Did you know that the London, Midland & Scottish Railway was the largest railway network in Britain? Established in 1923 this colossus of a rail network was so big the route covered over six and a half thousand miles and delved in to the heart of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
With seven main companies and a further twenty seven sub companies, the LMS was the result of smaller rail networks being rolled in to one in order to improve current rail facilities and to help with the expansion of the network. The rail service at the time was fragmented and dis-organised – the LMS Company was just not about building better rail tracks but also served other purposes for the British Empire including being one of the biggest employers at the time and also was the biggest transport company in the world.
Despite this, the overall company was not a financial success considering the size and clout of the company. Less than 3% profits were returned over a 20 year period and finally in 1948 the LMS was no more when British Railways, a new nationalised UK rail company took over the existing LMS railway along with the other big three (GWR, SR and LNER).
The Early Days
1921 was the year when the Railway Act finally decreed that four main British companies were to control the rail networks of the land. For the LMS, this was a huge task – London, the Midlands and the North Western Railway were already big lines so the organisation and centralisation of these routes must been a massive job for the early pioneers.
Competition between the big four rail networks was huge with reports of there being many conflicts which is easy to understand when you consider that many of the routes cross into another rail company’s jurisdiction. In 1926 the LMS sought to organise the company better with the appointment of Josiah Stamp – a baron born in London who also served as director for the Bank of England.
He was instrumental in appointing the renowned steam engineer, William Stanier as CME a move which was seen by many as a master stroke as at this time the company was plagued with mechanical failures of the rolling stock.
As with many other industries the British rail network was severely affected by world war two. There was a need to re-evaluate transport in the UK and in 1948 the LMS was nationalised with other sub rail companies.
Locomotives that ran the Line
LMS boasted the biggest stock of trains, remember it wasn’t just rail passengers but also freight cargo that needed to be transported up and down the country with some the trains can be seen on traingames4u website where online train games & simulators bring back memories from the golden era of steam. Despite there being a small engine policy some of the most famous steam trains in the world were present on the LMS line.
Trains such as the Royal Scot and classes such as the Adams, Longbottom and Clare dominated the British rail scene all the way up to 1960s where steam trains were phased out in the UK.
As well as train lines the LMS were also highly influential in canal transport, shipping routes and road transportation. Ellesmere and Chester Canals for example were used to transport cargo until they were eventually taken over by the British Waterways Board. Ports and harbours were also under the control of the company with Holyhead, Stranraer and Fleetwood all significant ferry docks.
Rail, road and water. In the heyday of steam transport, the LMS simply dominated Britain. Thankfully there are societies, model clubs and historic organisations that will never let important rail heritage slip by the wayside.