Complete list of British railway companies? If not, let’s make one.

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Richard Elric

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I’m wondering about if there’s a list of British railway companies out there. If not a complete or semi complete one, let’s make one.

To be included it has to:

Have been an independent company at some point, not just a railway that was 100% worked by another.

Owned rolling stock

Preservation railways don’t count, though if they were a historically a commercial railway, it can go in here.

You can include industrial Railways if you want.
 
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Dr Hoo

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I’m wondering about if there’s a list of British railway companies out there. If not a complete or semi complete one, let’s make one.

To be included it has to:

Have been an independent company at some point, not just a railway that was 100% worked by another.

Owned rolling stock

Preservation railways don’t count, though if they were a historically a commercial railway, it can go in here.

You can include industrial Railways if you want.
Donald Grant’s book, “Directory of the Railway Companies of Great Britain” (649 pages) might be a good start but it would be a breach of copyright to post a scan.
 

John Webb

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The "Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies" by Christopher Awdry (1990 Guild Publishing/Patrick Stephens Ltd) is pretty comprehensive as well. Lists several hundred companies, both those which ended up as part of 'The Big Four' and various independent companies. It's 288 pages long, so not quite as big as the Donald Grant book mentioned above. But it gives you an idea of the scale of undertaking putting such a list together!
 

pdeaves

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What is a 'railway' company? You seem only to want 'owned rolling stock'. Does that mean the ROSCOs are railway companies but TOCs are not?

I spy great differences of opinion on this!
 

PeterC

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What is a 'railway' company? You seem only to want 'owned rolling stock'. Does that mean the ROSCOs are railway companies but TOCs are not?

I spy great differences of opinion on this!
Also are you confining yourself to those with mechanical traction?
 

eastwestdivide

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There's a series of 'family trees' of rail companies forming the big four in the back of the big Cobb GB atlas*, showing which companies merged with which, which got taken over, dates, joint arrangements etc.

*The Railways of Great Britain A Historical Atlas
 

Richard Elric

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What is a 'railway' company? You seem only to want 'owned rolling stock'. Does that mean the ROSCOs are railway companies but TOCs are not?

I spy great differences of opinion on this!

Okay let me explain. When I searched Wikipedia about this, it also included railways that Were never actual separate companies, Like the Mansfield Railway, the East London Railway (A Joint Railway), and the Callander and Oban Railway, amount many others. That’s why I mentioned that.
 

416GSi

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I'm not following your point:-

There was a Mansfield Railway. It was authorised on the 26 July 1910, was 10 miles long and lost its independent existence in 1923 with the grouping into the LNER.
Likewise, the Calendar and Oban Railway was also an independent railway operated from the outset by The Caledonian. Again it lost its independent existence in 1923 with the grouping this time into the LMS.
The East London Railway was still a separate railway company albeit owned by other railway companies

Sorry but in the example's you have cited were independent companies at one stage.
 
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Richard Elric

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I'm not following your point:-

There was a Mansfield Railway. It was authorised on the 26 July 1910, was 10 miles long and lost its independent existence in 1923 with the grouping into the LNER.
Likewise, the Calendar and Oban Railway was also an independent railway operated front the outset by The Caledonian. Again it lost its independent existence in 1923 with the grouping this time into the LMS.
The East London Railway was still a separate railway company albeit owned by other railway companies

Sorry but in the example's you have cited were independent companies at one stage.

I don’t believe any of them ever owned rolling Stock of there own. They were worked by Various Other companies. I could be wrong though.
 

416GSi

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They were separate legal entities and owned the infrastructure. They issued accounts, paid dividends (or not in some cases) and had their own boards of directors. Just because they outsourced the running of their trains to other companies does not mean that they were we not companies in their own right.
 

pdeaves

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They were separate legal entities and owned the infrastructure. They issued accounts, paid dividends (or not in some cases) and had their own boards of directors. Just because they outsourced the running of their trains to other companies does not mean that they were we not companies in their own right.
A modern example of this could be the Heathrow Express (legal name Heathrow Express Operating Company Ltd) that, after a period of running its own trains, now outsources train operation to First Greater Western Ltd (known as Great Western Railway). HEx is still a company in its own right, sets and collects fares, sets policy, does the marketing, etc.
 

Richard Elric

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A modern example of this could be the Heathrow Express (legal name Heathrow Express Operating Company Ltd) that, after a period of running its own trains, now outsources train operation to First Greater Western Ltd (known as Great Western Railway). HEx is still a company in its own right, sets and collects fares, sets policy, does the marketing, etc.

Oh I see now. I wonder how many companies actually operated trains though.
 

416GSi

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Can I suggest that you will have to do some research to answer that question.

My first port of call would be the 'Search Engine', the Archive of the Railway Museum in York. (Still can't get my head around not calling it the National Railway Museum).

Or, if you just want an overview, invest in a copy of either "Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies" by Christopher Awdry or the “Directory of the Railway Companies of Great Britain” by Donald Grant, which are both mentioned above and both interesting sources of information.
 

Richard Elric

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Can I suggest that you will have to do some research to answer that question.

My first port of call would be the 'Search Engine', the Archive of the Railway Museum in York. (Still can't get my head around not calling it the National Railway Museum).

Or, if you just want an overview, invest in a copy of either "Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies" by Christopher Awdry or the “Directory of the Railway Companies of Great Britain” by Donald Grant, which are both mentioned above and both interesting sources of information.
Okay, that’s good to know. Unfortunately I don’t live near York, or the UK for that matter, but if I ever plan a trip there, I’ll stop at the Railway Museum. In the meantime I’ll just stick to Wikipedia and other things.
 

416GSi

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Sorry, I should have seen that you are in the USA.

The problem with the history of UK railways is that its so so complicated. There were a huge number of local schemes which were instigated to get comparatively small towns onto the railway map. Some were worked from the start by bigger companies. Some were worked by the local company and then leased to a bigger one. There were some which were worked by one company and then the working moved to another company see Invergarry and Fort Augustus Railway as an example.

To find out how many actually operated trains is a huge task in itself. I don't think anyone has ever done this. If you do decide to have a go I would be really interested in your conclusions.

As an aside if you haven't been the (National) Railway Museum in York, is really worth a trip in its own right. There are not enough hours in a single day to do more than scratch the surface. Fantastic Museum ... annoying rebrand!
 

Richard Elric

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Sorry, I should have seen that you are in the USA.

The problem with the history of UK railways is that its so so complicated. There were a huge number of local schemes which were instigated to get comparatively small towns onto the railway map. Some were worked from the start by bigger companies. Some were worked by the local company and then leased to a bigger one. There were some which were worked by one company and then the working moved to another company see Invergarry and Fort Augustus Railway as an example.

To find out how many actually operated trains is a huge task in itself. I don't think anyone has ever done this. If you do decide to have a go I would be really interested in your conclusions.

As an aside if you haven't been the (National) Railway Museum in York, is really worth a trip in its own right. There are not enough hours in a single day to do more than scratch the surface. Fantastic Museum ... annoying rebrand!

Indeed I am. I’m making a spreadsheet about it, and I’ve partly completed it, as I’ve included the railways in that were at grouping. I’m also including non-working railways as well. I just need to include the railways that existed before and the present TOCS.
I’m doing something similar with American, Canadian and Mexican Railroads.
 

John Webb

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The "Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies" by Christopher Awdry (1990 Guild Publishing/Patrick Stephens Ltd) is pretty comprehensive as well. Lists several hundred companies, both those which ended up as part of 'The Big Four' and various independent companies. It's 288 pages long, so not quite as big as the Donald Grant book mentioned above. But it gives you an idea of the scale of undertaking putting such a list together!
Sorry, I too had failed to note you were in the USA. If you can get hold of a copy of the above book you would find it of considerable assistance in understanding the complexities of railway development in the UK. It briefly notes when companies were set up, and if that was with another company, who ran their trains if they didn't do it themselves and any mergers that took place. Charts at the rear of the book show how numerous companies slowly merged together over the years until "The Big Four" were formed in "The Grouping" of 1922/23.
 

Taunton

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As ever, there were all sorts of combinations. Is the CLC included? They had their own coaches, but not locomotives, which were principally provided by the Great Central, although running from sheds owned by CLC, which itself was owned by three other railway companies. Because two of these went into the LNER and one into the LMS, it stayed as a separate organisation run this way until 1948.

So if we include companies with their own coaches but not locomotives, what about the West Coast Joint? They were jointly owned and had their own coaches but used their owners' locomotives as well. But they ran on their owners' rails.

There were a lot of separate companies which were so completely worked and integrated by a major company that you would never have known. The 1923 grouping sorted most of these out and folded them in, but they continue - two sections of the current DLR network in London are actually owned by separate companies which produce accounts and shareholder dividends in various ways, but again you would never know as it's worked as one system.

So I think the point is it's hard to draw finite boundaries. At the end of the day it's down to the editor of the list.
 
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