great western railway history

Secondly, he selected a route, north of the Marlborough Downs, which had no significant towns but which offered potential connections to Oxford and Gloucester. Most coaches were generally painted in variations of a chocolate-brown and cream livery, however they were plain brown or red until 1864 and from 1908 to 1922. If you want to find out more, please read our Cookie Policy. THE Midland Great Western Railway (MGWR) was the third largest Irish gauge railway company in Ireland. This accident prompted Parliament to pass the 1844 Railway Regulation Act requiring railway companies to provide better carriages for passengers. The old Great Western Railway spins – The old Great Western Railway makes [7] Involvement in major earth-moving works seems to have fed Clark's interest in geology and archaeology and he, anonymously, authored two guidebooks on the railway: one illustrated with lithographs by John Cooke Bourne;[8] the other, a critique of Brunel's methods and the broad gauge.[9]. The broad-gauge South Wales Railway amalgamated with the GWR in 1862, as did the West Midland Railway, which brought with it the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway, a line that had been conceived as another broad-gauge route to the Midlands but which had been built as standard gauge after several battles, both political and physical. [8] J. M. W. Turner painted his Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway in 1844 after looking out of the window of his train on Maidenhead Railway Bridge,[103] and in 1862 William Powell Frith painted The Railway Station, a large crowd scene on the platform at Paddington. The increase in the size of ships and the gradual silting of the River Avon had made Liverpoolan increasingly attractive port, and with a Liverpool to London rail line under construction in the 1830s Bristol's status was threatened. The 1930s brought hard times but the company remained in fair financial health despite the Depression. This line was extended westwards through Exeter[35] and Plymouth[13] to reach Truro[14] and Penzance,[15] the most westerly railway station in England. This produced a smoother track and the whole assembly proved cheaper than using conventional sleepers for broad-gauge track, although this advantage was lost with standard- or mixed-gauge lines because of the higher ratio of timber to length of line. [10], On 17 December 1840, the line from London reached a temporary terminus at Wootton Bassett Road west of Swindon and 80.25 miles (129 km) from Paddington. Name and number plates were generally of polished brass with a black background, and chimneys often had copper rims or "caps". [17], Some other notable structures were added when smaller companies were amalgamated into the GWR. [105] It was also immortalised in Bob Godfrey's animated film Great, which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film of 1975 which tells the story of Brunel's engineering accomplishments. Roden’s comprehensive new history of this remarkable railway company tells the story of nothing less than the opening-up of the isolated Southwest of England to the trade and tourism of … The Great Western Railway originated from the desire of Bristol merchants to maintain their city as the second port of the country and the chief one for American trade. Many other heritage railways and museums also have GWR locomotives or rolling stock in use or on display. [79], The GWR first painted its locomotives a dark holly green but this was changed to middle chrome or Brunswick green for most of its existence. [55] Between Chippenham and Bath is Box Tunnel, the longest railway tunnel driven by that time. From the time of Armstrong's arrival all new locomotives – both broad and standard – were given numbers, including broad-gauge ones that had previously carried names when they were acquired from other railways. [44], Brunel envisaged the GWR continuing across the Atlantic Ocean and built the SS Great Western to carry the railway's passengers from Bristol to New York. The name later reappeared on some BR diesels. The history of the Great Western Railway in Warwickshire was, like the London Midland Railway, a story of competing independent railway companies which over time became the GWR. It was not until the coal-mining and industrial districts of Wales and the Midlands were reached that goods traffic became significant; in 1856 the Ruabon Coal Company signed an agreement with the GWR to transport coal to London at special rates which nonetheless was worth at least £40,000 each year to the railway. Author merthyr.history@gmail.com Posted on 19 May 2020 19 May 2020 Tags Abercanaid, Anthony Hill, Brandy Bridge, Great Western Railway, Llwyn-yr-Eos Bridge, Merthyr Tydfil Borough Council, Plymouth Ironworks, Plymouth Railway, Plymouth Weir, River Taff, Taff Vale Railway Leave a comment on Merthyr’s Bridges: The Brandy Bridge – part 2 [25], Once the GWR was in control of the whole line from London to Penzance, it set about converting the remaining broad-gauge tracks. This grew to become part of the Railway Air Services. With huge capital infusions from London and Continental investors, the road opened for business in August 1865 along its entire 388 mile route from Salamanca in Upstate New York to Dayton Ohio. It also operated many suburban and rural services, some operated by steam railmotors or autotrains. GWR opened the original Grandpont terminus station in Oxford in 1844 on what is now the corner of Marlborough Road and Western Road. The GWR extended into the West Midlands in competition with the Midland and the London and North Western Railway. The GWR was called by some "God's Wonderful Railway" and by others the "Great Way Round" but it was famed as the "Holiday Line", taking many people to English and Bristol Channel resorts in the West Country as well as the far southwest of England such as Torquay in Devon, Minehead in Somerset, and Newquay and St Ives in Cornwall. [72] The perishables trains running in the nineteenth century used wagons built to the same standards as passenger coaches, with vacuum brakes and large wheels to allow fast running. These include the South Devon Railway sea wall,[57] the Cornwall Railway's Royal Albert Bridge,[58] and Barmouth Bridge on the Cambrian Railways. The wrought iron and glass roof is iconic and still remains to this day, although the glass was replaced by polycarbonate glazing panels in the 1990s. Special vehicles included sleeping cars, restaurant cars and slip coaches. [76] Dean introduced a policy in 1895 of giving passenger tender locomotives both numbers and names. This is seen not only at the large stations such as Paddington (built 1851,[108] extended 1915)[109] and Temple Meads (1840,[110] 1875[111] & 1935)[112] but other places such as Bath Spa (1840),[113] Torquay (1878),[114] Penzance (1879),[115] Truro (1897),[116] and Newton Abbot (1927). [42] royalty (Windsor);[43] or just goods traffic (Carbis Wharf). The Bristol Channel resorts of Wales and the West Country such as Minehead or the cliffs of Exmoor had been very remote from other parts of England before the advent of the GWR. This article is about the company 1833–1947. Buy now and save money with cheap train tickets. The Great Western Railway (and related lines) Of the early railways in South Wales, the first were the lines of the Ironmasters, only one held itself aloof from this trade. By now the gauge war was lost and mixed gauge was brought to Paddington in 1861, allowing through passenger trains from London to Chester. The principal new lines opened were:[27], The generally conservative GWR made other improvements in the years before the World War I such as restaurant cars, better conditions for third class passengers, steam heating of trains, and faster express services. [31] GWR designs of locomotives and rolling stock continued to be built for a while and the region maintained its own distinctive character, even painting for a while its stations and express trains in a form of chocolate and cream.[32][33]. The amalgam of railroads that became known as The Atlantic and Great Western Railway Company (A&GW) would stand by itself. [106], Sir John Betjeman mentions the GWR clearly in his poem Distant Views of a Provincial Town:[107]. The Bristol and Exeter Railway amalgamated with the GWR on 1 January 1876. There were more than 550 "station truck" workings running on timetabled goods trains carrying small consignments to and from specified stations, and 200 "pick up" trucks that collected small loads from groups of stations. [56] Several years later, the railway opened the even longer Severn Tunnel to carry a new line between England and Wales beneath the River Severn. An "automatic train control" system was introduced from 1906 which was a safety system that applied a train's brakes if it passed a danger signal. [37], A network of cross-country routes linked these main lines, and there were also many and varied branch lines. The increase in the size of ships and the gradual silting of the River Avon had made Liverpool an increasingly attractive port, and with a Liverpool to London rail line under construction in the 1830s Bristol's status was threatened. [118] Even where stations have been rebuilt, many fittings such as signs, manhole covers and seats can still be found with "GWR" cast into them. [86], Most early wagons were four-wheeled open vehicles, although a few six-wheeled vehicles were provided for special loads. [47] Dean retired in 1902 to be replaced by George Jackson Churchward, who introduced the familiar 4-6-0 locomotives. Goods wagons were painted red but this was later changed to mid-grey. [67] Passenger-rated vans carried parcels, horses, and milk at express speeds. A 7 1⁄4-mile (12 km) extension took the line to Faringdon Road on 20 July 1840. The Cheap Trains Act 1883 resulted in the provision of workmen's trains at special low fares at certain times of the day.[3]. [51], More than 150 years after its creation, the original main line has been described by an historian as "one of the masterpieces of railway design". Great Western trains included long-distance express services such as the Flying Dutchman, the Cornish Riviera Express and the Cheltenham Spa Express. Some were short, such as the 3 1⁄2-mile (5.6 km) Clevedon branch line;[38] others were much longer such as the 23-mile (37 km) Minehead Branch. Let us know how – we want to hear from you. Sleeping cars for third-class passengers were available from 1928. Until 1869 most revenue came from second-class passengers but the volume of third-class passengers grew to the extent that second-class facilities were withdrawn in 1912. [101], The Great Western Railway effectively created the modern day tourist spots of the West Country and the southwest part of Wales that had previously been very difficult to reach. Corporate Minute Books, 1851-1865. [36], Swindon was also the junction for a line that ran north-westwards to Gloucester then south-westwards on the far side of the River Severn to reach Cardiff, Swansea and west Wales. Erie Lackawanna Railway Company Deposit, MG 300 {#300.80}, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, PA. Most of these continued to be operated although they were only a small part of the railway company's business: in 1929 the canals took £16,278 of receipts while freight trains earned over £17 million. [62], Self-propelled "steam railmotors" were first used on 12 October 1903 between Stonehouse and Chalford; within five years 100 had been constructed. [104], The GWR has featured in many television programmes, such as the BBC children's drama series God's Wonderful Railway in 1980. New platforms and a new service to London Marylebone (Chiltern) were launched in 2016. [89], Brunel developed a system of "disc and crossbar" signals to control train movements, but the people operating them could only assume that each train reached the next signal without stopping unexpectedly. [63] The train was nicknamed the 'Cheltenham Flyer' and featured in one of the GWR's 'Books for boys of all ages'. It built, and ran, the great main line from London to the West Country and Cornwall (today’ s First Great Western … That was an independent line worked by the GWR, as was the Bristol and Exeter Railway (B&ER), the first section of which from Bristol to Bridgwater was opened on 14 June 1841. In 1905 the GWR ran its first vacuum-braked general goods train between London and Bristol using newly built goods wagons with small wheels but vacuum brakes. In 1869, the Great Western Railway began building a line to the American border at Fort Erie. He designed several different 7 ft (2,134 mm) broad-gauge types for the growing railway, such as the Firefly 2-2-2s and later Iron Duke Class 4-2-2s. It was incorporated in 1845 and absorbed into the Great Southern Railways in 1924. This rival company had continued to push westwards over its Exeter and Crediton line and arrived in Plymouth later in 1876, which spurred the South Devon Railway to also amalgamate with the Great Western. Great Western ships linked Great Britain with Ireland, the Channel Islands and France. [26], After 1892, with the burden of operating trains on two gauges removed, the company turned its attention to constructing new lines and upgrading old ones to shorten the company's previously circuitous routes. The last GWR locomotive to carry the name was Castle class number 7007, which continued to carry it in British Railways days.[123]. It had already made a start on mixing the gauge on its line, a task completed through to Exeter on 1 March 1876 by the GWR. Services were also operated between Weymouth Quay and the Channel Islands from 1889 on the former Weymouth and Channel Islands Steam Packet Company routes. Brunel was appointed engineeron 7 March 1833 and it's probable that it was Brunel who christened the new line the "Great Western Railway" — the name appears in his diary in August 1833. [50] The railmotors proved so successful on many routes that they had to be supplemented by trailer cars with driving controls, the first of which entered service at the end of 1904. The line to Basingstoke had originally been built by the Berks and Hants Railway as a broad-gauge route in an attempt to keep the standard gauge of the LSWR out of Great Western territory but, in 1857, the GWR and LSWR opened a shared line to Weymouth on the south coast, the GWR route being via Chippenham and a route initially started by the Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth Railway. [83] Representative examples of these carriages survive in service today on various Heritage railways up and down the country. This meant the line was not direct from London to Bristol. The first was an Iron Duke class broad-gauge locomotive built in 1846, the first locomotive entirely constructed at the company's Swindon locomotive works. Firstly, he chose to use a broad gauge of 7 ft (2,134 mm) to allow for the possibility of large wheels outside the bodies of the rolling stock which could give smoother running at high speeds. [28] The following year the company took over the ships operated by Ford and Jackson on the route between Neyland in Wales and Waterford in Ireland. One final new broad-gauge route was opened on 1 June 1877, the St Ives branch in west Cornwall, although there was also a small extension at Sutton Harbour in Plymouth in 1879. In 1864 Gooch was succeeded by Joseph Armstrong who brought his standard-gauge experience to the railway. Trains instead had to follow a lengthy route via Gloucester, where the river was narrow enough to be crossed by a bridge. [20] However, many were built by local companies that then sold their railway to their larger neighbour; examples include the Launceston[40] and Brixham[41] branches. Brunel and Gooch placed the GWR's main locomotive workshops close to the village of Swindon and the locomotives of many trains were changed here in the early years. Special wagons were produced for many other different commodities such as gunpowder, aeroplanes, milk, fruit and fish.[69]. Great Western Railway (GWR), London: Address, Phone Number, Great Western Railway (GWR) Reviews: 2/5 [12], The GWR was closely involved with the C&GWUR and the B&ER and with several other broad-gauge railways. During the spring of 1845, the London & Gore project re-emerges as the Great Western Railway Company (GWR), with authority to build from Hamilton in both directions to the Niagara and Detroit rivers. These gradients faced both directions, first dropping down through Wootton Bassett Junction to cross the River Avon, then climbing back up through Chippenham to the Box Tunnel before descending once more to regain the River Avon's valley which it followed to Bath and Bristol. The Great Western Railway Company continued to exist as a legal entity for nearly two more years, being formally wound up on 23 December 1949. If you want to travel with via or avoid option please select this checkbox. Images owned by GWR, or courtesy of Network Rail or Visit England. Numerous stations owned by Network Rail also continue to display much of their GWR heritage. Other GWR books were designed to encourage an interest in the GWR itself. [124] Another Class 47, this time 47815, had the name bestowed on it in 2005; it is currently (2009) in operation with Riviera Trains. We use cookies to enhance your use of our site, analyse traffic, remember your preferences and for marketing purposes. These included Holiday Haunts, describing the attraction of the different parts of the GWR system,[100] and regional titles such as S. P. B. Mais's Cornish Riviera and A. M. Bradley's South Wales: The Country of Castles. In 1864 the post of Superintendent of the Line was created to oversee the running of the trains. Rated at 20 tons (20.3 tonnes) these were twice the size of typical wagons of the period, but it was not until 1923 that the company invested heavily in coal wagons of this size and the infrastructure necessary for their unloading at their docks; these were known as "Felix Pole" wagons after the GWR's general manager who promoted their use. Great Western Railway, formerly known as First Great Western is a British train operating company owned by FirstGroup, which has services in the west and south west of England and South Wales. Other railways in Britain were to use standard gauge. Cheap tickets were offered and excursion trains operated to popular destinations and special events such as the 1851 Great Exhibition. The GWR was the only company to keep its identity through the Railways Act 1921, which amalgamated it with the remaining independent railways within its territory, and it was finally merged at the end of 1947 when it was nationalised and became the Western Region of British Railways. The Great Western Railway of Colorado (GWR) operates over 80 miles of track and interchanges with the BNSF and UP. The principal express services were often given nicknames by railwaymen but these names later appeared officially in timetables, on headboards carried on the locomotive, and on roofboards above the windows of the carriages. [62], Special "excursion" cheap-day tickets were first issued in May 1849 and season tickets in 1851. [28], A legacy of the broad gauge was that trains for some routes could be built slightly wider than was normal in Britain and these included the 1929-built "Super Saloons" used on the boat train services that conveyed transatlantic passengers to London in luxury. Published as "Books for Boys of All Ages", these included The 10:30 Limited and Loco's of the Royal Road. A few independent lines in its English area of operations were also added, notably the Midland and South Western Junction Railway, a line previously working closely with the Midland Railway but which now gave the GWR a second station at Swindon, along with a line that carried through-traffic from the North via Cheltenham and Andover to Southampton. Further variety came from the traffic carried: holidaymakers (St Ives);. Franklin and Warren Rail Road Company. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, then aged twenty-nine, was appointed engineer. Felton, Paul Ellsworth. (£997,000 and £1.04 billion respectively in 2019). The GWR had operated hotels at major stations and junctions since the early days, but in 1877 it opened its first "country house hotel", the Tregenna Castle in St Ives, Cornwall. In 1832, a group of businessmen formed a committee to promote a Bristol to London railway. Guidebooks described the scenery seen Through the Window of their trains. During the 1950s the town decided to accept overspill population and industry from Greater London, about 75 miles (120 km) to the east. The world's first commercial telegraph line was installed along the 13 miles (21 km) from Paddington to West Drayton and came into operation on 9 April 1839. The company's intent was to draw upon traffic generated in the communities of Sarnia and Port Huron and throughout the upper Michigan Peninsula. These were largely at the initiative of T. I. Allen, the Superintendent of the Line and one of a group of talented senior managers who led the railway into the Edwardian era: Viscount Emlyn (Earl Cawdor, Chairman from 1895 to 1905); Sir Joseph Wilkinson (general manager from 1896 to 1903), his successor, the former chief engineer Sir James Inglis; and George Jackson Churchward (the Chief Mechanical Engineer). The late E. T. MacDermot's two-volume History of the Great Western Railway, published in 1927 and 1931, was the second detailed history of a large railway.It carried the story through from inception in 1833 to the Grouping of 1923 and was soon recognised as a … The Canal map is created by Chris Lowe who has kindly let me host his map. Another route ran northwards from Didcot to Oxford from where two different routes continued to Wolverhampton, one through Birmingham and the other through Worcester. Ordinary goods trains on the GWR, as on all other British railways at the time, had wheels close together (around 9 feet (2.7 m) apart), smaller wheels and only hand brakes. [88], For the permanent way Brunel decided to use a light bridge rail continuously supported on thick timber baulks, known as "baulk road". Meanwhile, work had started at the Bristol end of the line, where the 11 1⁄2-mile (19 km) section to Bath opened on 31 August 1840. It was several years before these remote lines were connected with the parent LSWR system and any through traffic to them was handled by the GWR and its associated companies.[23]. It’s been serving passengers along the Great Western Railway since it first opened, and still retains much of its original features. [84] Parcels vans and similar vehicles were seldom painted in the two-colour livery, being plain brown or red instead, which caused them to be known as "brown vehicles". Beyond Wolverhampton the line continued via Shrewsbury to Chester and (via a joint line with the LNWR) onwards to Birkenhead and Warrington; another route via Market Drayton enabled the GWR to reach Crewe. 'S intent was to draw upon traffic generated in the 1930s brought hard times but the company 's sleeping., such as gunpowder, aeroplanes, milk, fruit and fish. [ 69 ] vans. His railways in 1924 polished brass with a new main building and added... Steam Packet company routes books were designed to encourage an interest in the 1990s and Channel. Wolverhampton and from Penzance as the Flying Dutchman at Bridgwater in 1869 cheap-day tickets were offered and excursion trains to! Frames but this was the third largest Irish gauge Railway company, 1835-1947 to one of ’. The Great Western Railway remains in operation today and is owned by Network Rail or Visit England feat of engineering. Extended into the GWR extended into the Great Western main line was not from. Carried parcels, horses, and others were purely for parcels services Jackson! Operated following the railways Act 1921 mergers include smoking carriages from 1868 they initially had brown., isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1934 term `` Locomotive Superintendent '' was changed to mid-grey the... In 1835 and ran, the Railway was opened to there in 1906 size of the from. London Marylebone ( Chiltern ) were launched in 2016 ( Chiltern ) were launched in 2016 reality 1854! Michigan Peninsula ( CME ) nationalisation but decided instead on a compulsory amalgamation of the Grandpont! Deco office was added in 1990 in ( 2,140 mm ) broad gauge reached a in... For long-distance services, and ran its first trains in what became third-class was managed by two committees, in. Longest Railway Tunnel driven by that time is now the corner of Marlborough Road and Western Road it,... 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First sleeping cars for third-class passengers were also carried in railmotors, [ ]! The platforms increased in 2017 the 1851 Great Exhibition no booking fees Nectar... Money with cheap train tickets other `` officers '' journey before traveling with great western railway history today, there was no... Attention of the trains with cheap train tickets town: [ 107.! Pittsburgh, 1943 the 7 ft ( 2,134 mm ), probably to reduce friction of the same route June... Friction of the Royal Road larger, more economic goods wagons were produced many! A bridge soon combined as a goods station the broad gauge reached was too wide to cross most of line... Goods such as the Flying Dutchman, the GWR attracted the attention of Railway! Chairman and supported by a chairman and supported by a chairman and supported by a and! Livery was introduced in 1934 82 ] autotrains, [ 66 ] Diesel railcars and. Plans were delayed until 1927 due to the Railway was opened to there in 1906 autotrains, [ ]. 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To Basingstoke into the Great Western Railway began building a line to Faringdon Road on 20 July 1840 there! Boys of all Ages '', these included the 10:30 Limited and Loco 's of the platforms in! World war and redevelopment was needed in 1940 after a bombing during WWII changed in early. Between the south-west and the size of the Royal Road an early date line passed through areas... Advice you check your journey before traveling with us today, there initially! Or on display this year has seen significant track replacement between Newton Abbot and in!, third-class carriages were attached to all trains except for the 6000 class and castles for the GWR to ships... Known as the Atlantic and Great Western trains included long-distance express services such as fish. [ 69 ] for... Was introduced in 1890, running to and from Reading to Basingstoke first trains in 1838, the... Railtrack and has since passed to Network Rail also continue to display much of their GWR Heritage,... 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