direct communication with the West of England and more particularly
with London, the latter being by far the most important of the two,
it was given out that the line was merely one to connect Derby to
Birmingham. It soon, however, became apparent that the Birmingham
and Derby line was to provide an alternative route to the south via
Hampton, and by this means convey the traffic for which the Midland
Counties had provided by their line through Leicester to Rugby.
This state of affairs brought the two companies into open conflict
before even parliamentary sanction had been given to their schemes.
But after the usual recriminations had been indulged in on both
sides, a calmer frame of mind was shown, with the result that negotia-
tions for the settlement of their differences by friendly means were
opened; and it was suggested that the Pinxton branch, which was
regarded by the North Midland as threatening their interests on the
one hand, and the Stonebridge branch, which the Midland Counties
regarded as infringing their rights on the other, should both be
AN EXCITING CONFLICT 63
eliminated from the scope of the Bills to be presented to Parliament.
The representatives of the Birmingham Company appear to have
regarded this proposal as satisfactory and the arrangement completed,
and, acting on this assumption, struck out the clause in their Bill
relating to the Stonebridge branch, and withdrew it from their ad-
vertisements, which by statute have to be published in the newspapers
of the district through which the line was to pass. Newspapers were
then only published weekly in the provinces, and the chagrin and
indignation of the directors of the Birmingham and Derby line may
be imagined when they discovered that their notices were withdrawn
and it was too late to remedy them, whilst those relating to the Pinxton
branch were retained. Whether this " piece of sharp practice," as
it was termed, was due to accident or design, or to the naturally strong
desire on the part of the Midland Counties to retain the branch which
was at the very foundation of their undertaking or not, it greatly
embittered the relations of the two companies, and ultimately led to the
Midland Counties being completely outgeneraled and outmanoeuvred
in the parliamentary conflict by their rivals, and afterwards to a
disastrous war of rates between the competing points.
The difficulty thus created by the withdrawal of the one branch and
the retention of the other was met by Mr. Beale by means of an
independent Stonebridge Junction Railway Company, which was
formed to make the Hampton branch over exactly the same route.
When the Bills were before Parliament the Stonebridge Company and
the Birmingham and Derby Company were amalgamated under the
title of the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway Company,
and the Act of Incorporation was passed on May igth, 1836.
Immediately after the Royal Assent had been given the Company
commenced the purchase of land and to make arrangements for
the construction of the line from Derby to Whitacre, as well as the
branch to Hampton ; but it entirely neglected to take any steps
whatever to make the portion of main line from Whitacre to the
proposed junction near Birmingham. The object of pushing forward
the branch to Hampton with all possible speed was in order that
they might forestall the Midland Counties line to Rugby, have their
line opened first, and thus secure the through traffic to London.
Further, an arrangement was made with the London and Birmingham
Company to convey Derby passengers to Birmingham via Hampton
to Curzon Street Station, thus obviating the necessity for making
the Stechford line.
The London and Birmingham line was completed and through
trains ran on September lyth, 1838, and on August 5th, 1839, the
64 THE HISTORY OF THE MIDLAND RAILWAY
connecting line from Derby to Hampton Junction, 38^ miles,
was formally opened by the directors, and ordinary traffic commenced
on August 1 2th of the same year. It will thus be seen that from
August 1 2th, 1839, to July ist, 1840, the only route from Nottingham
and Derby to London was via Burton, Whitacre, and Hampton, and
when on July ist, 1840, the lines were opened from York and Leeds
to Derby a very considerable traffic was placed on the Birmingham
and Derby Junction system ; but on the same day serious competition
with this line was commenced by the opening of the Midland Counties
Railway route to Rugby.
The directors of the Midland Counties Railway were undoubtedly
exceedingly annoyed to find that the rival route was opened first,
and that this was entirely in consequence of the clause in their
THE "DERWENT," SHARP'S LOCOMOTIVE, 1839
(Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway).
own Act one of the points in which they were placed at a great
disadvantage by their opponents which prevented the commencement
of their railway from VVigston to Rugby until August ist, 1837.
The Birmingham and Derby Junction Company remained in sole
possession of the Derby traffic for ten and a half months, but on
July ist, 1840, the Midland Counties was opened throughout to
Rugby. Then came the tug of war ; the Midland Counties was
determined to obtain the traffic for which its line was made, and
the Birmingham and Derby was equally anxious to retain the advantage
which it possessed as the result of parliamentary strategy.
Speeches were made on each side, both companies considered that
theirs was the proper route, and that the other was acting "ludicrously,"
"evasively," delusively"; also that traffic was being "abstracted from
direct channels " to be sent by a roundabout route.
Then fares were reduced until a first-class passenger, if going to
Rugby or London, was only charged 2s. for the 38 J miles from Derby
LAWLEY STREET, BIRMINGHAM 65
to Hampton instead of the proper local fare of 8s. The second-class
fares were also reduced to is. instead of 6s., which was charged for
A loss of 75 per cent, did not appear to trouble either company
so long as their rival lost heavily. Indeed, it was actually proposed
to convey the London passengers from Derby to Hampton for nothing;
but eventually it became evident to all practical men that this absurd
competition must not go on, and that two valuable properties were
At the general meeting of the Birmingham and Derby Junction
Company, held at Birmingham in August, 1841, the Chairman
suggested that it would be well for a "Shareholders' Committee of
Investigation" to be appointed, to consider the position and affairs of
the Company generally and the keen competition with the Midland
Counties Railway, which at that period was causing a great deal of
traffic to be conveyed at unprofitable rates.
FIRST-CLASS CARRIAGE SECOND-CLASS CARRIAGE
(Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway, 1839).
The line from Whitacre to Stechford, which received parliamentary
sanction under the original Act of May iQth, 1836, was never con-
structed. That portion of the scheme was left in abeyance, and by
an Act of June 3oth, 1837, tne time was extended for the taking of
lands, whilst in the following year (1838) a third Act provided for the
abandonment of the Stechford line and the use of the London and
Birmingham Railway, and the substitution of an entirely new route,
9 miles 71 chains in length, from Whitacre Junction, passing Forge
Mills, Water Orton, and Castle Bromwich, to the passenger and goods
station which the Birmingham and Derby Railway Company deter-
mined to erect at Lawley Street, Birmingham, giving communication
with the London and Birmingham Railway by means of a lift.
But although these powers were obtained, it was only when there
was a prospect of forming a communication with the Birmingham and
Gloucester Company, and also a fear that the broad-gauge Great
Western system was likely to be extended to Birmingham, that the
66 THE HISTORY OF THE MIDLAND RAILWAY
works were taken in hand. In the spring of 1841, however, the
construction of the line was commenced and pushed forward with all
The Whitacre and Birmingham extension was completed and
opened by the directors on February Qth, and to the public on the
following day, February loth, 1842, when the Birmingham and Derby
Company's line became an actual link between the two towns direct,
passengers and goods being conveyed to the new terminus at Lawley
Street instead of to Curzon Street, via Hampton. This saved the tolls
which had previously to be paid, and the station buildings, which were
an excellent type of those of the period, included all the head offices
and board room of the Company.
Lawley Street Station was constructed on a low level, whereas the
London and Birmingham Curzon Street Station was on a high level ; and
to enable through traffic to be exchanged between the companies a
" connecting lift " was constructed close to Lawley Street, which raised
or lowered wagons or vehicles, as the case might be, one at a time,
from one level to the other. But although this was the simplest
operation possible for the transfer of a small amount of traffic from
one line to another, yet when it occurred in the middle of a long
journey to a goods train from the north or midland districts to the
west and south-west of England it was a cause of serious delay, and
the evil became so great that subsequently it had to be dealt with by
means of a connecting railway.
The original passenger terminus at Lawley Street, Birmingham, after
being in use for a number of years for passenger traffic, has for this
purpose been for many years superseded by the great structure at
New Street. The Lawley Street buildings, greatly extended, are now
exclusively devoted to goods and mineral traffic. These new buildings
are quite worthy of the Midland Company and of the vast commercial
centre in which they are situated.
DIFFICULTIES SOLVED BY AMALGAMATION
T^IERCE and unrestrained competition between the three rival
r companies the North Midland, the Midland Counties, and the
Birmingham and Derby Junction had brought all three, in the years
1842 and 1843, into a position which was far from being pleasant to
the directors or satisfactory to the shareholders. All of them were
burdened with heavy administrative charges, and while on the one
hand traffic, as far as two of them were concerned, was being conducted
at unprofitable rates, on the other, invasions of their territory were
threatened from the south and east, and by the broad gauge from the
west. It thus became apparent that whilst the three companies were
engaged in the keenest warfare with one another, the very existence of
all three was seriously threatened, and their rivalries and conflicting
interests rendered them comparatively powerless unless changes of a
far-reaching character were brought about.
The first step towards a drastic change of policy was initiated by
Mr. James Heyworth, who with his family held one twentieth part of
the share capital of the Midland Counties Company. This gentleman,
at a meeting of that Company on August i3th, 1842, urged upon the
directors the necessity of making a searching inquiry, and he expressed
the opinion that they had "too many directors by half," and that
instead of having twenty-four directors with a remuneration of ^"1,200
a year, twelve gentlemen on the Board with ,600 a year would be
ample for the requirements of the Company. He followed up his
attack in the ensuing November, when a special meeting was held at
Derby, when he proposed and demanded a committee of investigation,
which, notwithstanding the opposition of the directors, was carried by
a 75 per cent, majority.
This led to a proposal being made that the Midland Counties and
the Birmingham and Derby Junction companies should amalgamate
a course which would have been attended with great advantages
to both the companies concerned. But the proposal aroused great
68 THE HISTORY OF THE MIDLAND RAILWAY
opposition on the part of the " Liverpool party " and the North
Midland Company, and it was evident to the North Midland that the
unification of the interests of the Midland Counties and the Birming-
ham and Derby Junction would only give them one string to their bow
in place of two. The opposition proved too powerful, and so the
scheme had to be abandoned.
These efforts at conciliation having failed, the old rivalry and com-
petition broke out afresh with ruinous effect on both companies, for the
fares and rates charged were such as could yield no profit whatever.
This led to a change in the attack on the part of the Midland Counties,
who were advised that the system of charging by their rivals between
Derby and Hampton was illegal as well as unfair and unreasonable.
Application was accordingly made to the Court of Queen's Bench for
a mandamus requiring the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway
Company to charge equally all persons travelling between Derby and
Hampton. This they were successful in obtaining, and the Midland
Counties directors were sanguine that they would be able to render it
impossible to continue the existing mode of competition.
The introduction of this new and costly legal weapon of warfare
threatened to entail further losses on both companies, and proved an
effective instrument in bringing both parties to a more conciliatory and
reasonable frame of mind. They were, in fact, weary of the prolonged
turmoil and strife which was only destructive in its character, and other
influences were brought into play which tended greatly to restore peace
to all parties.
In the early part of the year 1843 the three companies North
Midland, Midland Counties, and Birmingham and Derby Junction
were all in positions far from prosperous, and there were signs that
one would be attacked by the London and York now Great Northern
that a line from Hitchin would probably be extended by that
Company or its friends into the very centre of the Midland Counties,
and that the Great Western would probably carry the broad gauge to
Birmingham or Rugby, and even Manchester was spoken of as a
likely termination for the 7 -feet gauge.
The " Liverpool party " became alarmed at the prospect of the
broad gauge overrunning the country, and they saw that the three
narrow-gauge companies, which had spent so much time and money in
useless fighting, must now combine to resist the separate attacks which
were threatened. George Stephenson, George Hudson, and John
Ellis all expressed themselves as specially anxious that a scheme for
the amalgamation of the three companies should be immediately
AMALGAMATION ARRANGED 71
Mr. Hudson brought the matter before the North Midland Board,
and at his suggestion communications were opened with the other two
boards, with the result that in September, 1843, the proposition that
the three lines should be amalgamated was approved by the other two
companies. A joint committee, consisting of members from the three
boards of directors, was then formed, and met at Derby Station to
draw up details and arrange for a Bill to be introduced into Parliament
"to consolidate the North Midland, Midland Counties, and Birming-
ham and Derby Junction Railways."
The joint committee had to take into account the share capital of
the three companies and arrive at the respective values. The North
Midland Company had "whole," "half," and "third" shares; the
"whole" shares had been issued at ^100, but the "halves" were
issued at 40, and the "thirds" at 21 135. ^d. The Midland
Counties shares were "whole," "quarter," and "fifths"; the "whole"
shares were issued at ^"100, the "quarters" at 1$, and the "fifths"
had only 2 paid up.
It was decided to consider all the above shares as of their nominal
value, except the " fifths," which were to be considered as of the value
actually paid up, or 2. The Birmingham and Derby shares were
"whole," "third," and "eighth," and it was decided that the "whole"
shares, upon which .100 had been paid, should be considered as
.95; the "thirds," which had been issued at ^25, to be valued
at $i 135". 4^.; and the "eighths," which had been issued at
^"3 iSs. 5</., to be considered as 6 i^s. ^d.
It was also determined that the Birmingham and Derby shareholders
should receive i js. 6d. per annum less dividend per ^100 than the
proprietors of the two other companies. These terms and the Amalga-
mation Bill then before Parliament were considered and approved of
by special meetings of the shareholders of the three companies on
April 1 6th and ryth, 1844. It was also arranged that the three accounts
should be kept separately until June 3oth, 1844, the last independent
dividends for the half year being North Midland Railway, whole
shares, 2 2$. od. ; Midland Counties Railway, whole shares, 2 2s. 6d. ;
Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway, whole shares, i 6s. 6d.
It was also agreed that the consolidated company should have a
board of fifteen directors, and as the three companies had been
managed by thirty-four, it followed that no less than nineteen directors
and two sets of chief officers would lose their positions.
The three lists annexed give the names of the directors and officers
immediately before the passing of the Act, those marked * being
retained for service under the new company.
72 THE HISTORY OF THE MIDLAND RAILWAY
NORTH MIDLAND RAILWAY COMPANY.
*William L. Newton (Chairman)
Anthony Titley (Deputy Chairman).
Henry Cox . .
*Joseph Holds worth
*William Murgatroyd .
*Charles Tee . .
P. W. Brancker
J. T. Alston . .
Secretary and Superintendent.
Chief Office Derby Station.
MIDLAND COUNTIES RAILWAY COMPANY.
Thomas E. Dicey (Chairman)
James Oakes (Deputy Chairman)
*William Evans Hutchinson
George Byng Paget
*John Ellis .
Lawrence Hey worth
*John Fox Bell
*W. H. Barlow
. Sutton Bonnington.
Secretary and Superintendent.
Chief Office Leicester Station.
BIRMINGHAM AND DERBY JUNCTION RAILWAY COMPANY.
*Samuel Beale (Chairman)
*Abel Peyton (Deputy Chairman)
*Josiah Lewis .
*Sir Oswald Mosley
Chief Office Lawley Street Station, Birmingham.
THE MIDLAND RAILWAY COMPANY
ON May loth, 1844, the Royal Assent was given to the Act by
virtue of which the " North Midland," " Midland Counties," and
" Birmingham and Derby Junction " railway companies " shall be
and the same are hereby dissolved," and the proprietors of shares
"shall be incorporated by the name of "The Midland Railway
As the new Company was to come into power immediately after the
Royal Assent, it was found necessary that the Directors should be in a
position to take control without delay ; it was therefore enacted, " That
the number of directors shall be fifteen." The names of the fifteen
gentlemen had been selected in the proportion of six from the North
Midland, five from the Midland Counties, and four from the Birming-
ham and Derby Junction, and it was also enacted that "they shall be
the first directors." The Board thus constituted by Act of Parliament
immediately met and elected George Hudson Chairman, and John Ellis
Deputy Chairman ; the following being
THE FIRST BOARD OF DIRECTORS.
(Initials of previous
(N.M.) George Hudson (Chairman) . . York.
(M.C.) John Ellis (Deputy Chairman) . . Leicester.
(B.D.J.) Samuel Beale . . . Birmingham.
(N.M.) Joseph Holdsworth . . . Wakefield.
(M.C.) William Evans Hutchinson . . Leicester.
(B.D.J.) Josiah Lewis . ... Derby.
(B.D.J.) Sir Oswald Mosley . . . Burton-on-Trent.
(N.M.) William Murgatroyd . . . Bradford.
(N.M.) William Leaper Newton . . Derby.
(B.D.J.) Abel Peyton . ... Birmingham.
(M.C.) John Taylor . ... Leicester.
(N.M.) Charles Tee . ... Barnsley.
(N.M.) John Waddingham . . . Leeds.
(M.C.) Samuel Waters . . . Leicester.
(M.C.) Henry Youle . . . Nottingham.
74 THE HISTORY OF THE MIDLAND RAILWAY
(M.C.) Secretary . ... John Fox Bell.
(N.M.) Superintendent . . . Peter Clarke.
(M.C.) Resident Engineer . . W. H. Barlow.
(B.D.J.) Locomotive Superintendent . . Matthew Kirtley.
Chief Office Derby Station.
The share capital of the new Company was contributed in the
following proportions :
Birmingham and Derby Junction
Total Midland Railway
",$, 1 58,900
This capital was divided into 120,695 shares of the undermentioned
nominal values :
N.M." and "M.C."
B. and D.J."
B. and D.J."
The three companies had also raised money by loans as under :
North Midland . . . . . 815,450
Midland Counties . ... 466,000
Birmingham and Derby Junction . . . 300,000
Total loans Midland Railway
In order that the Midland Railway Company could pay off these
and carry out some necessary improvements, power was granted to
reborrow and raise a sum of i, 7 19,633 on loan.
The Midland Company's main lines at the time of the amalgamation
consisted of the following distances contributed by the companies as
North Midland . . ... 72
Midland Counties ... . 57
Birmingham and Derby Junction . . .
Total main line
THE LARGEST RAILWAY CORPORATION 75
In addition to this there were several short branches to goods
yards, cattle docks, and collieries, bringing the total up to about
i8i miles, of which 65 miles were laid on stone blocks, 115 miles
on sleepers, and about ij miles on bridge rails, passing over viaducts
By the amalgamation a great saving in the cost of administration
was effected, as well as an enormous saving in working expenses, and
the Midland Railway became the largest railway corporation with the
THE MIDLAND HOTEL, DERBY.
greatest length of line of any company then in existence. It was
indeed a most memorable occasion, as it marked the beginning and
the birth of the great combinations which were afterwards to become
such powerful factors in the commerce of the nation. It was the first
important amalgamation in the history of the railway world, and it gave
a new impetus to and laid the foundation of all the enormous extensions
not only on the part of the Midland Company itself, but it was also an
object lesson in combination which exercised an influence in railway
affairs beyond all calculation.
A POLICY OF EXPANSION
THE Midland shareholders held their first General Half-yearly
Meeting on Tuesday, July i6th, 1844, at Derby, when the
Chairman, Mr. George Hudson, presided; and he was able to point
out that the receipts for the half-year to June 30th had increased by
^21,000, working expenses had been reduced by ^9,000, and further
reductions would follow when the salaries of many members of the
three staffs would cease. He at the same time expressed regret that
many useful and valuable officers had to leave their service. He also
added that the dividends declared were proofs of steadily advancing
prosperity, and that the return for the week which had just been made
up showed a revenue amounting to ^10,152. The Chairman after-
wards submitted a resolution authorising the directors to take steps to
obtain powers in the next session of Parliament for the construction