saunders, on behalf of the Great Western,
made his final offer, which was to give the shareholders ordinary Great
Western shares, which would, according to the dividends then being
paid by the Great Western, bring in 6 per cent.

Immediately afterwards Mr. John Ellis had an interview to place
before the joint board of directors his final offer on behalf of the
Midland. It "went one better," and was to consolidate the Bristol
and Gloucester and Birmingham and Gloucester Companies with the
Midland, the shareholders of the two previously mentioned companies
to receive a guaranteed 6 per cent, upon their capital, by the creation
of Midland Railway 6 per cent, shares in lieu of their own shares.

This offer of a fixed return instead of an uncertain one was accepted,
and Mr. John Ellis carried off the prize, which extended the Midland
system to Bristol.

This arrangement received parliamentary sanction by an Act passed
on August 3rd, 1846, vesting the properties of the Bristol and Gloucester
and Birmingham and Gloucester Railway Companies in the Midland
Company. The Midland was required to raise a capital of ,1,799,902
15*. by the issue of 6 per cent, preference shares, which were to be


given to the Bristol and Gloucester and Birmingham and Gloucester
shareholders in lieu of their shares in those companies which were by
the Act dissolved.

The Birmingham and Gloucester purchase gave to the Midland
Company the right of running powers into the Curzon Street Station,
Birmingham, which was the property of the newly formed London and
North Western Railway Company. It also added about 54 miles
to the Midland system, of which 33 miles were laid upon longitudinal
timbers, 3 J miles on iron sleepers, and the remainder upon the ordinary
cross sleepers. The locomotives were thirty-seven in number, the most
powerful of which was Mr. McConnell's celebrated tank engine for
the Lickey incline, having six coupled wheels of 3 feet 10 inches
diameter, cylinders 18 inches diameter, a stroke of 26 inches, and
a weight of 30 tons. By the Bristol and Gloucester purchase the
Midland became possessed of 30 miles of broad y-feet gauge railway
laid on longitudinal timbers, commencing at the junction with the



Great Western at Bristol and terminating at Standish Junction, near
Stonehouse. It also conferred powers to run into the Temple Mead
Station at Bristol and also to run over the Cheltenham and Great
Western Union from Standish to Gloucester.

The total stock, consisting of eleven broad-gauge engines, twenty
carriages, and eighty-two other vehicles, also became the property of
the Midland.

It would have been far more convenient to the public if the gauge
could have been at once changed to " narrow," but this was impossible,
as the working of the locomotive department had previously been
let by contract to Messrs. Stothard and Slaughter, of Bristol, for a term
of years. The Act of August 3rd, 1 846, further required the Midland
Company "at all times hereafter to maintain" on the line from Bristol
to Standish Junction " two lines of railway on the same gauge as
the Great Western Railway," and to permit the Great Western broad-
gauge trains to pass " at all reasonable and proper times " ; and further,
the Cheltenham and Great Western from Standish to Gloucester was


broad gauge only. In 1848 the Midland obtained power to make
a new narrow-gauge railway from Gloucester to Standish, seven miles,
and to lay down a third rail thence to Bristol, thus completing the
narrow gauge to Temple Mead Station, Bristol, the narrow gauge
being opened May 29th, 1854. Six years before the alteration was
completed it became necessary to have four new broad-gauge engines,
and Messrs. Sharp Brothers, of Manchester, were instructed by
Mr. Matthew Kirtley to build four engines, Nos. 66, 67, 68, 69,
" convertible " ; they were, in fact, narrow-gauge locomotives, having
very long axles, and the wheels were placed quite outside the axle-
boxes. The cylinders were 16 x 20, driving-wheels 6 feet 6 inches.
These engines commenced to work on the broad gauge 1848-9,
but as soon as the narrow gauge was completed the wheels and axles
were taken out, sent to Derby to be shortened, and replaced with
the wheels between the double frames in the ordinary way. These
were the first "convertible" engines ever built, and the change to
narrow gauge was accomplished with very little trouble or expense.

The London and Birmingham and Grand Junction Companies,
which on July 1 6th, 1846, had become the London and North Western,
now decided to construct a large central station at New Street,
Birmingham, and to close their Curzon Street Station for passenger
traffic. The Midland, who had absorbed the Birmingham and
Gloucester Company, took advantage of that Company's rights as
set forth in Clause 21 of the original Act granted to the Birmingham
and Gloucester Company on April 22nd, 1836, whereby the Birming-
ham and Gloucester Company had power to run into the Curzon
Street Station, " or any future termination at or near Birmingham "
of the London and Birmingham Railway. New Street being such
a " new termination," the Midland had the right to exercise running
powers ; and in consideration of the service rendered by the Midland
in obtaining the Birmingham and Bristol and keeping the Great
Western " down in the west," it was now arranged by the London
and North Western (as successors of the London and Birmingham)
for the Midland to use the -New Street Station, Birmingham, upon
paying for porters and an acknowledgment of ;ioo a year. In order
to more completely carry out the arrangement, the Midland, on
July 27th, 1846, obtained an Act to make the "extension curve" a
mile in length to connect Saltley on the old Birmingham and Derby
Company's system with the London and North Western Railway at
*' Derby Junction," near New Street. Another connecting link about
a mile in length was constructed from Saltley to St. Andrew's Junction,
thus making a direct communication with the Birmingham and Bristol


lines. These various links and the mixed gauge enabled through
trains to be run from Leeds to Bristol.

Generally speaking, it will be found that the various main lines in this
country either start from London or are in connection with other
railways which do. The Midland Company's west main line from
Derby to Birmingham and Bristol is quite an exception to this rule,
as it forms the great through route between the north and north-
east of England and Bristol and all parts of the west, the formation
of which has been of great advantage both to the public and the


10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130




BRADFORD, the important seat of the woollen industry and the
greatest wool centre in the world, had up to the year 1846
remained completely isolated and unconnected with the dominant
factor in modern commerce. It had no railway communication of
any kind whatever, its industries were crippled, and its trade, if not
its existence as a great commercial centre, was seriously threatened.

Originally, when George Stephenson surveyed the North Midland
line from Derby to Leeds, the people of Bradford saw the necessity
of having a line from Leeds forward to Bradford, and the leading
traders pressed that view on the directors of the North Midland
Company ; but the Company considered that their seventy miles of
line from Derby to Leeds was quite sufficient for them to undertake at
that time (1836). George Stephenson, who was engineer to the North
Midland, advised the representatives of the Bradford trade that although
his Derby to Leeds line could not be extended forward, they ought to
form a company of their own to continue the through communication ;
and he further stated that he was willing to be engineer to such a
scheme as he had suggested. But the Bradford people then failed
to find a body of men with sufficient courage or foresight to grasp
the situation and undertake the financial responsibilities. The result
was that Leeds obtained through communication to London long
before its rival in the West Riding, and Bradford was left without
the coveted line till a later period.

At the time of the amalgamation in 1844 the people of Bradford
saw another opportunity of pressing their claims, and they urged the
directors of the newly formed Midland to make the extension from
Leeds to Bradford. The Midland, however, considered that it had
"quite sufficient irons in the fire," with the Nottingham and Lincoln
and Syston and Peterborough extensions, and could not then entertain
the suggestion made by the leading citizens of Bradford.



Mr. Murgatroyd, Mr. John Rand, and others interested in the trade
of Bradford saw that they were placed at a serious disadvantage, and
determined to form a company of their own. They therefore secured
the services of Mr. George Hudson, M.P., as Chairman, and Mr. George
Stephenson as Engineer ; and the Leeds and Bradford Company's
Act received the Royal Assent on July 4th, 1844. The railway was
to commence at the Wellington Station, Leeds, thence running past
Holbeck and Shipley to Bradford, and there was also a short con-
necting line outside Leeds to join the Midland Railway with the Leeds
and Bradford, thus enabling Midland trains to run into the Wellington
Station, Leeds.

It was a sound stroke of policy to thus carry out the original
suggestion of George Stephenson, and with Hudson, the Midland
Chairman, at the head of the movement, and Stephenson, the Midland
Engineer, to carry out the line, it gave it a very close association from
the first with the Midland Company. The Midland Company also
secured a great advantage, in that whereas the Midland trains had
previously to stop at Hunslet Lane Station, which was on the outskirts
of Leeds, in an unsuitable district, the Wellington Station, which was
constructed by the newly formed Bradford Company, provided the
Midland with a splendid terminus in the centre of Leeds, to which the
Midland trains began to run on July ist, 1846. The line was duly
constructed, and opened with more than usual ceremony as was
certainly due as marking the connection of two great commercial

There was a "contractors' opening" of this line on May 30th, 1846.
The contractors, having completed their works within the time allowed,
invited the directors of the Company and a party of friends to
accompany them on a trip to Bradford and back. The train left
Leeds shortly before one o'clock, and was composed of about a dozen
open-topped third-class coaches, except one vehicle reserved for ladies.
Two local bands attended and played in the train, as well as at Leeds
Station and at the White Horse Inn, Boar Lane, on getting back.
The engine (the " Linsay ") was decorated with flowers, and on it were
two flags, one inscribed, "Who'd have thought it?" and the other,
"See the conquering hero comes !" The train was under the guidance
of Mr. Fell- Young, resident engineer of the line. Surprise was ex-
pressed at the Bradford people not cheering the train, which was
attributed to the severe distress in the town damping their spirits. An
engine called " Stephenson " brought the train back, stopping a quarter
of an hour to enable the passengers to inspect Apperley Viaduct. At
Kirkstall Forge seven small cannon were fired on each passing of the


train. The dripping of water from the roof of Thackley Tunnel was
most unpleasant in the open carriages. A shorter train, conveying the
workmen, was also run, drawn by the engine " Malton." Mr. George
Goodman, of Leeds, a director, presided at the dinner at the "White
Horse," Leeds, soon after 6 p.m. The contractors were Messrs.
Crawshaw, Leeds to Kirkstall ; Messrs. Tredwell, Kirkstall to Thackley
Tunnel; Messrs. Nowell and Hattersley, the tunnel itself; and Mr.
James Bray, from the tunnel to Bradford.

The formal opening took place on June 3oth, a general holiday being
held at Bradford, but the weather was unfavourable. A train of about
fifteen coaches from the Midland, York and North Midland, and other
lines left Leeds at 1.14 p.m., and another soon after, containing
Mr. George Hudson, the Board of the Leeds and Bradford Company,
the Lord Mayor of York, and the Mayor of Leeds. There was a
collation in a tastefully decorated pavilion facing Bradford Station.
In the afternoon there was a great dinner in the Music Hall at Leeds,

Online LibraryClement Edwin StrettonThe history of the Midland railway → online text (page 10 of 36)