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The Grand Junction Railway (GJR) was an early railway company in the United Kingdommarker, which existed between 1833 and 1846 when it was merged into the London and North Western Railway. The line built by the company was the first trunk railway to be completed in Englandmarker, and arguably the world's first long-distance railway.


Authorised by Parliamentmarker in 1833 and designed by George Stephenson and Joseph Locke, it opened for business on 4 July 1837, running for 82 miles (132 km) from Birminghammarker through Wolverhamptonmarker (via Perry Barrmarker and Bescotmarker), Staffordmarker, Crewemarker, and Warringtonmarker, then via the existing Warrington and Newton Railway to join the Liverpool and Manchester Railway at a triangular junction at Newton Junctionmarker. The GJR established its chief engineering works at Crewe, moving there from Edge Hill, near Liverpoolmarker.

Shortly after opening with a temporary Birmingham terminus at Vauxhallmarker, services were routed to and from Curzon Street stationmarker, which it shared with the London and Birmingham Railway (LBR) whose platforms were adjacent, providing a link between Liverpool, Manchestermarker and Londonmarker. The route between Curzon Street stationmarker and Vauxhall primarily consisted of the Birmingham Viaduct. It consisted of 28 arches, each wide and tall and crossed the River Reamarker.

Mail trains

It was on this railway that the sorting of mail en route was first done. Mail was first sorted in a converted horse-box, in January 1838, at the suggestion of Frederick Karstadt, a Post Office surveyor. Karstadt's son was one of two mail clerks who did the sorting. Later, carriages had a net attached, for catching mail bags at intermediate stations without stopping the train.


In 1840 the GJR absorbed the Chester and Crewe Railway shortly before it opened. Seeing itself as part of a grand railway network, it encouraged the development of the North Union Railway which took the tracks onward to Prestonmarker, and it also invested in the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway and the Caledonian Railway. In 1845 the GJR merged with the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, and consolidated its position by buying the North Union Railway in association with the Manchester and Leeds Railway.


The GJR was very profitable, paying dividends of at least 10% from its opening and having a final capital value of over £5.75 million when it merged with the London and Birmingham Railway and Manchester and Birmingham Railway companies to became the London and North Western Railway in 1846, and the London Midland and Scottish Railway in 1922.

The line today

Today, the lines which made up the GJR form the central section of the West Coast Main Linemarker.

Locomotives of the GJR


One locomotive Columbine has been preserved at the Science Museum marker. This was GJR No. 49 and LNWR No. 1868[27636]

The GJR in popular culture

  • In the 2007 adaptation of Cranford, a (fictitious) railway line owned by the Grand Junction Railway is the subject of gossip when the railway line bypasses the village of Cranford.

See also


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