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Company had taken shares to nearly the same amount as themselves.

The opposition to these great proposals was led by Mr. O'Brian,
who urged that several of the branches proposed were simply for the
purpose of occupying the ground, so as to prevent other people taking
their traffic.

Mr. Franklin stated that he opposed these Bills because he thought


they had too much on their hands already ; besides that, the time
allowed them to consider each Bill was much too short. If they had
been brought all the way from Van Diemen's Land it might have been
reasonable to have thrown such a quantity of business together for
one meeting, but such a proceeding was not called for by their

The whole of the Bills, however, were approved.

The Chairman, in answer to a question, stated that the capital
wanted would be three millions, or about two millions more than they
had already power to raise. The directors had watched with great
anxiety the state of railway property in the country. He had warned
the public against the mode adoped in getting up lines, namely, that
of taking a map, drawing a line across it from one town to another,
issuing a prospectus, and getting capital. In all such cases the result
had followed which might have been anticipated much distress and
difficulty. He was afraid that though the resolution proposed by
Government for putting a stop to many of those undertakings was
framed in a kind spirit, with an anxious wish to relieve those parties
who had been so unfortunate as to involve their capital in undertakings
which were not secure and good in themselves, yet that it would not
be the remedy required by the extraordinarily excited state in which
their railway engagements had been made. No observations that
might be made could apply to their own meeting, as they came
together in a corporate capacity, no scrip shareholders being repre-
sented, but only parties holding the stock of the Company. Cases
occurred in which companies came upon parties for money when the
calls had actually been paid up. He believed the Government were
anxious to give relief if proper representations were made. He had
thought it right to make those observations on the first public oppor-
tunity afforded him, in order that they might find their way to the

Thus ended a meeting which must ever be memorable in the history
of the Midland.

Although the Midland policy at this period was of the most advanced
character, the vast importance of the traffic to Manchester had not
been fully grasped, or the Chairman would not have alluded to the
possibility of the Midland disposing of their interest in the Manchester,
Buxton, Matlock, and Midlands Junction Railway ; and it is certainly
remarkable that he should have placed before the proprietors an
inducement to invest ^270,000 in an undertaking without any deter-
mination to maintain their hold on a line which has since proved of
such inestimable value to the Midland Company.


It will be observed that the financial difficulties were to be met
by three methods first by means of the issue of new share capital,
second by the raising of loans, both of these for the construction
of the new lines, while the purchase of old lines was generally by
means of leases and the guaranteeing of dividends on the existing
shares, so that the former shareholders became holders of guaranteed
stock in the Midland Company, and they were thereby assured of a
fixed and definite return on their investments.

When these schemes came before Parliament a long and fierce
conflict ensued, which resulted in fifteen of them receiving the Royal
Assent ; three failed, seven were withdrawn, and one was held over at
the instance of the House of Lords, pending the settlement of the
question of gauge.

Although no less than ten of them were withdrawn or failed to pass,
it must not be supposed because of that circumstance that the pro-
posals contained in them failed in their purpose, because their objects
were achieved by other means, such as concessions, and running
powers in some cases, whereas in others they compelled the withdrawal
of competing schemes.

The carrying out of this great policy of expansion necessitates the
description of the salient characteristics of the undertakings to which
they refer, and how they came to be constructed.



WITH a view to placing the western side of the county of
Leicester in direct communication with London, steps were
taken in 1793 to form the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal, to provide facilities
for the conveyance of coal, lime, and other minerals.

A provisional committee instructed Messrs. Jessop and Whitworth,
two of the leading engineers of the day, to prepare plans and lodge
a Bill in Parliament. The scheme commenced in a junction with
the Coventry Canal at Marston Bridge, near Bedworth, Warwickshire,
and running to a basin to be constructed at Willesley, near Ashby-de-
la-Zouch, Leicestershire, and from thence branching and continuing in
one direction to the termination, one mile north-west of Moira Baths,
at a distance of thirty miles from the Coventry Canal, with further
extensions from Moira to coal mines at Swadlincote and Church
Gresley ; and in another direction passing through the town of Ashby
to the Ticknall Lime Works, Derbyshire, 8J miles, and having a
further branch to the Cloud Hill Lime Works of about 4^ miles.

After the plans were duly lodged, and during the winter of 1793-4,
it became evident that the number of locks required to get up from
Willesley Basin to Cloud Hill would be very costly, and, furthermore,
water could not be obtained for that section of the canal. On Feb-
ruary 24th, 1794, the engineers presented their estimates, and advised
the committee to adopt edge-rail-ways for the two sections to which
reference is above made.

Consequently during the time the Ashby Canal Bill was before the
House the following Clause 1 8 was added :

" And be it further enacted, that if the said Company of proprietors
shall judge it expedient that boats or other vessels, wagons or other
carriages should be conveyed over or along any part or parts of the
line to be pursued in making the said canal, or cuts or branches,
by rollers, inclined planes, or in any other manner than by water,


then, and in such case, it shall and may be lawful for the said Company
of proprietors to cause any rollers, inclined planes, or other works
to be made for that purpose at such place or places in the said line
as they shall think proper, and the same shall be considered to be
part of the said works hereby authorised to be made in like manner,
and to all intents and purposes as if such parts or places were made

The Act for the making of the Ashby Canal, and including Clause 18,
was passed on May 9th, 1794.

The work was at once put in hand, and the directors constructed the
main line of the canal from Marston to Moira and Ashby Wolds,
30 miles, perfectly level, without any locks, but by virtue of the clause
in the Act they laid tramroads from Willesley Basin to Ticknall Lime
Works, a distance of 8| miles, and the branch to Cloud Hill, about
4^ miles, also five short branches to Moira, Lount, Park Wood,
Swadlincote, and Church Gresley collieries were also tramroads.

Messrs. Jessop and Whitworth, the engineers, advised the directors
to lay down the " Jessop-edge-rail-way," and adopt the flanged wheels,
and they had decided to do so, when Mr. Benjamin Outram, of
Butterley (the father of General Sir James Outram, of Indian fame),
arrived on the scene and had several interviews with the various
directors ; and at the next meeting, after a severe fight, it was resolved
and ordered that the lines should be laid with "tram-plates," to be
three feet in length, of cast iron, having a ledge upon the inner side
to keep the wheels or rollers upon the track, and be spiked down
to stone blocks.

Mr. Outram won the day, and 4^ miles of the tramroad still exist at
the Ticknall end of the line. Jessop was naturally angry that the
directors had taken the advice of another engineer and rejected that
of their own engineers, and remarked, "It will bring about a break
of system in Leicestershire " ; and so it did, as we shall see later on.

By the same Act of Parliament under which the Ashby Canal was
formed Sir Henry Harpur obtained power to make a private railway or
stone road from Caulk to join the Ashby Company's system, as did
also Mr. William Abney, of Measham, who made a line from his
colliery at Heather to Shackerstone, and the same was done by
Mr. William Fermor, who connected his mines at Normanton-on-
the-Heath with the canal by means of a private plateway. The various
works constructed by virtue of the Ashby Canal Act, either by the
Company or by private persons, amounted to over 50 miles. They
were opened at various times. The first part of the Outram-way was in
use for traffic from Ticknall in 1799, and remains to the present time;


a portion of the canal was opened in 1802, and the whole of the under-
taking was completed and in full working order on May ist, 1805.
It should here be mentioned that in all the early Acts Parliament gave
powers to canal companies to make and maintain "navigable canals,"
and these became generally known as " navigations." The workmen
employed to make the canals, and also the cuttings or embankments of
lines in connection therewith, were known as " navigators," a word
which now has become contracted into "navvy."

Mr. Outram having induced the directors to adopt his "plate-way,"
sent his own men to lay down the permanent way, that is, to place
the stone blocks or supports in position and spike down the "plates."
These men were known as " platelayers," a term still applied to those
who maintain and lay permanent way ; but it is certain that a very few
of the present platelayers ever saw or even heard of a " plate," and
would not know how to lay one.

On the single lines there were numerous passing places, or loops,
known as "turn-outs," and to guide the ftat wheels in the required
direction there was at each end a pair of wrought-iron tongues pro-
vided with stems, which dropped into holes in the castings these were
termed the " pointers," a word which has become shortened into a pair
of "points."

Mr. Outram always spoke of the " plate-way " as " my system," " my
plates," and in January, 1796, he wrote to the Duke of Portland (who
was thinking of laying down a railway) informing him that "the Ashby
Canal Company had rejected the * rail-way ' and is laying down the
' Outram-way.' " By omitting the first two letters of the word Outram
and combining the words, we in these days refer to the line at Ticknall
as the Ashby tramway.

By a very similar process "Jessop's edge-rail-way" has been con-
tracted by leaving out the two first words entirely and writing the two
latter as one word, thus, "railway."

By an Act of July i6th, 1846, the Midland Company purchased the
property of the Ashby Canal Company for the sum of ^110,000.
This purchase was of a protective character, and it attained its object
at the time, which was to keep dangerous rival schemes away from the
Leicestershire coalfields. The most threatening of these were the
Leicester and Bedford and the Bill of the Atherstone, Ashby-de-la-
Zouch and Burton-on-Trent Railway Company, which proposed to
raise a capital of ,750,000, and to make a railway from the Trent
Valley at Atherstone, passing through Ashby, Market Bosworth, and
Hinckley, and having branches running to the collieries at Moira and
the whole of the mineral districts of Ticknall and Breedon.


The ancient Ashby and Cloud Hill Outram-way has to a considerable
extent, by virtue of the Act of 1865, been changed or converted into
the railway from Ashby to Worthington, leaving only the Ticknall
branch now remaining in its original condition.

This branch, 4 J miles in length, has the original old cast-iron Outram

This remarkable line is used occasionally, and to ride in a wagon
having four perfectly flat wheels (that is, without flanges), and be drawn

(Opened i799,^used occasionally 1901).

by a horse over cast-iron flanged "plates" in the year 1901 is an
experience which those persons interested in railway history and
development should not miss. The ancient toll-house and weighing
machine at the Ticknall Wharf remains, and is one of the very oldest
buildings or stations upon the Midland system.

At the time of the railway mania, 1843-5, several rival schemes pro-
posed to "join," "purchase," "work," or "have running powers over"
the Leicester and Swannington Railway, and the correspondence shows
that the " Leicester and Bedford," " Leicester and Tamworth," " Leices-
ter, Tamworth, Coventry, Birmingham, and Trent Valley Junction,"


" Direct Birmingham, Leicester, and Boston," and the " Direct London
and Manchester " (competing companies) were at this period all making
offers and attempting to obtain the Swannington line. The Midland
Company desiring to avoid competition in the Leicestershire district,
purchased the Leicester and Swannington Railway, a dividend of 8 per
cent, being guaranteed upon its share capital of ,140,000, all of which
was fully paid up.

The Swannington shareholders, at a meeting held at Leicester on
August 2oth, 1845, unanimously agreed to sell the line to the Midland
Company upon the terms above mentioned, which were no higher than
had been offered by other companies, and on June i5th, 1846, a special
meeting was held at the Bell Hotel, Leicester, when Mr. Isaac Hodgson
moved, and Mr. Edward Shipley Ellis seconded, the motion that " the
Bill now before Parliament be approved," and it was carried by 363
votes against 12.

The Act for the vesting of the railway was passed on July 27th, 1846,
by which the Midland Company was required to create ^140,000 of
Leicester and Swannington stock, consisting of 2,800 shares of ^50
each, to be divided amongst the former shareholders.

By this purchase i6J miles of railway, eight locomotives, six
carnages, an$ twelve goods vehicles were added to the Midland
system, but at that time there was no means of getting to the line
by rail.

However, on August 3rd, 1846, an Act was passed to enable the
Midland Company to alter and improve some portions of the Swan-
nington line, and to make branches from the main line of the Midland
Railway at Leicester and from Coalville to Burton-on-Trent.

In the following year this Act was amended by another, passed
July 2nd, 1847, under which powers the present Leicester and Burton
line was constructed. The old railway was doubled between Desford
Junction and Thornton, also between Bagworth and Mantle Lane,
Coalville, and a new deviation line, two miles in length, was constructed
in the parish of Thornton, to avoid the Bagworth self-acting incline
of i in 29, and to obtain a line over which locomotives could run.
Passengers travelling from Leicester to Burton will observe the track
of the old line on the right-hand side soon after passing Merry Lees,
running on the level close in front of the Stag and Castle Inn. The
power of locomotive engines had now so much increased that
Mr. Robert Stephenson (in conjunction with Mr. Charles Liddell)
constructed a new Bagworth incline, having a ruling gradient of i in 66,
which some seventeen years previously he had to avoid. An accident
of a serious character in the year 1843 led to the disuse of the old


Bagworth incline for passenger traffic. What happened was that whilst
a train consisting of goods wagons and a passenger carriage (which
most fortunately was empty) was being lowered down the incline it
slipped from the incline rope, and running down the severe gradient
was utterly wrecked. This occurrence so alarmed the directors and
manager that in order to avoid the possibility of a similar accident
occurring to a train conveying passengers they resolved to close the
incline for passenger traffic. Passengers, it is true, were booked as
usual from one end of the line to the other, but travellers were
compelled to leave the train at the foot of the incline and walk to
the top in one direction and to walk down to the bottom of the incline
from the other end. This, of course, led to great dissatisfaction, and
almost destroyed passenger traffic from Bagworth to Long Lane.

Thus it came about that when the Midland took over the line
they constructed the deviation line with better gradients, and aban-
doned the use of the incline entirely after it had been closed for
passenger traffic for about five years. The altered and improved lines
were opened for traffic in accordance with the following quaintly worded
notice issued by the local manager :


The public is respectfully informed that a double line of rails being now
laid down, and the line completed from Desford to Long Lane, on Monday
next, the 27th inst., a Train with Passengers will leave Leicester and Long
Lane at 8 a.m., 12, and 4.30 p.m., stopping at the intermediate places. On
Saturday the last train from Leicester and Long Lane will leave at 5 p.m.
instead of at 4.30 p.m.

By Order,

G. W. GILL, Manager.
Railway Office, West Bridge, March 23, 1 848.

It was then found that the Swannington Company's engines were
unable to convey the trains up the new Bagworth incline single-handed,
and a "bank engine" had to be kept at Desford Station. To avoid
this double engine running the Midland Company sent one of its
powerful goods engines named the " Buffalo " to work the line, but
as there was no railway communication the engine had to be conveyed
from the Fox Street Wharf to the West Bridge Station, a distance of
fully a mile, through the streets of Leicester.

The construction of the Knighton Junction and Desford line was
considerably delayed by the heavy cutting at Shoulder of Mutton Hill


and the sinking of a pier of the "Twelve Bridges" Viaduct, which
prevented the complete opening of the Leicester and Burton line until
August ist, 1849. Six miles of the old Swannington line near Leicester
and ij near Swannington still remain practically unaltered at the
present day.

The ;i 40,000 of Leicester and Swannington Stock was in 1875
converted into ,280,000 4 per cent. Midland Guaranteed Preferen-
tial Stock, and the latter amount was on April ist, 1898, converted into
,448,000 2\ per cent. Guaranteed Preferential Stock.

On March i3th, 1893, the new station at West Bridge, Leicester, was
opened and the old station of 1832 was closed. The Chairman's chair
and the bell from the top of the station are now carefully preserved at
Derby as relics of this early line.




WE must now devote considerable attention to the communica-
tion, or rather absence of communication, between the
north, the Midland system, and Bristol. To fully understand the
situation we must remember that when the Great Western Railway
was opened throughout on June 3oth, 1841, if a passenger required to
go from Bristol to Birmingham he must first travel from Bristol to
Paddington, then drive to Euston and go down by the London and
Birmingham Railway; in fact, journey over two sides of a triangle.
Some time afterwards it was possible to avoid the drive in London
by travelling over a very short line which bore the high-sounding title
of " The Birmingham, Bristol, and Thames Junction Railway," but as
the London and Birmingham and Great Western were of different
gauges there could be no real "junction" simply a transfer of traffic
from one train to another upon the line which to-day we know as the
West London.

As early as the year 1824 it was proposed to make a direct narrow-
gauge line from Bristol to Birmingham, but the scheme fell to the

An ancient tramway constructed by the Gloucester and Cheltenham
Railway Company had for many years conveyed traffic from the former
town to the docks at Gloucester, and it became evident to the inhabi-
tants of Birmingham that if they could form a company to make a line
from Birmingham to Cheltenham, the trade of Birmingham would be
vastly increased by means of the Gloucester Docks.

The Birmingham and Gloucester Railway Company was formed
principally by local gentlemen ; Mr. Charles Sturge, Daniel Ledsam,
Samuel Bowley, William Lewis, and other well-known business men
being the prime movers. The scheme was to erect a passenger and
goods station at Camp Hill, Birmingham, and to construct a railway
passing down the great Lickey incline to Bromsgrove and thence to



Cheltenham, the proposal being to purchase and use parts of the old
tramway system to the Gloucester Docks.

Probably this line would not have received more than local support,
and would have possessed no special interest had it not been that
at this particular period the " Battle of the Gauges " was commencing
to be waged. This fact undoubtedly caused the Birmingham and
Gloucester Railway Company to be powerfully backed by the Birming-
ham and Derby Junction, the Grand Junction, and the London and
Birmingham Companies, not only " with a view to keeping the Great
Western and its y-feet gauge down in the west," but also to enable
them to forward their own traffic by means of this railway to the
Gloucester and Berkeley Canal Docks and the west of England.

The London and Birmingham and Grand Junction Companies had
arranged to have their stations side by side at Curzon Street, and it
was intended immediately the Birmingham and Derby Company's line
was opened to Hampton that its trains should be run forward to
Curzon Street, Birmingham. It therefore followed that for the pur-
poses of through traffic the intended Birmingham and Gloucester
Railway must join the London and Birmingham system near the
Garrison, and have the power to run its own trains into the Curzon
Street Station, or into any other station in Birmingham which might
become the termination of the London and Birmingham Railway and
the point of exchange.

Various routes between Birmingham and Gloucester had been
surveyed, but Captain Moorsom, the Engineer, decided to carry the
railway from its commencement at the "Gloucester Junction," Birming-
ham, past the Camp Hill Station, Moseley, Bromsgrove, Dunhamp-
stead, Spetchley (for Worcester), Ashchurch, Cheltenham, to Spa
Road, Gloucester, and terminating at the Gloucester and Berkeley
Canal Company's basin and docks at Gloucester.

The Act for the formation of the Birmingham and Gloucester
Railway Company was passed on April 22nd, 1836, and it contained
the important clause giving the Company running powers from the
" Gloucester Junction " into " the present or any future termination
at or near Birmingham of the said London and Birmingham Railway."
This clause ultimately became of the greatest value and importance.

The route selected by the engineer necessitated that he should con-
struct the Lickey incline between Blackwell and Bromsgrove, fully two
miles in length, upon a gradient of i in 37. The engineers of that
day considered that such a gradient upon any main line was a great
mistake. Captain Moorsom replied that "in America he had seen
engines go up worse gradients than that, and if English engines could



not do it he would bring over engines from Philadelphia that

He therefore induced the directors to order eight locomotives from
Norris and Co., of Philadelphia, the first four to arrive being
named "England," "Philadelphia," "Columbia," and "Atlantic."
These engines had a four-wheeled leading bogie, a single pair of
driving wheels placed in front of the fire-box, and outside inclined
cylinders. The diameter of the cylinders was loj inches, the length
of stroke 18 inches, the diameter of the driving wheels 4 feet, and the
weight in working order 9 tons nj cwt.

Their usual performance up the Lickey incline was the conveyance
of a load of 33 tons at a speed of 12 to 15 miles per hour, or a load

(Birmingham and Gloucester Railway).

of 39^ tons at loj miles per hour, or a maximum load of 53 J tons at

Online LibraryClement Edwin StrettonThe history of the Midland railway → online text (page 9 of 36)