London & Birmingham Railway 1838 - what services were operated?

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DerekC

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Does anyone know, or can recommend the best source of information about the services initially operated by the London & Birmingham Railway in 1838?
 
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Senex

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In the absence of a trip to Kew, it's the British Newspaper Archive that helps ... Here's the timetable advertised in the Sun (London) for 8 September 1838:

1622828866214.png
 

LNW-GW Joint

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The London & North Western Railway (a history) by M.C.Reed (1996, Transport Publishers) is excellent.
It covers the original constituents (L&B, GJR, M&B) in some detail.
Tells you how freight on the L&B was initially contracted out to private carriers who paid tolls to run their trains on the L&B.
This included Pickfords and Chaplin & Horne, who were carriers on the parallel Grand Union Canal.
That policy lasted till 1847, after the merger that created the LNWR (the GJR carried freight on its own account).
The private carriers continued to provide local road collection and delivery services for the LNWR after that (arrangements which lasted into the BR era).

Opening dates were:
Euston-Boxmoor 29 July 1837
Boxmoor-Tring 16 Oct 1837
Tring-Denbigh Hall 9 Apr 1838 (also Rugby-Curzon St)
Denbigh Hall-Rugby 20 Aug 1838 (single line through Kilsby tunnel)
full line Euston-Birmingham 17 Sept 1838, journey time "5 hours", with a refreshment stop at Wolverton

Queen Victoria acceded to the throne on 20 June 1837, but the line was largely planned and built during the reign of William IV.
Meanwhile, the GWR opened its railway from Paddington to Maidenhead on 4 June 1838.
 
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S&CLER

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I thought the reprint of the first Bradshaw (19th of Tenth Month, 1839) might include it, but on checking it, I see that it only covers the northern railways. The first Bradshaw to contain tables for the whole country was the second issue, dated 25th of Tenth Month 1839. Two other books on my shelves are no more informative about train services: David Jenkinson's The London and Birmingham, and the centenary brochure published by the LMS in 1938, A Century of Progress, London and Birmingham 1838-1938.
 

DerekC

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Thanks all, that already contains some really helpful information and I am following up on the leads suggested.

@Senex - the Wikipedia article on the subject suggests that passenger trains fell into two categories. Faster trains calling at "first class stations" only (Watford, Tring, Leighton, Wolverton, Blisworth, Weedon, Rugby and Coventry) and slower trains calling at all eighteen intermediate stations. The "Sun" extract you posted indicates "First" and "Mixed" trains - do you think these classes were the fasts and slows?

@S&CLER - a rough idea of services from the 25/10/1839 Bradshaw would be very helpful.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Some hints at operation from Reed's book:
The 5-hour schedule was a company special on the opening of the full line in August 1838.
Regular "fast" trains (limited stop) took 6 hours, with stopping services 30 minutes longer.
3rd class was introduced 5 Oct 1840, one train a day, on an 8-hour schedule.
The best timings came down to 4 and then 3 hours by 1845.
Freight started at the beginning of 1839, but had been used earlier on the southern section when the Grand Junction Canal suffered low water at Tring, with canal cargoes transferred to rail.
Locomotive banking was used between Euston and Camden in 1837 before the cable haulage system was ready, and continued throughout on the 2 tracks without cables.
Cable haulage was abandoned altogether in 1844.
The Euston approaches were built 4-track as it was expected the GWR would also use Euston as its terminus.
 

Dr Hoo

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There is an interim timetable (with the Rugby <-> Denbigh Hall coach link) in Volume 1 of Richard Foster's history of Birmingham New Street (and Curzon Street); for 4 June 1838.

Quite a lot of other details spread through this book, including preceding stage coach services, Grand Junction Railway as well, obviously focussed on Birmingham.
 

S&CLER

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Thanks all, that already contains some really helpful information and I am following up on the leads suggested.

@Senex - the Wikipedia article on the subject suggests that passenger trains fell into two categories. Faster trains calling at "first class stations" only (Watford, Tring, Leighton, Wolverton, Blisworth, Weedon, Rugby and Coventry) and slower trains calling at all eighteen intermediate stations. The "Sun" extract you posted indicates "First" and "Mixed" trains - do you think these classes were the fasts and slows?

@S&CLER - a rough idea of services from the 25/10/1839 Bradshaw would be very helpful.
Sorry, it is only the first issue reprint which I have, and that as I said does not contain the lines in the midlands or south. As far as I know, the second issue of Bradshaw has never been reprinted.
 

etr221

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According to Wishaw (1842), Mail trains (twice daily by then) were allowed 5 hours, 'First class' trains 5 1/4 hours, and 'Mixed trains' 5 1/2 hours (presumably 'all stations' and both 1st and 2nd class accommodation). The third class train 8 3/4 hours (fare: 14s - a week's wage for a workman?). Locomotives changed at Wolverton! By then there were 14 trains daily except Sundays from London: 10 to Birmaingham (2 Mail, 1 First, 1 Third), 2 to Aylesbury (but the Aylesbury Railway had 3 from London?), and 1 each to Wolverton and Rugby.
 

webbfan

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The recent biography of George Carr Glynn "Railwayman and Banker" by David Hodgkins is an excellent source. Carr Glynn (later Lord Wolverton) was the first chairman of the London Birmingham Railway and then continued with the LNWR. The formation of the railway is described as well as the later development - all the fun of the mergers, fights and discussions. Reeds book possibly has more information but it is a very dry read whereas this is a pleasure. Must admit skimmed through the bank (Glynns bank as was) parts as far too complex but still quite interesting. Always thought directors were just rich fellows that had a pleasant meeting every now and then, but these fellows really got involved with the day to day operating as the buisness developed until they had a proper company structure.
 

S&CLER

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Remember that these early timetables quoted local times, as there was not yet a standard national time. Birmingham time was 7 mins 30 secs behind London time, Harrow 1 minute.
 

Senex

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Thanks all, that already contains some really helpful information and I am following up on the leads suggested.

@Senex - the Wikipedia article on the subject suggests that passenger trains fell into two categories. Faster trains calling at "first class stations" only (Watford, Tring, Leighton, Wolverton, Blisworth, Weedon, Rugby and Coventry) and slower trains calling at all eighteen intermediate stations. The "Sun" extract you posted indicates "First" and "Mixed" trains - do you think these classes were the fasts and slows?

@S&CLER - a rough idea of services from the 25/10/1839 Bradshaw would be very helpful.
Faster trains calling at first-class stations only and other trains calling at all stations was pretty normal practice at the time (with, on some lines, trains stoping at places other than "normal" stations too). The usage both in the L&B ads and the Grand Junction ads of the period does indeed suggest that "First" meant trains conveying first- and mail-class vehicles only, and that "Mixed" didn;t have its later passenger and goods meaning but referred to trains including second-class accommodation for passengers. I too would strongly recomment Malcolm Reed's book, along with the contemporaty Whishaw (available via Internet Archive). And it's also well worth looking at "Osborne's London and Bimringham Railway Guide 1840", also available on the Internet Archive. Here's another departures-list, for the summer of 1839, from Aris's Birmingham Gazette, 17 June 1839. Incidentally, it's many years since I looked at the L&B minute-books, but I've got notes to the effect that back in 1831/2 there was some debate touching on whether to go for four tracks throughout, or at least to buy the land for four tracks. Neither happened, of course (though the late rLNW might have been very happy indeed if that had been done!).
L&B June 1839 PTT.png
 

Taunton

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Carriage of "parcels" was a significant part of very early services. The same had applied to the preceding stagecoaches; if you read the classic book "Tom Brown's Schooldays", which includes a lengthy, fascinating, and doubtless accurate, description of travel on the key stagecoach from London to Rugby, only a few years before the L&B opened, there seemed more parcel than passenger trade for the coach.

Hughes, the author, was at Rugby School from 1834 to 1842, so likely would have been a pioneer L&B passenger, but unlike the stagecoach it never gets a mention in the book.
 

webbfan

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Remember that these early timetables quoted local times, as there was not yet a standard national time. Birmingham time was 7 mins 30 secs behind London time, Harrow 1 minute.
Notice also the lack of arrival times, very much a case of if we don't say when due to arrive then no-one can complain if late
 
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