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The history of the Midland railway online

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appear, was then regarded as almost revolutionary in its character; as
an unwarranted attack upon neighbouring and competing lines; as
an invasion of the rights and privileges of the great middle class to
consideration, provision for their reasonable and legitimate travelling
requirements ; and as a policy of " equality and fraternity " thrust
upon the English people which they neither appreciated nor desired.

It is difficult to realise after a quarter of a century how men of
sound business acumen, politicians, and many critics of the day could
see so many evils in so small a " revolution," which would be better
described as an important but necessary change in the business
management of a great public concern. But although at this dis-
tance of time it may seem to the casual observer to have been
a comparatively small matter and a "battle in a teacup," it was,
after all, a great departure ; it was the initiation of a great movement
for the better treatment and the greater comfort of the great bulk
of those who travel than had been previously considered either
possible or desirable. It, in fact, proved to be the Magna Charta
of the third-class passenger, and formed the intermediate stage of
the great three-fold movement which has since led to so many other
improvements of the greatest advantage. First of all there was third-
class by all trains ; next, the abolition of second-class, a reduction of
first-class fares to the price of second; and thirdly, there was the
provision of cushioned seats for third-class carriages, which practically
meant the abolition of the old third-class carriages and the levelling
up of the third to the comfort of the old second-class. The wisdom
and ability shown in engineering these great changes in a quiet and
effective way least calculated to disturb the susceptibilities of others
and at the same time safeguard the interests of Midland shareholders
was most conspicuous. In order to have a clear conception of the


matter, the basis of the change must be considered. When the
Midland Board came to consult (November 4th, 1874) as to the new
rolling stock which should be ordered for the opening of the Settle
and Carlisle Railway, the question of classes was forced very strongly
on the attention of the directors. It had been long under considera-
tion, and it had been further observed that the passenger traffic was
not extending in a degree corresponding with the increase in goods
and mineral traffic. They also came to the conclusion, from a long
series of careful observations, that a great deal of unnecessary weight
had to be carried in their trains. Again, they found that the capital
cost of a first-class carriage of three compartments was about ^450,
and the yearly earnings ^530; the cost of a second-class carriage of
four compartments about ,250, and the yearly earnings about ^430
and the cost of a third-class carriage of four compartments .270, and
the yearly earnings about ,890. So that the first-class carried 118 per
cent, on its cost, the second-class 122 per cent., and the third-class
330 per cent. The carefully ascertained facts led the directors, whilst
in meeting assembled, not only to arrive at their decision, but to have
the circular put in type and sent out to the secretaries of all other
railway companies before they left the room. The formal resolution
declared that on and after January ist, 1875, on ^y two classes of pas-
sengers would be carried on the Midland Railway first and third ;
that first-class fares be reduced to \\d. per mile and third-class fares
to be continued as at present, return tickets at reduced fares to be

The three months' notice to the other railway companies of the
kingdom was at once followed by a "council of war" of the directors
and managers of the Great Northern, the Great Western, the Lanca-
shire and Yorkshire, the London and North Western, the Manchester,
Sheffield, and Lincolnshire, and the North Eastern Railway Companies,
held at Euston under the chairmanship of Mr. R. Moon. A resolution
was unanimously adopted and forwarded to the Midland Company to
the effect that the Midland Board be "respectfully requested to post-
pone the proposed action in reference to the abolition of the second
or intermediate class and the reduction of the first-class fares until
after the ensuing half-yearly meetings; and that in the meantime the
companies represented at this meeting will be willing to consider with
the Midland Company what change, if any, should be made in the
conduct of the passenger traffic of the country in the direction of
increased facilities, with fair regard to the interests of railway pro-
prietors ; and that this meeting be adjourned for the reception of the


On the same day, November 5th, 1874, the Chairman of the Midland
Company (Mr. Edward Shipley Ellis) addressed a spirited circular
to the shareholders of his Company, in which he set forth that their
action had been so keenly, and in some cases so unfairly criticised
that he deemed it right to state explicitly the reasons which influenced
them in recommending the change. "The charge," he stated, "has been
freely made that we are abolishing second-class carriages and reducing
first-class fares with the object of injuring adjoining companies and
entering upon a course of new and ruinous competition which deserves
reprisals at their hands. This charge is totally unfounded. Our only
objects are to increase the profits of the Midland Company by reducing
the cost of working the passenger service, and by obtaining a greater
number of passengers at lower first-class fares. It is to the encourage-
ment and increase of the local traffic on our own system that we look
for a return, not to the abstraction of traffic from other companies.
A change of this character may prove less beneficial to other com-
panies than to us that it will prove injurious to any, your directors
do not believe but we hold ourselves responsible in the conduct of
affairs of this Company to Midland proprietors alone, and we are not
justified in rejecting a change which will be beneficial to them because
it may not suit one or more neighbouring companies, the circumstances
of whose traffic may be widely different, and who, after all, are keen
competitors with the Midland, not mindful, as the last few years have
shown, of the interests of the Midland shareholders." He also reviewed
the policy of extension, which had been miscalled aggression, which
had been forced upon the Midland, and added, " No one who has
watched the subsequent development of the districts traversed by the
Midland can doubt the enormous advantages which the public have

With the object of increasing the passenger receipts pro rata
with the increasing goods traffic, the experiment was tried in 1872 of
conveying third-class passengers by all trains. " The success of that
policy justifies your directors in asking your confidence and support in
carrying out the present proposal, which is based upon the former
change and is an almost necessary consequence of it."

A special meeting of the shareholders was held at Derby on Novem-
ber 1 7th, at which Mr. Ellis clinched the matter by declaring "the
question now to be determined by the shareholders is really whether
your directors are to be allowed to manage their own affairs, or whether
we are to submit to a policy to be determined by our rivals." The
result was that the proposals were endorsed by 44,305 votes as against
6,177. This decisive confirmation at once put an end to the threatened


interference of the other companies, and January ist, 1875, saw the
great change in full operation.

Twelve months later the Chairman of the Company had the satis-
faction of informing the shareholders that the change had proved very
satisfactory. He also added that the change had caused them to gain
ground with the public, but they could not hope to satisfy their com-
petitors, to whom the Midland conceded what they appeared to grudge
the Midland, namely, the right to manage their own affairs in their own
way. Having thus further secured public confidence, as well as the
confidence of their shareholders, the Midland further determined (1875)
to cushion all third-class carriages and in other ways to add to the
comfort of those who travelled third-class. The wisdom of delaying
this further reform till events had matured is apparent, for to have
launched both schemes at one and the same time would probably have
been fatal to both ; for it would have been tantamount to a declaration
of carrying third-class passengers in second-class carriages at third-
class fares, and neither the shareholders nor the public were prepared
for so great a change. Time and experience have most amply justified
a step which was so seriously challenged at the date of its inception,
and a whole list of other benefits have followed in its train : third-class
lavatory compartments, third-class breakfast and dining cars, and many
other very substantial improvements. The Midland were the pioneers
in this great movement, and other companies were compelled to improve
their accommodation in a corresponding degree. The heroes of this
noteworthy struggle were beyond all question Mr. Edward Shipley Ellis,
the Chairman, whose quiet, steady, persistent Quaker determination
was accompanied by dignity and confidence, and Mr. James Allport,
the General Manager, whose transcendent genius as a railway adminis-
trator laid the foundations and placed the fortunes of the Midland
Company on a solid and enduring basis. Mr. James Allport, be-
yond all cavil or question, was by far the ablest man of his time as a
railway administrator in this or any other country, and when he laid
down the burden of his general managership he was elected a director
of the Company and voted by the shareholders the sum of ^"10,000 in
recognition of his long and invaluable services.

As Mr. Ellis stated to the writer at the time, " We are not going to
be cajoled ; we are not going to be intimidated from the discharge of
a great public duty, and a duty to our shareholders. We have confi-
dence in Mr. Allport, and we are not going to be driven from the path
of duty by either threats of reprisals or by anything else. We calmly
await the verdict of experience and results." How great these results
are only those who remember the old order of things and enjoy the


new privileges can adequately tell. And side by side with all this
we have the continued and continuing prosperity of the great under-
taking whose destinies have fallen into no less able and devoted

In the year 1874 the Midland Company introduced the first complete
American train into this country, the cars having been built by the
Pullman Car Company at Detroit and sent over in pieces to be put
together at Derby. These cars were 57 feet in length over the end
platforms and ran upon two four-wheeled bogies ; they were provided
with central single buffers and automatic couplings, the engines
intended to work these trains being specially fitted with central

On March i7th, 1874, an officials' special express to test the running
of the cars at very high speed was worked between Derby and St.
Pancras with engine "No. 906" and two cars. The time allowed for the
journey was only 2- hours and included two stops of three minutes
each, and a speed of 75 miles an hour was attained on parts of the
journey; and four days later (March 2ist) a special express of four cars
ran from London to Bedford and back and conveyed about eighty
visitors, all of whom were greatly interested in the trip; and upon
June ist, 1874, the new train of five cars commenced regular running,
leaving Bradford at 8.30 a.m. and returning at 12 midnight from
St. Pancras.

The cars for first, second, and third-class passengers were the property
of the Midland Company, and ordinary fares were charged ; but the
drawing-room and sleeping cars were the Pullman Company's, and for
which a small extra charge was made. On April ist, 1875, American car
trains were introduced between Liverpool, Manchester, and London, and
in addition to the day trains a sleeping-car was run to Liverpool at
midnight from St. Pancras.

The American visitors very highly appreciated the Pullman trains, but
many English travellers expressed a preference for the ordinary com-
partment vehicles. Consequently, on May i5th, 1876, the Company
provided Midland carriages in place of the first and third-class cars.
On March nth, 1878, the complete American trains were again intro-
duced between Liverpool, Manchester, and London, but the Man-
chester passengers expressed their opinions so strongly in favour of
compartments that the first and third-class Midland cars were again
withdrawn on March igth, 1878, since which time they have been in
occasional use for special parties.

This furnished a notable instance of providing luxurious travelling,
which failed at the time to meet with its due reward and appreciation ;



for there can be no question whatever that for long-distance travelling
the Pullman bogie cars in 1874 were by far the finest trains in the
kingdom. There can be no doubt that the spirited action of the
Midland Company in this respect led to the general introduction
of bogie vehicles on English railways, and marked an important epoch
in the art of making railway travelling comfortable and indeed enjoy-
able, while at the same time adding greatly to the security and safety
of running at a high speed.


The Pullman Car Company, on July loth, 1882, introduced first-class
dining cars upon the Midland, one being attached to the 5 p.m. express
from St. Pancras to Liverpool, the other to the 4.5 p.m. up train from

The Midland Company having purchased the whole of the Pullman
day cars, first-class passengers, on November ist, 1883, were allowed
to ride in the day cars without extra payment, except, of course, the
price of dinner provided in the dining cars. In February, 1888, the
Company also purchased the sleeping cars, and the fare was fixed at
5-r. extra between all points.

In May, 1900, four new American Pullman sleeping cars of the latest
pattern were put on between St. Pancras and Edinburgh and Glasgow.


The cars were manufactured in America, taken to pieces, shipped to
Liverpool, and afterwards reconstructed at the Company's works at
Derby. They are 60 feet in length, and run on two six-wheeled bogies.
One half of the car is taken up by four state-rooms, each of which is
fitted up with a bed and folding washstand. All the berths are on
the same level, the plan of putting one over the other having been
abandoned in the state-rooms as well as in the general room, which
occupies the other half of the car. This general room is provided
with seats for day travelling, and at night curtains are provided which
completely shut off each berth from the rest of the car. Altogether
there are eleven berths, five of which are in the state-rooms, which are
mainly intended for ladies. The cars are 8 feet wide inside, and 8 feet
10 inches from floor, to roof. They are most elaborately furnished;
there is a refreshment buffet, and in fact everything that can conduce
to the comfort of the passengers.



THE Midland Company, by virtue of its lease and ultimate pur-
chase of the (Little) North Western Railway, extended as far
north as Ingleton, where it met and formed what is termed " an end-
on junction " at Ingleton with the Lancaster and Carlisle Company's
system, this latter line giving communication with Scotland to both the
London and North Western and Midland routes via Low Gill and
Carlisle. However, from the first the London and North Western had
a considerable controlling interest in the Lancaster and Carlisle
Company, and ultimately leased the line and rolling stock for no less
a period than 1,000 years.

To all intents and purposes the line passed from the hands of an in-
dependent company into those of a powerful rival. True, the London
and North Western Company did work the Midland traffic between
Ingleton and Carlisle, but with such serious delays, inconveniences,
and changes of carriages that in point of fact the Midland Scotch
traffic was practically completely killed. The Midland Board and Mr.
Allport, about 1865, determined that this serious obstruction could no
longer be endured, and complaint was made to the London and
North Western Company, by whom it was suggested that the Midland
might purchase a half-share of the line and run over it, but the London
and North Western was to "control" the rates and fares charged by the
Midland. Such a suggestion the Midland Board could not for one
moment entertain ; and as they had already had such bitter experiences
of "running powers" between Hitchin and King's Cross, they came to
the only possible conclusion that the most satisfactory way of forming
communication with Scotland was to make an entirely new line of
its own from Settle to Carlisle. Naturally the London and North
Western viewed with alarm the prospect of the Midland arriving at
Carlisle upon its own rails, and opposed the Bill in Parliament, but
without avail, as it was perfectly evident to the Select Committee
. that the Midland was only acting in self-defence against serious and

P 209


unnecessary obstruction to its traffic; and accordingly, on July i6th,
1866, the Midland was authorised to construct its Settle and Carlisle
line, and to use the Citadel Station at that city, ^1,650,000 capital to
be raised in shares and .555,000 by loan. The passing of this Act
gave great satisfaction to the Lancashire and Yorkshire and North
British Companies, and it was proposed that the Midland and Glasgow
and South Western Companies should completely amalgamate.

Seeing that the Midland would firmly establish itself in Scotland, the
London and North Western appears to have regretted having broken
off the negotiations with reference to the use of its Lancaster and
Carlisle line, and it became " hinted " that they were willing to reopen
the consideration of the subject.

At this period a somewhat extraordinary incident occurred in the
relationship between some of the shareholders and the Midland Board
of Directors. It appears that a considerable number of persons
holding stock in the Midland Company were also interested financially
to an equal, if not greater, extent in the Lancaster and Carlisle and
London and North Western Railways. Consequently, having an eye
to their own divided interests, they were in favour of the Midland
Company abandoning its Settle and Carlisle Act and coming to terms
for the use of the Lancaster and Carlisle Line. These gentlemen
formed themselves into a Midland Shareholders' Association, with a
Manchester solicitor as its secretary, and they adopted a very bold and
unusual course of procedure, for, quite unknown officially to the
directors of the Midland, they proceeded to interview the Chairman
and officials of the London and North Western at Euston, with whom
they discussed the terms upon which their projects could be carried
into effect. They actually so far succeeded as to obtain a statement
of the terms of the London and North Western, which were, in effect,
that the whole matters in dispute should be referred to the President
of the Board of Trade, conditional to the Midland Company abandon-
ing its Settle and Carlisle line. This proposal, when communicated to
the Midland Company, was described by Mr. Hutchinson as childish,
and the shareholders as a body expressed their views and feelings by
receiving the news with hilarity.

The heavy expenditure of capital of the Midland, however, at this
period became so onerous that a policy of caution and reserve became
necessary, and accordingly at a meeting of the shareholders on January
1 5th, 1868, Mr. Hutchinson announced that the future policy of
the Board would be the suspension of all works which would not
involve too great a sacrifice, postponement of all new lines not yet
commenced, and the enforcement of the most rigid economy. A


consultative committee, consisting of nine shareholders, headed by
Mr. Baines, M.P., was appointed to confer with the directors. The
result of their inquiries was given in a report to the shareholders, in
which they " bore abundant testimony to the integrity and ability with
which the administration of the directors had been conducted." They
also emphasised the fact that certain large expenditure which other
companies debited to capital had in the case of the Midland been
paid out of revenue, as well as the interest on ,5, 000,000 of un-
productive capital ; they, however, expressed some regret that the
Company had been induced to undertake arrangements beyond what
could properly be undertaken at one time without great inconvenience
to the shareholders.

In pursuance of this policy negotiations were reopened with the
London and North Western for the use of their line between Ingleton
and Carlisle, the result being that it was determined, if possible, to
abandon the construction of the Settle and Carlisle extension, both
companies having come to satisfactory terms, and both lodged a Bill
in Parliament to carry out this arrangement. The opposition to this
abandonment of another independent route to Scotland was opposed
by the Lancashire and Yorkshire and the North British Railway Com-
panies, on the ground that the projected line would be of enormous
advantage to their traffic by giving them a competitive line with the
North Western. After six days' contest in Parliament it was decided
that in the public interest the abandonment Bill must be thrown out
and the Settle and Carlisle line constructed. This decision carried dis-
appointment to many of the Midland shareholders, but Mr. Hutchinson
comforted them with the fact that the traffic between England and
Scotland, disclosed by the testimony before Parliament, was more
valuable than they had previously been led to expect.

The surveying and formation of the 72^ miles of line from Settle
to the junction with the North Eastern Railway at Carlisle were works
of great difficulty. The country to be traversed was one of the wildest
districts, with mountain ranges, wild gorges, and almost precipitous
cliffs barring the way. However, great as were the obstacles to be
encountered, they were all most successfully overcome, and the line
constitutes a great engineering work certainly one of the most
important which has been achieved in railway construction in this

Branching off from the old main line at Settle Junction at a height
of 425 feet above sea-level, the railway is carried up the valley of the
Ribble for a distance of 15 miles to Blea Moor Tunnel, the gradient
throughout this portion being the severe one of i in 100. The


first important work after leaving Settle Junction is at the Skipton
Road, which it crosses by a fine skew girder bridge, having a span of
62 feet. A deep cutting is next entered through grit stone, which
provided materials for the construction of many of the bridges. A
vast quantity of earth was excavated on the west side of the railway,
and was deposited to form the goods yard and site of the Settle
Station, which included an area of about ten acres. On its way across
Kirk Gate, one of the principal streets of Settle, a viaduct was con-
structed having four arches, each of 30 feet span and 23 feet high.
Another viaduct spans Giggleswick Road, and is succeeded by a high
embankment containing no less than 250,000 cubic yards of earth,
which had been excavated from several cuttings in the neighbourhood.
After passing the turnpike road to Ingleton, an embankment com-
mences, and contains no less than 280,000 cubic yards. Thirteen
miles from Settle the Batty Moss Viaduct is reached. It spans the
valley leading to Ingleton, and is one of the most important works on
the line. It is 1,328 feet in length, composed of twenty-four arches,
and the rail-level is 100 feet above the ground. Shortly after passing
over this great work we enter the Blea Moor Tunnel, another heavy
and very costly undertaking. It is i mile 865 yards in length, and
the rail-level at the highest point in the tunnel is 1,151! feet above

Online LibraryClement Edwin StrettonThe history of the Midland railway → online text (page 18 of 36)