London, Midland and Scottish Railway


1 January 1923


31 December 1947

Created by

Railways Act 1921

Abolished by

Transport Act 1947


London and North Western Railway
Midland Railway
Caledonian Railway
Highland Railway
Glasgow & South Western Railway
North Staffordshire Railway
Furness Railway


British Railways


Euston House, London

Route mileage

7,790 miles (12,537 km)

Non railway interests

Road haulage

The London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) was a British railway company. It was formed on 1 January 1923 under the Railways Act of 1921, which required the grouping of over 120 separate railway companies into just four. The companies merged into the LMS included the London and North Western Railway, Midland Railway, several Scottish railway companies (including the Caledonian Railway) and numerous other, smaller ventures.

The resulting company was an unwieldy construction, with numerous interests other than railway operations. Besides being the world's largest transport organisation, it was also the largest commercial undertaking in the British Empire and the United Kingdom's second largest employer, after the Post Office. The LMS also claimed to be the largest joint stock organisation in the world.

In 1938, the LMS operated 6,870 miles (11,056 km) of railway (excluding its lines in Northern Ireland), but its profitability was generally disappointing, with a rate of return of only 2.7%. Along with the other members of the "Big Four" British railway companies (GWR, LNER and SR), the LMS was nationalised on 1 January 1948, becoming part of the state-owned British Railways.

The LMS was the largest of the Big Four railway companies and the only one to operate in all parts of the United Kingdom: England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.



The Railways Act of 1921 created four large railway companies which were in effect geographical monopolies, albeit with competition at their boundaries, and with some lines either reaching into competitor territory, or being jointly operated.

The LMS operated services in and around London, the Midlands, the North West of England, Mid/North Wales, and Scotland. The company also operated a separate network of lines in Northern Ireland.

The principal routes were the West Coast Main Line and the Midland Main Line, which had been the main routes of the two largest constituent companies, the London and North Western Railway and the Midland Railway respectively.

Joint lines

Main article: Joint Railway

The LMS operated a number of lines jointly with the other main railway companies, a situation which arose when the former joint owners of a route were placed into different post-grouping companies. Most of these were situated at or near the boundaries between two or more of the companies, however there were some notable examples which extended beyond this hinterland zone.

Together with the London and North Eastern Railway, the LMS ran the former Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway network. Exceeding 183 miles (295 km), this was the largest jointly operated network in Great Britain in terms of route mileage, and extended from Peterborough to the East Anglian coast. The M&GN was wholly incorporated into the LNER in 1936.

The LMS also operated a significant joint network with the Southern Railway, in the shape of the former Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway. This network connected Bath and Bournemouth, and wound its way through territory nominally allocated to a third railway company, the Great Western.

Through the former Midland Railway holdings, the LMS together with the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) jointly owned the County Donegal Railways Joint Committee lines.[10]

Areas of competition

Being geographically the largest, and the most central of the four main post-grouping railway companies, the LMS shared numerous boundaries with both the LNER and GWR, although its overlap with the Southern Railway was limited due to the general lack of direct routes through London.

Competition with the LNER was mainly in terms of the premium London to Scotland traffic, with the rival LMS (West Coast) and LNER (East Coast) routes competing to provide ever better standards of passenger comfort and faster journey times. The LNER also competed with the LMS for traffic between London, the East MidlandsSouth Yorkshire andManchester, with the former Midland main line from St Pancras (LMS) and Great Central Main Line from Marylebone (LNER) both providing express services between these destinations.

The London to Birmingham corridor was fiercely contested with the LMS running expresses over its West Coast Main Line via Rugby, and the Great Western Railway running services via Banbury.

Northern Ireland

Further information: Northern Counties Committee

The LMS was also the only one of the Big Four companies to operate rail services in Northern Ireland, serving most major settlements in the region.

On 1 July 1903, the Midland Railway took over the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway and operated it under the name of Midland Railway (Northern Counties Committee). On grouping, the network became part of the LMS, again operating under the name of the Northern Counties Committee, and consisted of 201 miles (323 km) of 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) gauge track with a further 63 miles (101 km) of 3 ft (914 mm) gauge line.

Geographical oddities

In 1912, the Midland Railway purchased the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway which operated between London Fenchurch Street and Shoeburyness, with a loop servingTilbury. This part of the country later came under the control of the LNER, although this particular route, being part of the Midland Railway, was incorporated into the LMS. This arrangement did however provide a choice for residents of Southend, who could take services from either Southend Victoria to London Liverpool Street or from Southend Central to Fenchurch Street.



The LMS was formed from the following major companies:

There were also some 24 subsidiary railways, leased or worked by the above companies, and a large number of joint railways, including the UK's largest Joint Railway, the Midland & Great Northern, and one of the most famous, the Somerset & Dorset.[9] The LMS was the minority partner (with the LNER) in the Cheshire Lines Committee.

In Ireland there were three railways:

  • Dundalk, Newry and Greenore Railway 26.5 miles (42 km)
  • Northern Counties Committee 265.25 miles (426 km)
  • Joint Midland and Great Northern of Ireland Railway 91 miles (146 km), with interests in Ireland

Most of the above operated in what became Northern Ireland

The total route mileage of the LMS in 1923 was 7790 miles (12,537 km).

For all railways see List of constituents of the LMS.

Early history

The early history of the LMS was dominated by infighting between its two largest constituents and previously rivals, the Midland and the North Western, each of which believed their company's way was the right – and only – way of doing business. Generally, the Midland prevailed, with the adoption of many Midland practices such as the livery of Crimson Lakefor passenger locomotives and rolling stock. Notable was the continuation of the Midland Railway's small-engine policy (see Locomotives of the Midland Railway).

The LMS also implemented a novel management structure, breaking with British railway tradition, and mirroring contemporary US management practice, appointing a President and Vice-Presidents. On 4 January 1926 Josiah Stamp was appointed First President of the Executive, the equivalent of a Chief Executive in modern organisational structures. He added the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors to his portfolio in January 1927, succeeding Sir Guy Granet.

The Stanier revolution

The arrival of the new chief mechanical engineer, William Stanier, who was brought in from the Great Western Railway by Josiah Stamp in 1932, heralded a change. Stanier introduced new ideas rather than continuing the company's internal conflict.


The war-damaged LMS was nationalised in 1948 by the Transport Act 1947, becoming part of British Railways. It formed the London Midland Region and part of the Scottish Region. British Railways transferred the lines in Northern Ireland to the Ulster Transport Authority in 1949. The London Midland & Scottish Railway Company continued to exist as a legal entity for nearly two years after Nationalisation, being formally wound up on 23 December 1949. The lines in Great Britain were rationalised through closure in the 1950s to 70s but the main routes survive and some have been developed for 125 mph inter-city services.

Railway operations

Despite having widespread interests in a number of commercial areas, the LMS was first and foremost a railway organisation. It operated in all four constituent countries of the United Kingdom, and in England its operations penetrated 32 of the 40 counties. The company operated around 7,000 route miles of railway line, servicing 2,944 goods depots and 2,588 passenger stations, using 291,490 freight vehicles, 20,276 passenger vehicles and 9,914 locomotives. The company directly employed 263,000 staff, and through its annual coal consumption of over six and a half million tons, could claim to indirectly employ a further 26,500 coal miners.

Commercial organisation

For nearly ten years after its formation, the LMS had been run using a similar organisational structure to one of its constituents, the Midland Railway. In practice this meant that the commercial managers found themselves subservient to the needs of the operating departments. This changed in 1932 when a major restructuring was completed, replacing the traditional board of directors with an executive headed by a president, supported by vice presidents each with responsibility for a specific area. Ernest Lemon, who had briefly held the office of Chief Mechanical Engineer pending the arrival of William Stanier became Vice President (Railway traffic, operating & commercial), with separate chief operating and chief commercial managers of equal status reporting to him. Railway operations were directed by Charles Byrom, a veteran officer of the LNWR, while commercial activities were headed by Ashton Davies, formerly of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.

Davies created a commercial research section, increased the sales force and provided them with specialist training. The emphasis of the organisation switched from operators dictating what was reasonable to the commercial managers asking what was possible in order to maximise sales opportunities. Thirty five district managers were appointed to oversee sales through the company's goods depots, passenger stations and key dock facilities. There was even sales representation in the Irish Free State, certain European countries and North America. A monthly newsletter was produced entitled Quota News, and trophies were awarded to the best performing districts and salesmen. In order to provide maximum capacity during times of peak demand, the operating department re-organised maintenance schedules to maximise the availability of locomotives and rolling stock, and trained staff to step into key roles; firemen trained as drivers and locomotive cleaners trained to replace firemen.

Numerous special fares were introduced to encourage travel, develop niche markets and overcome competitors. The cheap day return ticket offered return travel at a price usually equivalent to the single fare, although in areas with rival bus services they were sometimes offered at less than the single fare. Companies holding large freight accounts with the LMS received reduced price season tickets for nominated employees, while commercial travellers, anglers and conveyors of racing pigeons were all tempted with special offers.

Passenger miles rose quite dramatically, from a low point of 6,500 million in 1932 to 8,500 million by 1937, while at the same time the number of coaches required was reduced through improved maintenance and more efficient utilisation.

Charter and excursion traffic

Charter and excursion trains were a significant source of revenue and the LMS became a specialist in the movement of large numbers of people, with locomotives and rolling stock often kept in operation just to service such seasonal traffic. In one year, the LMS ran 43 special trains to take spectators to the Grand National at Aintree, and a further 55 for the Cup Final at Wembley. Longer running events demanded operations on a much larger scale, with the Glasgow Empire Exhibition requiring 1,800 special trains, with a further 1,456 run in connection with the Blackpool Illuminations. The number of people moved was huge, with over 2.2 million holidaymakers arriving in Blackpool between the start of July and the end of September alone. Besides these mass-market events, the company also ran regular tourist excursions to a variety of destinations, such as Oban in the Scottish highlands, Keswick in the English Lake District, and even the First World War battlefields in Belgium, by way of the Tilbury to Dunkerque ferry service and the Belgian railways.

Such was the importance of such excursion traffic that a special department was established in 1929 and oversaw the expansion from 7,500 special trains in that year to nearly 22,000 in 1938.

Scheduled services

However important the excursion traffic was, it was the ordinary scheduled services which had to be the focus of efforts to improve the fortunes of the LMS. A number of initiatives were introduced, with the aim of making train travel more attractive and encouraging business growth. Services were accelerated, and better quality rolling stock was introduced and from 24 September 1928 sleeping cars were provided for third class ticket holders for the first time. The effect of these improvements was significant, with receipts from passenger traffic increasing by £2.9 million (£1.31 billion as of 2013), between 1932 and 1938.

A number of premium services were offered, culminating in 1937 with the launch of the Coronation Scot, which featured streamlined locomotives hauling a nine coach train of specially constructed stock between London Euston and Glasgow Central in six and a half hours.

Most other major cities on the network were linked by trains with names which would become famous in railway circles including the "Thames-Clyde Express" between London St. Pancras and Glasgow St. Enoch, "The Palatine" between London St. Pancras and Manchester Central, "The Irish Mail" from London Euston to Holyhead and "The Pines Express" conveying portions from Liverpool and Manchester to Bournemouth.

Freight services

Freight accounted for around 60% of LMS revenue, and was even more varied than passenger services, catering for a range of goods from fresh perishables such as milk, fish and meat through to bulk minerals and small consignments sent point to point between individuals and companies.

Particularly notable were the TotonBrent coal trains, which took coal from the Nottinghamshire coalfield to London.

Traction and rolling stock


The LMS owned and operated a number of railway works, all of which were inherited from constituent companies. Between them these sites constructed locomotives, coaching stock, multiple units and freight wagons, as well as a number of non-rolling stock items required for the everyday running of the railway.

Two facilities were located in Derby, one known as Derby Loco and one as Carriage and Wagon. The former was opened in the 1840s by the North MidlandMidland Counties andBirmingham & Derby railway companies to meet their joint requirements for locomotive, carriage and wagon construction and maintenance. The latter site was opened in the 1860s by the Midland Railway as part of a reorganisation of facilities in Derby and left the original site to concentrate on locomotive manufacture and repair. The Midland Railway also had works at Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, which had been inherited from the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway.

The LNWR also contributed several works sites to the LMS. Crewe Works was opened in 1840 by the Grand Junction Railway and by the time of grouping was the locomotive works for the LNWR. Wolverton works in Buckinghamshire had been established by the London and Birmingham Railway in the 1830s, and since 1862 (when all locomotive works had transferred to Crewe) had been the LNWR's carriage works. In 1922, one year prior to the formation of the LMS, the LNWR had absorbed the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, including their works at Horwich in Lancashire, which had opened in 1886.

St. Rollox works, north east of Glasgow, had been built in 1856 by the Caledonian Railway, while Stoke works in Staffordshire were established in 1864 by the North Staffordshire Railway. Both were absorbed into the LMS with their parent companies, and while the former became the main workshops for the Northern Division of the LMS, the latter works were wound down, closing in 1930, all work being transferred to nearby Crewe.

Smaller workshop facilities were also transferred to the LMS by other constituent companies, including at Barrow-in-Furness (Furness Railway), Bow (North London Railway),Kilmarnock (Glasgow and South Western Railway) and Inverness (Highland Railway). The table below shows all major works taken over by the LMS upon formation.

Works Pre-grouping company Type Closed by LMS
Barassie G&SWR Carriage & Wagon
Barrow-in-Furness FR Locomotive 1930
Bow NLR Locomotive
Bromsgrove MR Wagon
Crewe LNWR Locomotive
Derby Carriage & Wagon MR Carriage & Wagon
Derby Loco MR Locomotive
Earlestown LNWR Wagon
Horwich LNWR (L&Y) Locomotive
Kilmarnock G&SWR Locomotive
Lochgorm (Inverness) HR Locomotive, Carriage & Wagon
Maryport M&CR Locomotive c1925
Newton Heath LNWR (L&Y) Carriage & Wagon c1932
Stoke-on-Trent NSR Locomotive 1930
St. Rollox CR Locomotive, Carriage & Wagon
Wolverton LNWR Carriage


Coaching stock

Most railway carriages were constructed by fitting together component parts which had been roughly machined to larger dimensions than required, which were then cut to the required size and joined together by skilled coachbuilders. Reid's new method involved the use of templates or "jigs" to mass produce components to a set pattern and size. Once these had been checked any example of a specific part could be used interchangeably with any other of the same type. The technique was applied to any item which could be manufactured in large numbers (as there were significant costs in producing the initial jigs) such as doors, ventilators, windows and seats. The LMS inherited a wide variety of passenger rolling stock from its constituent companies, and appointed Robert Whyte Reid, and ex-Midland Railway man, as the head of its Carriage department. Reid had already started to introduce more efficient carriage building practises at the Derby Carriage and Wagon works of the Midland Railway prior to grouping and these same practises were soon introduced to the carriage and wagon works of the former LNWR at Wolverton and the L&YR at Newton Heath.

The natural progression was to streamline the assembly process and the company introduced a method known as Progressive Construction. In this process the mass-produced parts were combined into “unit assemblies”, each of which was a major sub-component of the finished carriage such as side panels, carriage ends or the roof. The workshops were organised on the “flow-line” principle, similar to a modern assembly line, and the unit assemblies were taken to workstations, where the precision machining of the mass-produced parts ensured they all fitted accurately into position, building into a complete carriage as the unit moved along the flow line. The technique was already in use in Derby prior to grouping, and was adopted in Wolverton during 1925, with Newton Heath following two years later. By using this method, the time taken to construct a typical carriage fell from six weeks to six days and by 1931 Derby and Wolverton were able to handle the entire LMS carriage building workload, and production at Newton Heath ceased.

Freight wagons


Each of the constituent companies of the LMS had their own liveries for locomotives and rolling stock. The board of directors of the LMS was dominated by former Midland Railway officers, and the company adopted the "crimson lake" livery for coaching stock as had been used by the Midland and Glasgow & South Western Railways prior to grouping (with the North Staffordshire Railway using a very similar shade). The livery worked well, proving to be hard wearing and practical.


Technical innovation


The LMS operated a number of suburban lines using electric traction, in and around London, Liverpool, Manchester and Lancashire.

In the Liverpool area, lines were electrified using a third rail, energised at 630 V dc. Routes from Liverpool Exchange to Southport andAintree and from Aintree to Ormskirk were already completed prior to the formation of the LMS. Lines from Birkenhead Park to West Kirby and New Brighton were added to this network in 1938.Schemes in the London area generally used the four-rail system in use by tube and sub-surface railways (such as the Metropolitan Railway). Lines from Bow to BarkingEuston to Watford JunctionBroad Street to Richmond and a number of related branches and connecting lines were already electrified when the LMS came into existence, although the LMS did extend electrification from Barking to Upminster in 1932.

In Manchester, the line from Bury to Manchester Victoria had already been electrified by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway using a side-contact, third rail system. In conjunction with the LNER, the lines of the former Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railwaywere electrified using the 1500 V dc overhead line system, opening on 11 May 1931.

Finally the route between Lancaster and Heysham via Morecambe had been electrified by the Midland Railway using a 6600 V ac overhead system, as early as 1908.

Further information: Suburban electrification of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway=== All-steel carriages===

In 1926, the LMS introduced its “all-steel carriage”, which represented a significant departure from previous carriage construction. Previously carriages had been built with wood or steel-plated wood bodies, mounted on heavy underframes. The all-steel carriages differed in that they consisted of a steel tube or box girder, which not only formed the body but also formed the load-bearing part of the carriage, meaning that a heavy underframe was not required. The new technique also meant that the carriages were stronger under collision conditions, as proved during an accident at Dinwoodie – Wamphray on 25 October 1928 when the leading “all-steel” carriage absorbed most of the impact. Construction of the carriages was carried out for the LMS by external companies, largely to provide work for them during a difficult economic period,[38] but within a couple of years the company returned to more conventional construction methods, as it could no longer justify using external contractors due to efficiency improvements within its own workshops, which were set up to produce carriages of more traditional configuration.


Non-railway interests


The LMS owned many canals, including the Montgomeryshire CanalEllesmere Canal and Chester Canal. Many were abandoned by Act of Parliament, instigated by LMS. Those not abandoned passed to the British Transport Commission, at nationalisation; and ownership subsequently transferred to the British Waterways Board.


Ships inherited from the Midland Railway.The LMS acquired numerous docks, harbours and piers from its predecessors. These ranged in size from major ports at Barrow-in-Furness and Grangemouth through ferry harbours such as HolyheadHeyshamStranraer and Fleetwood to much smaller facilities including piers on the Thames and Clyde.

Ship Launched Tonnage (GRT) Notes
Antrim 1904 2,100 Sold in 1928 to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. Scrapped at Preston in November 1936.[
City of Belfast 1893 1,055 Bought from Barrow Steam Navigation Co Ltd in 1907. Sold in 1925 to a Greek owner, renamedNicolaos Togias. Renamed Kephallina in 1933. Sank on 13 August 1941 off the Egyptian coast.
Duchess of Devonshire 1897 1,265 Sold in 1928 to Bland Line, Gibraltar, renamed Gibel Dersa. Scrapped in 1949 at Málaga, Spain.
Londonderry 1904 2,086 Sold in 1927 to Angleterre-Lorraine-Alsace, renamed Flamand. Scrapped at Altenwerder, Germany in 1937.
Wyvern 1905 232 Built as a tug, used for pleasure excursions from Heysham to Fleetwood until the Second World War. Scrapped in 1960.

The LMS also inherited docks at Goole.[48]

Further information: List of Shipping facilities of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway=== Road transport===

In 1933, along with the other three main line railways, the LMS purchased the Hay's Wharf Cartage Company Ltd., the owners of Pickfords, and Carter Paterson. Subsequently, the LMS acquired Joseph Nall & Co. of Manchester and a 51% stake in Wordie & Co. of Glasgow. The LMS operated a road haulage fleet consisting of 29,754 road vehicles.


Further information: List of Hotels of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway

The range of hotels was extensive ranging from large resort and city centre hotels to much smaller provincial establishments. One of the most famous was the Midland Hotel in Morecambe, which had been rebuilt as an Art Deco landmark, as had the Queens Hotel in Leeds. While most were open all year round, a number opened for only particular months in the year, to coincide with local tourist seasons.The LMS Hotels & Catering Service, apart from providing catering cars on trains and refreshment facilities at stations also operated a chain of nearly 30 hotels throughout the United Kingdom. Just prior to World War II the department employed 8,000 staff, served over 50 million customers per annum and grossed more than £3 million in receipts (£138 million as of 2013), from the combined hotel and catering operations. The scale of the undertaking enabled the LMS to claim that they operated the largest chain of hotels in the British Empire.

Popular culture

London band Silvery cited their name was a contraction of the LMS 'Black And Silver Livery' as applied to the 1940s British Rail Class D16/1 diesel locomotives 10000 and 10001, a photograph of which is featured in the booklet of their 2008 debut album 'Thunderer & Excelsior'.

Notable people

Chairmen of the Board of Director


Chief Mechanical Engineers

Other notable people


The name of the LMS was recently revived by Govia in the form of the train operating company London Midland which operates services primarily around the West Midlands and services north to Liverpool and south to London.