Clement Edwin Stretton.

The history of the Midland railway online

. (page 13 of 36)
Online LibraryClement Edwin StrettonThe history of the Midland railway → online text (page 13 of 36)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

North Midland and the Manchester and Leeds terminated. The
North Midland had become Midland, while the Manchester and
Leeds and the Wakefield, Pontefract, and Goole had amalgamated
and become the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company. The
latter line had a junction with the Great Northern at Askern, and
had become a powerful ally of the Great Northern. So strong was
the friendship between the Lancashire and Yorkshire and the Great
Northern that the first-named Company tried to assist its new-found
friend to run over the Midland line from Methley to Leeds by the
following strategy.

A short time before the Doncaster Races, which took place in
September, 1849, the Lancashire and Yorkshire Company, as usual,
compiled a list of special trains which it proposed to work over the
Midland rails from Leeds to Methley en route to Doncaster. It was
quite understood that some of the carriages forming some of the trains
would be lent by the Great Northern Company to the Lancashire and
Yorkshire, and worked down to Leeds as empty carriage trains the
previous day, it being presumed that the trains would be worked by
Lancashire and Yorkshire engines and officials, as no other company
had running powers over the line.

To the great surprise of the Midland Company, however, when the
Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's notice was issued to their servants
it was found that some of the trains booked to run over the Midland
Railway from Leeds to Methley had as a footnote these words : "This
train will be worked by the Great Northern Company." It was also


discovered that for several days Great Northern drivers had been
travelling on the Lancashire and Yorkshire engines to learn the road
to Leeds.

The Midland Company at once communicated with the Lancashire
and Yorkshire Company, protesting against the Great Northern working
the trains on the ground that they had no running powers. The reply
was that the Lancashire and Yorkshire had, and that they could by this
means let the Great Northern into Leeds. The Midland altogether
repudiated any such contention, and then the Lancashire and Yorkshire
fell back upon the excuse that they were short of engines, and had hired
a few from the Great Northern.

The Midland, however, declared that they would not have engines
and men of a company which had no running powers on their lines.
The Lancashire and Yorkshire argument then was that a hired engine
was to all intents and purposes their property, and that they would send
the trains to Leeds as booked.

The Midland answer to this was that the junction would be pulled
up ; and when news was received that the empty Great Northern trains
had actually left Doncaster on their way to Leeds, a gang of Midland
platelayers at once set to work and removed the rails, thus preventing
the passage of the trains on to the Midland at Methley.

On the approach of the trains all the usual signals were given and
the trains brought to a stand. Finding progress in that direction
impossible, the Great Northern train was run back to Pontefract,
thence to Wakefield, and back to the Goose Hill Junction, Normanton,
where another junction with the Midland Railway existed. This was
just as much Midland, and the legal rights of the matter were just
as strong at one point as at the other ; but the Midland, having made
their protest and not wishing to inconvenience the public, allowed
the "hired" Great Northern engine to proceed to Leeds, leaving
the question of right to be afterwards legally determined.

But although this was a highly technical point and one of great
interest and importance in railway law, a legal decision was never
taken ; for the Great Northern and Lancashire and Yorkshire Com-
panies at once took up this position, that if they could not use the
Midland line they would have one of their own, so as to get to
Leeds without using the Midland line from Methley. They further
proposed other extensions from their intended line.

Under these circumstances the Midland had to choose the least
of two evils, namely, to allow the Great Northern to run over their
lines from Methley to Leeds and stop there, or allow the Great
Northern to construct a line which might afterwards be greatly


extended in unknown directions. The result was that the Midland
determined to concede running powers to the Great Northern, the
Lancashire and Yorkshire, and to the York and North Midland
railways into their Wellington Station at Leeds. This was confirmed
by the shareholders of the Midland at their meeting on August 23rd,

At the meeting previous to the one at which the above memorable
dispute was ended, namely, that held at Derby on February 27th, 1850,
the shareholders had to face the fact that the receipts for the past
half-year were only ^"600,000, or a decrease of ^20,000, and that the
dividend for the half-year upon the ordinary shares was only i $s.

Mr. Wylie addressed the meeting for a period of about two hours,
and stated that he represented 1,200 shareholders in the Liverpool
district, who held shares to the amount of ; 1,623,000.

He objected to the guarantees and leases and especially to the
Leeds and Bradford lease, and finally moved a resolution to " re-
construct the Board " ; in other words, to find room for the members
of the " Liverpool party." However, after full discussion the resolution
was rejected, and the shareholders returned to their homes after a
sitting of no less than six hours.

At the half-yearly meeting held on August 23rd, 1850, the dividend
upon the ordinary shares fell to only i6s. for the half-year, and the
shares which but a few years previously were at ;i6o were now
actually to be bought for $2.

The extension curve between Saltley and the London and North
Western Railway at Birmingham, in place of the " lift " at Saltley, was
completed in the autumn of 1850. The Erewash Valley and Mans-
field lines were in use, as were also the two junctions at Stoke Prior
and Abbotswood, to enable the Midland trains to run over the Oxford,
Worcester, and Wolverhampton Railway via Worcester. It is worthy
of note that every portion of the line which the Company proposed
to make at that time was completed and opened for traffic, the total
being about 500 miles. This fact, together with the coal traffic from
the Erewash Valley and Leicestershire, increased the goods and
mineral receipts by ^32,000 during the second half of the year

1850, but the Great Northern competition caused a further falling
off of ;8,ooo in passenger traffic, and the dividend paid in February,

1851, was 255-., being a considerable improvement upon the i6s. paid
on the previous occasion.

The Leeds and Bradford lease, which had previously proved such
a bone of contention, on two further occasions came up for discussion.
A Liverpool shareholder, who brought forward the question on


August 23rd, 1850, boldly moved a resolution with a view to its
entire repudiation. The reason for advocating this unusual and very
extraordinary course was this, that while the Leeds and Bradford
shareholders were getting their guaranteed dividend of 10 per cent,
per annum, according to the lease, without any risk whatever, the
Midland ordinary shareholders were having to face the increased
competition of the Great Northern, with the result that the dividend
on ordinary stock for 1850 was only 2 is. per cent. The ordinary
shareholders failed to see why the Leeds and Bradford shareholders
should be placed in such a highly favoured position. The Chairman,
however, warned the proprietors against interfering with an engage-
ment which they had previously sanctioned, even although it was
at a time when they were all too sanguine as to the value of
railway property. He read a letter from Lord Lifford, in which
he said that "any attempt to disturb the lease would put an end to
confidence in railway property and damage the characters of those
who did it as honourable mercantile men " a view which was
confirmed by the shareholders.

The Leeds and Bradford Railway for the last time received the
attention of the shareholders at a special meeting held on June 4th,
1851, when a Bill which had passed the House of Commons required
approval in order to enable the estate and interest of that Company
to become the property of the Midland. The Chairman pointed out
the great importance of the line, and trusted the opposition would
be withdrawn. Mr. Brancker, of Liverpool, expressed the opinion
which he had consistently held, that " the scheme was a preposterous
undertaking, concocted in iniquity." However, at the wish of
Mr. Ellis, he did not continue to oppose the motion, and as
Mr. Wylie considered the Bill was the best way out of the whole
difficulty, the resolution to acquire the line was carried unanimously,
and it is no secret that all parties were heartily glad to see this old
Leeds and Bradford question finally set at rest by the Act of 1851.

The Great Exhibition of 1851, which at one time was expected to be
a source of greatly increased revenue to the Midland as well as to
other companies, proved a serious disappointment, for so far from
yielding an increased return, it entailed a loss of revenue to the
Midland of between ^400 and .550 per week whilst the Exhibition
was open. There was, it is true, a very heavy traffic from the north
to Rugby en route to London, but the great number of passengers
to London disturbed the passenger traffic on the other portions of
the line ; and other centres of interest and attraction, such as Matlock,
Scarborough, and Cheltenham, were quite neglected. Moreover, as the


Great Northern fare from Leeds to London was fixed at only 5^.,
there was but a small profit to be obtained from the Exhibition

In the following year (1852) the directors became firmly convinced
that it was of vast importance to the prosperity of the Midland system
that the Company should establish more or less direct connections
with London, and negotiations were entered upon with representatives
of the London and North Western Railway Company with a view to
amalgamation. So essential was it considered that the Midland should
be permanently identified with a line having a terminus in London that
the amalgamation scheme was all but completed. The Midland terms
were finally 60 in proportion to the London and North Western
shares of ;ioo, and the dividend to be pro rata on these amounts.
The London and North Western would not agree to these terms, and
offered amalgamation on the basis of ,57 icxr. per share, and on this
difference of 505-. per share between the parties the negotiations were
broken off. But meanwhile the Midland Company had established
other arrangements, which enabled them to deal with their growing
London traffic until the time was ripe for another forward movement.



THIS Company, which, to avoid confusion with the great Company
known as the London and North Western was usually termed
the " Little " North Western, was formed by . an Act passed on
July 3oth, 1846, and its object was to construct a line commencing
at a junction with the Leeds and Bradford Railway extension at Skip-
ton, and passing through Settle extend to the coast at Morecambe,
with a branch from Clapham to Ingleton, to join an intended com-
munication with the Lancaster and Carlisle Company's system at
Low Gill for north traffic ; and a short curve at Lancaster Green Ayre
to join the same Company's system at Lancaster Castle Station for
south traffic.

The line was opened at various dates and in six sections, the first
section being that extending from Lancaster Green Ayre to Poulton
Station and harbour, now known as Morecambe. This was opened
for traffic on Whit-Monday, June i2th, 1848, with a train service hourly
in each direction from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m., and less frequently at other
hours. At that time the Morecambe Station was a purely temporary
structure, pending the completion of the permanent buildings and
the erection of the North Western Hotel, which in 1871 had its
name changed to the " Midland Hotel " on the Midland acquiring the
undertaking. Mr. Pudsey Dawson was the first Chairman of the
North Western Company, and two Midland directors were on the
original Board, namely, Mr. Murgatroyd and Mr. Waddingham. The
local time-tables issued at the time were headed " North Western
Railway, Morecambe Branch," and in them notice was given that
passengers holding return tickets issued by the third-class trains might
return by any train during the day. This seems to imply that third-
class return tickets were issued, probably a rare thing at that



The various sections of the line were opened as follows :

Morecambe to Lancaster Green Ayre . . June I2th, 1848.
Skipton, Clapham Junction, and Clapham- Ingle-
ton Branch . . ... July 3oth, 1849.
Lancaster Green Ayre to Wennington . . Nov. 1 7th, 1849.
Lancaster Green Ayre to Lancaster Castle . Dec. 1849.
Wennington to Bentham . ... May 2nd, 1850.
Bentham to Clapham Junction . . . June ist, 1850.

The opening of the completed line, forty-seven miles in length, took
place on June ist, 1850, when through trains from Leeds, Bradford,
and Skipton ran to Morecambe. The trains included portions for
Kendal, which were detached at Lancaster Green Ayre and conveyed
to the Castle Station; from thence they were taken forward by the
Lancaster and Carlisle Company, and the road coach, which had run
from Ingleton to Milnthorpe on the opening of the Ingleton section,
was, of course, discontinued, as was also a conveyance which had run
between Bentham and Clapham Junction previous to the opening of
that section.

Thenceforward from this period the Midland Company obtained
communication by means of the " leased " Leeds and Bradford line
to Skipton, and by the North Western line from Skipton to Lancaster,
Castle Station, and thence by the Lancaster and Carlisle Company's
Railway, to Scotland by an alternative route, and were no longer
dependent upon the York and North Midland, the York, Newcastle
and Berwick, and North British Railways for their communication and
for Scotch traffic.

The Midland, who had great interest in, and was always on the
most friendly terms with the North Western, and being anxious to
secure more or less permanent provision for its .traffic to and from that
district, in May, 1852, undertook for twenty-one years the working of
the " Little " North Western.

This working agreement would not have expired till 1873, but as
early as 1857, under parliamentary powers, both companies resolved
that the line be leased to the Midland Company in perpetuity as from
January ist, 1859, on payment "equal to an annual net dividend on
the ordinary capital at rates ranging from i per cent, in 1859 to
3! per cent, (the maximum rate) in 1864, with such additional
dividend (if any) as one-half the excess net earnings of the North
Western undertaking will pay beyond such 3! per cent."

On July nth, 1864, a further change was made in the shares of
the North Western Company, which received parliamentary sanction,
whereby the 20 shares, representing a total capital of ;7 8 5>5 6o >



were divided into one share of 12 each (total capital .471,336)
and another of 8 (total capital 314,224), the former or 12
shares bearing a fixed perpetual preferential dividend of 5 per cent.,
and the latter or 8 shares taking ij per cent., which would absorb
the whole of the residue of the rent, plus "any contingent
advantage that may arise out of the lease to the Midland." This
lasted for six years, namely, till August, 1870, when a new arrange-
ment was agreed to with the Midland, whereby the Midland guaranteed
a graduated dividend till 1874, and afterwards at 5 per cent, in per-
petuity ; and this receiving the sanction of Parliament, the Midland


were able to obtain the absolute conveyance of the North Western
to them on January ist, 1871, or two years before the original arrange-
ment would have expired.

Thus the Midland obtained entire possession and control of an
invaluable outlet to the north-west, as well as securing a base for
their extension from Settle to Carlisle, and from Wennington to the
Lake District. Further than this, by arrangement with the Lancashire
and Yorkshire Company, Hellifield became the point of junction
between the Midland through traffic from Manchester and Liverpool
to Scotland.

More recently it lent itself to the great development now in progress
by the construction of Heysham Harbour, which will add immensely


to the utility and value of this section of the Midland, for it is
intended that Heysham Harbour will be an important port for
passenger and goods traffic between the Midland system, the Isle of
Man, and the north of Ireland.

With a view to connecting the Furness Railway Company's system
with the Midland, so as to give through communication via Barrow-
in-Furness to the Lake District, the Isle of Man, and the north of
Ireland, the Furness and Midland Companies were authorised, by an
Act of June 22nd, 1863, to construct a joint line 9^ miles in length,
extending from Wennington to Carnforth. The capital was ^1 50,000,
with ;5> 000 borrowing powers, and it was provided in equal shares
by both companies. This little connecting link has proved an in-
valuable one for the Midland Company, both as regards its mineral
traffic and the influx of passengers which sets in during the summer
season to the Lake District and the Isle of Man.

Another phase of the delicate relationships between various com-
panies as to what may or may not be done under what is known
as running powers arose at Nottingham, and in view of the circum-
stance that these early cases have exercised an important influence
on all subsequent decisions in railway law the details become

A railway company having the long title of the Ambergate, Notting-
ham and Boston, and Eastern Junction Railway had obtained powers
for the construction of a line extending from Ambergate to Notting-
ham, thence to Grantham, Boston, and Spalding : but only the portion
between Nottingham and Grantham was constructed, and at the last-
named town it was connected with the Great Northern main line,
while at the Nottingham end the Midland gave the little Company
running powers for its trains into the Midland station. Shortly after
the opening, arrangements were concluded between the Ambergate
and Great Northern companies, by virtue of which the Great Northern
claimed a right to work its own engines and trains into the Midland
station at Nottingham. This contention was resisted by the Midland
on the ground that concessions made by the Midland could not be
transferred to another company without their authority or sanction,
and an injunction was obtained. The Great Northern Railway Com-
pany, however, in spite of these legal disabilities, attempted to exercise
running powers, and did on one occasion (August ist, 1852) run one of
its engines and trains into the Midland station. But it was discovered
that it was much easier to run the train into the station than to get
it out again, for the Midland officials proceeded to seize the offending
engine which had set the injunction at defiance. Midland engines


were placed at each end of the Great Northern locomotive, and
although the driver made a desperate effort to get his engine away, it
was carried off as " a prisoner of war " and locked up in a Midland
engine-shed. So as to be certain that there should be no escape the
rails leading to the shed were pulled up, and there the Great Northern
engine remained for seven months. At the end of this period it was
returned to the Great Northern, on the Ambergate Company agreeing
to build its own station at Nottingham and the Great Northern
Company to keep clear of the Midland lines. Thus the London
Road Station, erected at Nottingham for the accommodation of the
Great Northern by the Nottingham and Grantham Company, was
placed in close proximity to the Midland line.


We now come to deal with one of the most important and remark-
able projects in connection with the whole of the railway systems
north of London, and in which the Midland Railway Company was
the pivot upon which the whole scheme turned. The London and
North Western had their line and their terminus in London ; so had
the Great Northern, but the Midland were dependent on the grace
and favour of others. The Midland, however, was a growing power,
and accordingly her great rivals, the London and North Western and
the Great Northern, were anxious to absorb her. And, curiously enough,
the Midland had two "proposals" for amalgamation within two days.
On August 1 4th, 1852, the Secretary of the London and North Western
wrote to the Midland Company, informing them that they were pre-
pared to discuss the question of a closer union or amalgamation of
the two undertakings. The importance of this communication was
greatly enhanced by the receipt of a similar communication from
the Chairman of the Great Northern to Mr. John Ellis, the Chairman
of the Midland Company. What these negotiations ultimately resulted
in was a gigantic scheme by which the London and North Western,
the Midland, and Great Northern Companies, which controlled all
the traffic north of London, should be amalgamated. The parties,
after protracted correspondence and discussion, had all practically
agreed upon the terms, which were to be determined by three arbitrators
of great eminence, and all the parties had expressed their ardent desire
for amalgamation with the view of restricting competition and avoiding
duplicate lines, stations, and the running of duplicate trains. The
first practical step for the accomplishment of this object was the intro-
duction into Parliament of a Bill to amalgamate the London and


North Western and the Midland Railway Companies in 1853. The
shareholders of both companies sanctioned the scheme, and the Bill
was promoted and backed by the most powerful influences. Parliament,
however, considered the project in an entirely different light. Looking
at the matter from a national point of view, it established a most im-
portant precedent by declaring against the amalgamation of very large
railway companies. This first part of the scheme having failed to obtain
parliamentary sanction, involved the whole of the gigantic amalgamation
in complete failure.



THE enormous increase of railway traffic all over the country,
a vast proportion of which was seeking its outlet in London,
brought about a great change. The London and North Western at this
period had to deal, on two pairs of lines from Rugby to London, not
only with its own Irish, Scotch, Liverpool, and Manchester traffic, but
also to find accommodation for the whole of the traffic of the Midland
and its allied companies from Rugby to the south. No doubt the
London and North Western did their best, but they speedily found
out, as a matter of course, that there is a limit to the carrying capacity
of an up-and-down line, and the result was that there were serious
delays to the Midland traffic, which called for grave consideration on
the part of the Midland directors, who were ultimately obliged to
reconsider the Leicester and Hitchin line as the only possible way out
of their difficulties.

The Leicester and Hitchin project had previously played a very
important part in the policy of the Midland in the eventful years
1845-7, which must be described.

As at this period (1845) the Midland Company was working upon
very friendly terms with the London and Birmingham and handing
over a large traffic at Rugby, it may at first sight appear somewhat
extraordinary that its Chairman and large shareholders should be
parties to a rival route towards London ; we have consequently to
turn our attention to events which were taking place in the district
between Hitchin, on the Great Northern, Bedford, and Leicester.

A so-called independent railway company had been formed under
the name of the " Leicester and Bedford," to commence at Hitchin
by a junction with the Great Northern, to run thence through Bedford,
Wellingborough, Kettering, Harborough, and Wigston to Leicester,

Online LibraryClement Edwin StrettonThe history of the Midland railway → online text (page 13 of 36)