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THE LONDON & NORTH WESTERN RAILWAY

Until 1923, the London & North Western Railway was the largest railway in Britain. It had been formed in 1846 by the merger of:-

  • The Grand Junction Railway Explain 'Grand Junction Railway (GJR)', which ran from Earlestown to Birmingham, had already merged with the Liverpool and Manchester.
  • The London and Birmingham Railway Explain 'London & Birmingham Railway (LBR)'.
  • The Manchester and Birmingham Explain 'Manchester & Birmingham Railway (MBR)', but which ran only from Manchester to Crewe.

Within a few years of its formation the LNWR had built or taken over several other railways. The main line ran from London Euston to Carlisle — which we now know as the West Coast Main Line Explain 'West Coast Main Line' — where traffic was passed on to its Scottish partner, the Caledonian Explain 'Caledonian Railway (CR)', for Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Other main lines ran to Holyhead (by mail steamer to Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire) or LNWR steamer to Dublin or Greenore), Liverpool, through Manchester to Leeds, to Peterborough and to Merthyr and Swansea in South Wales. Alliances with other companies took the LNWR’s distinctive plum and spilt milk-liveried carriages to cities such as Bristol, Newcastle, Hull, Harwich and even Brighton, so that few areas would not have seen the LNWR.

The company built rolling stock and locomotives at three major centres:

  • Crewe Explain 'Crewe Works' — the greatest locomotive works in Britain (and perhaps the World)
  • Earlestown Explain 'Earlestown', the wagon works
  • Wolverton Explain 'Wolverton', the carriage works

After the First World War the railways of Britain were worn out and beginning to suffer from competition from road traffic. The government forced all companies to merge into four large groups from 1st January 1923 — the LMS, LNER, GWR and the SR. The LNWR joined with the Midland, Lancashire & Yorkshire, Caledonian, Glasgow South Western, Highland, North Staffs, Furness and a few smaller railways to form the London Midland & Scottish Railway. So seventy-five years of tradition ended. Fortunately, thousands of photographs had been taken since the early days of the LNWR and some are shown in this exhibition. They remain the few mementoes we have of a great railway.

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