London and South Western Railway

London and South Western Railway

The London and South Western Railway (L&SWR) was a railway company in England from 1838 to 1922. Its network extended from London to Plymouth via Salisbury and Exeter, with branches to Ilfracombe and Padstow and via Southampton to Bournemouth and Weymouth. It also had many routes connecting towns in Hampshire and Berkshire, including Portsmouth and Reading. In the grouping of railways in 1923 the L&SWR became part of the Southern Railway.

Among significant achievements of the L&SWR were the electrification of suburban lines, the introduction of power signalling, the development of Southampton Docks, the rebuilding of Waterloo Station as one of the great stations of the world and the handling of the massive traffic involved in the First World War.


After the Napoleonic Wars there was great concern about the security of coastal shipping routes between Southampton and London, and a number of canal schemes were put forward. After main line railways were seen to be feasible, the idea of connecting places in the South West of England to London was much discussed.

An early proposal for a railway came from Robert Johnson and Abel Ros Dottin, member of parliament for Southampton. A prospectus was published on 23 October 1830 and a public meeting in February 1831 gave unanimous support to the proposals. The railway was promoted as the "Southampton, London and Branch Railway and Dock Company", with capital of £1.5 million in shares of £20. The line was to link Southampton and London, and to extend a branch to districts between Hungerford and Bristol. At this time the Great Western Railway (GWR) was being promoted, and the two schemes soon became competitors in providing railway connection to towns in the South West.

However commercial interests in Bristol and Bath seemed to favour the GWR's proposals over the Southampton company's, and a more modest initial scheme, linking only Southampton and London, was developed. Two alternative routes were surveyed by the engineer Francis Giles. One was broadly the route finally adopted, from London via Kingston, Woking and Winchester; the other was a more southerly alignment through Guildford, Farnham and Alresford to Winchester. The southerly route passed through more prosperous agricultural land, but the northern route was preferred by the proprietors because of the better access to possible branch lines to Bristol via Hungerford, Devizes, and Bath).

The railway was promoted as the "London and Southampton Railway" and authorised by Act of Parliament on 25 July 1834.

Construction of the Southampton line

Construction started in September 1834 with Giles as engineer. His method was to employ a number of small contractors working concurrently at various places on the line. However their lack of resources meant that progress was slow and sporadic, and Giles was unable to maintain control of costs. With mounting delays, the projected cost to complete the line rose from the initial £894,000 to £1.5 million, and in 1837 parliamentary authority had to be sought to raise further capital. Following an examination of the accounts, instigated by a group of Lancashire shareholders, Giles was dismissed and replaced as engineer by Joseph Locke. Locke replaced many of the small contractors with the established firm of Thomas Brassey, and the rate of progress improved greatlyWilliams, R. A. (1968) "The London & South Western Railway", v. 1: The formative years, and v. 2: Growth and consolidation, David and Charles, ISBN 0-7153-4188-X; ISBN 0-7153-5940-1] .

The new line was opened in stages; the first section was from Nine Elms to Woking Common (later renamed Woking) on 21 May 1838, and the company changed its name to "the London and South Western Railway Company" on the same day.

The opening of the remainder of the main line followed:
* Woking to Shapley Heath: 24 September 1838
* Shapley Heath to Basingstoke: 10 June 1839
* Winchester to a temporary "Southampton" station at Northam Road: 10 June 1839
* Basingstoke to Winchester, and also the Southampton terminus: 11 May 1840.

The section between Basingstoke and Winchester was the most difficult to engineer, as it crossed the Loddon, Test and Itchen Valleys. It passed through four tunnels before descending to Winchester.

The stations on the line at the time of opening were:

* Nine Elms; the London terminus on the south bank of the River Thames, adjacent to the present Nine Elms Way; the station was a little over a mile from Trafalgar Square;
* Wandsworth; on the northern margin of Wandsworth Common, about half a mile west of the present Clapham Junction;
* Wimbledon; somewhat to the west of Wimbledon Hill Road and of the present station;
* Kingston; on the east side of King Charles Road, about half a mile east of the present Surbiton station;
* Ditton Marsh; now Esher station;
* Walton; the present Walton-on-Thames station;
* Weybridge
* Woking Common; now Woking station;
* Farnborough;
* Shapley Heath; now Winchfield station;
* Basingstoke railway station;
* Andover Road; now Micheldever station;
* Winchester railway station;
* Northam Road station; at the road of the same name;
* Southampton; later renamed Southampton Terminus, at the present Terminus Terrace, it was an elegant building in the classical style by Sir William TiteCobb, Col M. H., 2003; The Railways of Great Britain: A Historical Atlas; Ian Allan Publishing Ltd; ISBN 07110-3002-2] .

Gauge wars

Between the first proposal for a railway from London to Southampton and the construction, the proprietors and other groups were considering rail connections to other towns, some in the territory towards Bath and Bristol. The Great Western Railway (GWR) also planned to reach those towns and obtained its Act of Parliament on 31 August 1835 which for the time being removed Bath and Bristol from the L&SWR's ambit but there remained much disputed territory, and the L&SWR and its allies continually fought the GWR and its allies for possession of territory for expansion. The GWR was built on the broad gauge of 2140 mm (7 ft ¼ in) while the L&SWR gauge was 1435 mm (4 ft 8½ in) standard gauge, and the allegiance of any proposed independent railway was made clear by its intended gauge. The protracted competition for territory, investment funds, and parliamentary approval between the GWR and the standard gauge companies became called the "gauge wars".

In early days government held that several competing railways could not be sustained in any particular area of the country, and a commission of experts referred to informally as the "Five Kings"Fact|date=May 2008 was established by the Board of Trade to determine the preferred development, and therefore the preferred company, in certain districts, and this was formalised in the Railway Regulation Act 1844.

In 1836 and later years there were proposals for a standard gauge extension to Exeter and Plymouth, but the Bristol & Exeter Railway, a broad gauge company, was successful in reaching Exeter first on 1 May 1844.

In 1844 a Wimborne solicitor put forward proposals for a Southampton and Dorchester Railway, and explored with the L&SWR its interest in supporting his scheme. However these negotiations were not positive, and in September 1844 the GWR agreed to lease his line, implying that it would be built to the broad gauge. The L&SWR developed an independent, opposing scheme, but the Five Kings supported the Southampton & Dorchester line. Formal agreement was reached on 16 January 1845 between the L&SWR, the GWR and the Southampton & Dorchester, agreeing exclusive areas of influence for future railway construction as between the parties. Part of the agreement made the Southampton and Dorchester line a standard gauge route, and gave the L&SWR access over the GWR line to Weymouth.

Early expansion

The L&SWR's energies were not confined to the gauge wars in the early years, and branch lines were constructed to Salisbury (as part of the thrust to the West), Richmond, Gosport (for Portsmouth), and Godalming.

In 1836 the promoters of the L & S proposed a branch from Bishopstoke (Eastleigh) to Portsmouth, the Portsmouth Junction Railway. However the population of Portsmouth wanted a direct line to London rather than a branch from a main line to Southampton. Their opposition resulted in the defeat of the Bill at its second reading.

In January 1838 a direct independent line was proposed to London, through Chichester, Arundel and Dorking. The promoters approached the L & S, but they were rejected with a degree of vindictiveness. The L & S was already planning a line to Gosport on the western side of Portsmouth Harbour. The L & S's Act succeeded on 4 June 1839. As a concession to Portsmouth the L & S changed its name to the London and South Western Railway.

London Terminal Stations

The company's first London terminus was at Nine Elms on the edge of the built-up area. The wharf frontage on the river was advantageous to the railway's objective of substituting for coastal shipping transits, but the site was inconvenient for passengers, who had to travel on to London either by road or by boat.

The "Metropolitan Extension" to a more central location had been discussed as early as 1836, and an extension northeast was authorised by Act of Parliament on 31 July 1845 with a supplementary Act of 1847 authorising a wider railway and a larger terminus; the capital authorised was £950,000. The line was to have an intermediate station at Vauxhall and two short branches, to Waterloo Bridge Road and to Hungerford Bridge. An unfulfilled intention was for a through station with services nearer to the City and the eventual terminus, named Waterloo Bridge until 1886, was planned to be a through station.

Opening was planned for 30 June 1848, but the Board of Trade Inspector refused to approve the engineering construction of some of the large-span bridges at the eastern end; however his superior was satisfied during load tests at a subsequent inspection, and the line opened on 11 July 1848. At first incoming trains stopped outside the station and were pulled in by capstan after the locomotive had been detached.

The Nine Elms site became dedicated to goods traffic and was much extended to fill the triangle of land eastwards to Wandsworth Road.
An independent Richmond railway was promoted which would have run north of the L&SWR as far as Nine Elms, then would have crossed the L&SWR line and run to Waterloo. However the L&SWR adopted the Richmond line giving quadrupled track from where the routes met at Falcon Junction (just east of the present Clapham Junction station) to Waterloo Bridge.

West of Salisbury

The Exeter and Crediton Railway (opened on 12 May 1851), and the North Devon Railway (opened on 1 August 1854) were leased to the London and South Western Railway from 1862/1863 and then bought out in 1865.

uburban Lines

Routes in Hampshire


The L&SWR adopted 650 V DC third rail electrification of its London suburban routes to Waterloo in 1913, but was delayed by First World War. They were inspired by Sir Herbert Walker, who had recently been at London and North Western Railway and had electrified (using a similar 630 V DC four rail system) their suburban lines (see Suburban electrification of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway#London District). This early adoption clashed with LBSCR's 6600V (6.6 kV), 25 Hz AC, Overhead system. Grouping saw LSWR's management dominate and the LSWR system was rolled out across South London in the 1920s over the metals of both LBSCR and SECR. Eventually it replaced the LBSCR system and was used on two mainline electrifications of the exLBSCR's Brighton Main Line in January 1933 and LSWR's own Portsmouth Direct Line in May 1937. Electrification was thus limited to metro / suburban services using electric multiple units (EMUs), freight and mainline (intercity) services continued to use steam traction.

Southampton Docks

When the company was first formed, it also showed interest in Southampton Docks. The first docks had already been built and the development of the port of Southampton was accelerated by the arrival of the railway. In 1843, the L&SWR started running ships from Southampton as the "New South Western Steam Navigation Company" [ [ Fact file - PortCities Southampton ] ] .. Later, the L&SWR took over the vessels and in 1892 it bought the docks and continued the rapid development of them. [ [ The premier port - PortCities Southampton ] ] .

Eastleigh Works

In 1891, the works at Eastleigh, in Hampshire, were opened with the transfer of the carriage and wagon works from Nine Elms in London. The Locomotive Works were transferred from Nine Elms under Drummond, opening in 1909.

LSWR infrastructure

For details of the LSWR Main Line routes, see:
*South Western Main Line
*West of England Main Line
*LSWR Secondary Routes

Locomotive engineers, works and corporate liveries

The LSWR was blessed throughout much of its history by distinguished and highly capable locomotive engineers.

John Viret Gooch 1841 - 1850

Joseph Hamilton Beattie 1850 - 1871

William George Beattie 1871 - 1877

William Adams 1877 - 1895

Dugald Drummond 1895 -1912

Robert Urie 1912-1923

Locomotive works

The locomotive works were at Nine Elms Locomotive Works from 1838 to 1908. Under Drummond they were moved to a new spacious site at Eastleigh in 1909.
* List of locomotives

Locomotive liveries

John Viret Gooch

Little information is available although from 1844 dark green with red and white lining, black wheels and red buffer beams seems to have become standard.

Joseph Hamilton Beattie 1850 - 1866

Passenger classes - Indian red with black panelling inside white. Driving splashers and cylinders lined white. Black wheels, smokebox and chimney. Vermilion buffer beams and buff footplate interior.

Goods classes - unlined Indian red. Older engines painted black until 1859.

1866 - 1872

All engines dark chocolate brown with 1-inch black bands edged internally in white and externally by vermillion. Tender sides divided into three panels.
William George Beattie

Paler chocolate known as purple brown with the same lining. From 1874 the white lining was replaced by yellow ochre and the vermillion by crimson.

William Adams

1878 - 1885

Umber brown with a 3in black band externally and bright green line internally. Boiler bands black with white edging. Buffer beams vermilion. Smokebox, chimney, frames etc black.

1885 - 1895

Passenger classes - Pea green with black borders edged with a fine white line. Boiler bands black with a fine white line to either side.

Goods classes - holly green with black borders edged by a fine bright green line.

Dugald Drummond


Passenger classes - royal green lined in chocolate, triple lined in white, black and white. Boiler bands black lined in white with 3-inch tan stripes to either side. Outside cylinders with black borders and white lining. Smokebox, chimney, exterior frames, tops of splashers, platform etc black. Inside of the main frames tan. Buffer beams vermilion and cab interiors grained pine. Goods classes - holly green edged in black and lined in light green. Boiler bands black edged in light green.

Robert Urie

1914 - 1917

Passenger classes - olive green with Drummond lining.

Goods classes holly green with black edging and white lining.

1917 - 1923

Passenger classes - olive green with a black border and white edging.

Goods classes - holly green often without lining until 1918.

Other details

* The longest tunnel is "Honiton Tunnel" 1,353 yards (1,218m); there were six others longer than 500 yards (450m)
* The Waterloo and City Railway became part of the L&SWR
* The L&SWR and the Midland Railway were joint owners of the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway
* The anglicised script version of the Russian word for railway station is 'vokzal'. A longstanding legend has it that a party from Russia planning their own railway system arrived in London around the time that the L&SWR's Vauxhall station was opened. They saw the station nameboards, thought the word was the English word for railway station and took it back home. In fact, the first Russian railway station was built on the site of pleasure gardens based on those at Vauxhall — nothing to do with the English railway station. (Fuller details are in the Vauxhall article.)

ee also

*List of early British railway companies


Further reading

* Dendy-Marshall, C. F. (1968) "A history of the Southern Railway ", Kidner,R.W. (ed.), new ed., London: Allen, ISBN 0-7110-0059-X
* Hamilton E.C. (1956) "The South Western Railway: its mechanical history and background, 1838-1922", George Allen & Unwin, 256 p.
* Nock, O. S. (1971) "The London & South Western Railway", Ian Allen, ISBN 0-7110-0267-3
* Williams, R. A. (1968) "The London & South Western Railway", v. 1: The formative years, and v. 2: Growth and consolidation, David and Charles, ISBN 0-7153-4188-X; ISBN 0-7153-5940-1

External links

* [] - South Western Circle : The Historical Society for the London & South Western Railway

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • London and South Western Railway — (966 englische Meilen = 1554 km), eine der größten Eisenbahnunternehmungen Englands, mit dem Sitz in London, 1834 unter dem Namen London and Southampton Railway gegründet, den sie bis 1839 behielt. Die L. erweiterte ihr Netz größtenteils durch… …   Enzyklopädie des Eisenbahnwesens

  • London and South Western Railway — L SWR Netz bei seiner größten Ausdehnung 1922 London and South Western Railway (L SWR) war eine Eisenbahn Gesellschaft in England, die von 1838 bis 1922 bestand. Ihr Netzwerk erstrecke sich von London südwest und westwärts bis Plymouth über… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • London and North Western Railway — The London and North Western Railway (LNWR, L NWR) was a railway company of the United Kingdom which existed between 1846 and 1922. It was created by the merger of three railway companies the Grand Junction Railway, the London and Birmingham… …   Wikipedia

  • Glasgow and South Western Railway — Infobox SG rail railroad name = Glasgow and South Western Railway logo filename = GSWR logo.png logo size = system map caption = map size = marks = image size = image caption = locale = Scotland start year = 1850 end year = 1923 predecessor line …   Wikipedia

  • Glasgow and South Western Railway — Die Glasgow and South Western Railway (G SWR) war eine britische Eisenbahngesellschaft, die von 1850 bis 1922 existierte. Sie erschloss ein dreieckförmiges Gebiet im Südwesten Schottlands, zwischen Glasgow, Stranraer und Carlisle. Im letzten… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Glasgow and South Western-Railway — (466 engl. Meilen = 750 km) mit dem Sitz der Gesellschaft in Glasgow. Die Hauptlinie geht von Glasgow über Kilmarnock, Dumfries Annan nach Carlisle (Anschluß an die Midland Bahn). Weitere Linien führen nach Greenock, Ardrossan, Troon, Ayr,… …   Enzyklopädie des Eisenbahnwesens

  • Locomotives of the Glasgow and South Western Railway — The locomotives of the Glasgow and South Western Railway (G SWR). The G SWR had its headquarters in Glasgow with its main locomotive works in Kilmarnock. Engines inherited from constituent companies The G SWR was formed in 1850 from a merger of… …   Wikipedia

  • London, Brighton and South Coast Railway — The London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB SCR) (commonly known as the Brighton line ) was a railway company in the United Kingdom from 1846 to 1923. Its territory formed a rough triangle, with London at its apex and practically the whole… …   Wikipedia

  • London, Brighton and South Coast Railway — Die London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB SCR, üblicherweise als the Brighton line bekannt) war eine britische Eisenbahngesellschaft, die von 1846 bis 1922 existierte. Ihr Territorium bildete ungefähr ein Dreieck mit London an der Spitze… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Moretonhampstead and South Devon Railway — Locale England Dates of operation 1866–1972 Successor South Devon Railway Track gauge 7 ft 0¼ in Length 12.35 miles …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.