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The London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) (commonly known as "the Brighton line" or "the Brighton Railway") was a railway company in the United Kingdom from 1846 to 1922. Its territory formed a rough triangle, with Londonmarker at its apex, practically the whole coastline of Sussex as its base, and a large part of Surreymarker. It was bounded on its western side by the lines of the London and South Western Railway (L&SWR), which provided an alternative route to Portsmouthmarker in Hampshire. On its eastern side the railway was bounded by the South Eastern Railway (SER) - later one component of the South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SE&CR) – which provided an alternative route to Bexhill, St Leonards-on-Seamarker, and Hastingsmarker. The LB&SCR supplied the most direct routes from London to the South Coast seaside resorts of Brightonmarker, Eastbournemarker, Worthingmarker, Littlehamptonmarker and Bognor, and to the ports of Newhaven and Shoreham. In addition, the company served the inland towns/cities of Chichestermarker, Horshammarker, East Grinsteadmarker and Lewesmarker, and jointly served Croydonmarker, Tunbridge Wellsmarker, Dorkingmarker and Guildfordmarker. At the London end was a complicated suburban and outer-suburban network of lines, emanating from London Bridgemarker and Victoriamarker stations, as well as shared interests in two cross-London lines.

The company was formed by a merger of five pre-existing companies in 1846, and was in turn merged with the L&SWR, the SE&CR and several minor railway companies in southern England, as a result of the Railways Act 1921 grouping, to form the Southern Railway as from 1 January 1923.

History of the Company

The London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) was formed by Act of Parliament on 27 July 1846, through the amalgamation of a number of pre-existing railway companies. These were:

The amalgamation had been brought about, against the wishes of the directors, by shareholders in the L&CR and L&BR who were dissatisfied with the early returns from their investment.

Original Routes

At the time of its creation the new railway had around in existence or under construction represented by three main routes

The London to Brighton Line

Main article Brighton Main Line

The line from London Bridge to Brighton (two parts of which, between Corbett's Lane (New Crossmarker) and London Bridgemarker and between Croydon and Redhill railway stationmarker, were shared with the South Eastern Railway), was opened in 1841. This line included significant tunnels at Mersthammarker, Balcombemarker, Haywards Heathmarker, Claytonmarker and Patchammarker, as well as the Ouse Valley Viaductmarker. There were also two branch lines under construction at the time of the amalgamation: the first from Croydon to Epsom railway stationmarker, and another from Three Bridges railway stationmarker to Horsham railway stationmarker.

The West Sussex coast line

Main article West Coastway Line

The line from Brighton to Shoreham was opened in 1840 and was completed as far as Chichestermarker by the amalgamation, but further extensions to Havantmarker and Portsmouth were under construction. The main had no major civil engineering features.

The East Sussex coast line

Main article East Coastway Line

The line from Brighton to Lewesmarker and St Leonards, together with running powers over the SER line to Hastingsmarker, was opened in 1846 one month prior to amalgamation. There were also branches to Newhaven, Eastbournemarker and Hailshammarker. A connecting spur from the Brighton main line at Keymer Junction near Haywards Heathmarker to the Brighton-Lewes line was under construction at the time of amalgamation. This line had tunnels at Ditchling Road (Brighton) and Falmermarker, and there were two further tunnels on the SER line between St Leonards and Hastings. There were also viaducts at London Road marker and Lewes Road Moulsecoombmarker.

In addition, a line from New Crossmarker to Deptford Dockyardmarker, proposed by the L&CR was approved in July 1846, shortly before the amalgamation. (This line was opened by the LB&SCR in July 1849, and a short branch to the nearby Surrey Commercial Docksmarker in Rotherhithemarker opened in July 1855.)

London stations

The main Londonmarker terminus of the new railway was the SER station at London Bridgemarker, which had been built by the London and Greenwich Railway in 1836, and operated by the SER from 1845. LB&SCR trains therefore had also to use the SER lines from Corbett’s Lane into London. The company also inherited from the L&CR ownership of a smaller terminus at Bricklayers' Armsmarker which was also shared with the SER. However, this terminus was poorly sited for passenger traffic and so closed in 1852 and converted into the Willow Walk goods depot.

The railway originally had two stations at Croydon, which were later renamed East Croydonmarker (former L&BR) and West Croydonmarker (former L&CR) respectively.

Atmospheric lines

The London and Croydon Railway railway had been partially operated by the atmospheric principle, between Croydonmarker and Forest Hillmarker, as the first phase of a scheme to use this mode of operation between London and Epsommarker. However, following a number of technical problems, the board of the new railway abandoned atmospheric operation in May 1847. The abandonment of the plans for atmospheric working into London enabled the new company to build its own separate lines into London Bridge, and have its own independent station there, by 1849.

The subsequent seventy five year history of the company can best be studied in four discrete periods.

Rapid expansion 1854-1866

The new company was formed at the same time as the bursting of the railway mania investment bubble and so it found raising capital for expansion extremely difficult during the first years of its operation, other than to complete those projects that were already in hand. However, during the 1850s the LBSCR began to expand its routes throughout south London, Sussex, and east Surrey. Some of these routes were financed and built by the company itself, whereas others were built by independent local companies, set up with the intention of connecting their town to the growing railway network, and with the intention of sale or lease to the LB&SCR. There was a period of particularly rapid expansion between 1857 and 1865, during which a further 177 route miles were constructed or authorised.

New lines in south London

The chairman and some of the directors of the LB&SCR were closely involved with the company which purchased The Crystal Palacemarker after the completion of The Great Exhibition in October 1851 and arranged for its removal to a site on Sydenham Hillmarker (close to the London Brighton main line), where it became a major tourist attraction. The railway therefore encourage the West End of London and Crystal Palace Railway to build a branch line between Sydenhammarker and the new site, which opened in June 1854, and extend the line in a wide arc round south London to Wandsworthmarker in 1856 and Batterseamarker Pier in 1858. The West Croydon to Wimbledon Line was built as an independent line joining the LB&SCR and the L&SWR main lines and opened in October 1855. For a few months the railway was operated under contract by its engineer George Parker Bidder but in 1856 it was leased to the LB&SCR and then purchased outright in 1858.

A new 'cut off' main line between Norwood Junction railway stationmarker and Balham was constructed during 1861 and 1862 which shortened the route from East Croydon to Victoria. At the same time, the LB&SCR was co-operating with the LC&DR to create the South London Line between London Bridge and Victoria. The LC&DR was used from Victoria to Brixtonmarker, followed by new construction by the LB&SCR through Denmark Hillmarker, and Peckhammarker to join their main line to London Bridge at South Bermondseymarker.

Victoria Station

Between 1858 and 1860 the company joined with the London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LC&DR), the Great Western Railway (GWR) and the London & North Western Railway (LNWR) to form the Victoria Station & Pimlico Railway Companymarker which constructed a bridge over the River Thames and an important new terminus in the west end of London at Victoriamarker. This project was connected with the West London Extension Joint Railway, a joint railway financed by the LB&SCR, L&SWR, GWR, and the L&NWR, allowing freight transfers between the companies well as some cross-London passenger trains. This line was opened in 1863, and the LB&SCR operated passenger trains between Clapham Junctionmarker and Kensingtonmarker.

New lines in Sussex

In East Sussex a branch linemarker was opened in July 1855 connecting the main line at Three Bridge to the market town of East Grinsteadmarker. This line was extended in 1866 to reach Groombridgemarker and Tunbridge Wellsmarker. Similarly, during 1858, a branch line was built from Lewes to Uckfieldmarker, which was also extended to Groombridge and thus to Tunbridge Wells in 1868. In 1864 the Newhaven branch line was extended to Seaford. A large area in East Sussex between Tunbridge Wells and Eastbourne remained without any railways and the LB&SCR was anxious in case the SER should venture into this territory. As a result in 1864, sought powers to build a line between these two towns. It also obtained powers for the construction of the Ouse Valley Railwaymarker, a project to build a line between Balcombe railway stationmarker on the Brighton main line to Uckfield and Hailshammarker. An extension of this line to St Leonards was also approved in May 1865. However, having obtained these powers, comparatively little work on either line had been expended by the end of 1866.

In West Sussex the Horsham branch was extended to Pulboroughmarker and Petworthmarker in 1859. In 1863 a new line was built from near Pulborough to a junction with the West Sussex coast line near Ford railway stationmarker. Similarly, in 1861 a line was built from near Horsham to Shoreham thereby providing a direct link to Brighton. Branches were also built from the West Sussex coast line to the village of Littlehamptonmarker in 1863 (to connect to a newly established cross-channel ferry service), to Bognor Regismarker in 1864 and to Hayling Islandmarker in 1867.

New lines in Surrey

The Epsom and Leatherhead Railway was an independent line leading from the L&SW main line at Wimbledon through the surrey towns of Epsom, Leatherheadmarker towards Guildfordmarker. The LB&SCR entered into an agreement with this company to share their existing station at Epsom and for them to use the line as far as Leatherhead. The new line opened in August 1859 and in 1860 this portion of the line was transferred to the joint ownership of the LB&SCR and the L&SWR. The LB&SCR then amalgamated with the Banstead and Epsom Downs Railway, which was constructing a branch line from Suttonmarker to Epsom Downs for the racecoursemarker traffic. This line opened in May 1865.

The LB&SCR also wished to connect Horshammarker with significant towns in Surrey. Thus in 1865 it opened a line between West Horshammarker and join the L&SWR line near Guildford thereby giving access to that town. It also constructed a line from Leatherhead to Dorkingmarker in March 1867, which was then continued to Horshammarker two months later. This line thereby completed a final link to provide an alternative LB&SCR route from London to Brighton and the West Sussex coast.

The company also supported the independent Surrey and Sussex Junction Railway, which obtained powers in July 1865 to build a new line from Croydon to Tunbridge Wells, via Oxtedmarker to be worked by the LB&SCR.

The development of Newhaven Harbour

Following the opening of the branch line from Lewesmarker to Newhavenmarker the railway sought to develop a new shorter Continental route from Londonmarker to Parismarker, via Dieppemarker, in competition to the South Eastern Railway routes from Dovermarker to Calaismarker and Folkestonemarker to Boulognemarker. The railway built their own wharf and warehousing facilities on the east side of the river, and opened the Newhaven harbour railway stationmarker. The company also funded the dredging of the channel and other improvements to the harbour between 1850 and 1878, to enable it to be used by larger cross chanel ferries., and in 1863 the LB&SCR and the Chemin de Fer de l‘Ouest introduced the Newhaven-Dieppe passenger service..

The growth of the London suburbs

As originally envisaged, the railway was a trunk route, primarily conveying passengers between London, Croydon and the towns on England's South coast, with relatively little traffic in between. However, partly as a result of the existence of the new railway, the rural area between New Crossmarker and Croydon was rapidly transformed into a large conurbation, and the population of Croydon increased 14-fold (from 16,700 to 233,000) during the years that the company was in existence. During the 1860s the LB&SCR therefore began to develop a new traffic among the growing number of middle-class commuters who were beginning to live in the south London suburbs, whilst working in London.

As part of its suburban expansion programme, the company built a line from Peckham Ryemarker running roughly parallel to the main line, through East Dulwichmarker, Tulse Hillmarker, Streathammarker, Mitcham, to Suttonmarker and Epsom Downsmarker, which opened in October 1868. From Sutton, a line was constructed jointly with the L&SWR to Wimbledonmarker.

Slip coaches

The LB&SCR appears to have invented the practice of "slipping" coaches from the rear of express trains, at intermediate junctions, for onward transmission. The earliest recorded example was at Haywards Heathmarker in February 1858, where coaches for Hastingsmarker were slipped from a London-Brighton express. Thereafter the practice was used by other railways. Coaches were often slipped at Three Bridgesmarker and then conveyed to East Grinsteadmarker or Horshammarker. The practice continued until the electrification of the main line in 1932.

Freight services

Throughout its existence, the railway was essentially a passenger-carrying concern, with goods and mineral traffic playing a limited role in its receipt. Nevertheless agricultural goods and general merchandise were carried. There were no coal mines in the railway’s territory, and as a result the railway had to pay substantially more for its fuel supplies than other railway companies. This was partially offset by the transportation of shingle for rail ballast from Pevensey.

The main London goods depot was at ‘Willow Walk’, a part of the Bricklayers Armsmarker railway complex, where the railway established their own independent facilities in July 1849. These were enlarged in 1854 after the Brighton company entered into an agreement with the London Chatham and Dover Railway to handle their goods traffic at the Depot. Further extensions were built in 1865 and 1902. Other goods facilities in London existed at Batterseamarker and Deptford Wharfmarker. There was also a discrete goods station at Brightonmarker, adjacent to the passenger station.

The 1867 financial crisis and its impact

The collapse of the bankers Overend, Gurney and Company in 1866 and the subsequent financial crisis the following year, brought the railway to the brink of bankruptcy. The railway had over-extended itself with large capital projects sustained by profits from its passenger traffic, which suddenly declined as a result of the crisis. Recovery during the early 1870s was effected through the business acumen of Samuel Laing, chairman of the company, and its general manager J.P. Knight, who sought to encourage the more intensive use of the existing lines.

Suspension of new capital projects

All work on the construction of new lines was suspended. Three important projects then under construction, were abandoned: namely, the Ouse Valley Railwaymarker, its extension to St Leonards, and the Surrey and Sussex Junction Railway. A fourth project - the linemarker between Tunbridge Wells and Eastbourne - was shelved until the financial situation improved. For the next decade building projects were limited to additional spurs or junctions in London and Brighton to enhance the operation of the existing network, or else small-scale ventures in conjunction with other railway companies. The latter included a short line from Streathammarker through Tootingmarker to Wimbledonmarker in 1868, and a connection from Portsmouth Townmarker to Portsmouth Harbourmarker in 1876, both jointly with the L&SWR.

One new line to which the railway was committed, however, was the ‘’East London Railway’’ a consortium of six railway companies: the Great Eastern Railway (GER); the LB&SCR; the LC&DR; the SER; the Metropolitan Railway; and the Metropolitan District Railway. Which sought to reuse the existing Thames Tunnelmarker built by Marc and Isambard Kingdom Brunel between 1825 and 1843. A new line was therefore built between the LB&SCR at New Crossmarker and Wappingmarker with a link to the GER main line, in March 1869. It was primarily intended for freight transfer between these railways, but the LB&SCR introduced a new passenger service between Liverpool Street Stationmarker and Croydon.

Development of suburban traffic

The railway greatly encouraged the use of its service by commuters into London by reducing the prices of season tickets and introducing special workmen's trains for manual workers in 1870.. This ultimately changed the character of the railway and had a profound influence upon its motive power policy and passenger train services. In the 1870s it lead to the introduction of new standard tank engine classes such as the Terrier and D1 classes under William Stroudley, both of which were originally designed for the London suburban services. When these locomotives became unable to cope with the increased traffic and competition from electric trams in the early twentieth century, it resulted in the electrification of the London suburban network.

Development of excursion and holiday traffic

A LB&SCR poster advertising the Isle of Wight

Excursion trains from London to the South Coast or the Sussex countryside had featured of the London and Brighton Railway since 1844, and were always a feature of the LB&SCR throughout its existence. However after 1870 the company sought to develop this trade and market the south coast resorts, Hayling Islandmarker and the Isle of Wightmarker as holiday destinations, by publishing a range of attractive posters. The railway leased the Hayling Island Branch Line from 1874. On the Isle of Wight the LB&SCR and the L&SWR jointly took over the ferry service from Portsmouth harbour and built new pier facilities at Rydemarker, together with a short railway line from the pier to the existing station at St John's Roadmarker in 1880.

Brighton railway stationmarker was entirely rebuilt and extended in 1882/3, with a new single roof, and Eastbournemarker was likewise rebuilt in 1886, to cope with the additional traffic generated.

The later nineteenth century

By the mid 1870s the company had recovered its financial stability and was able to embark upon new railway building within its traditional area of operation. Some of these new lines passed through sparsely populated areas and merely provided shorter connections to towns which were already a part of the railway network, and so were unlikely ever to be possible. The railway nevertheless went ahead with them, or else co-operated with local companies planning to build them, in an attempt to prevent its rivals, notably the SER, from doing so and thereby moving into its territory.

The ‘Cuckoo’ and ‘Bluebell’ Lines

The scheme to link Eastbourne with Tunbridge Wells was revived in April 1879 with the opening of a line to connect the existing Hailsham branch to Heathfield railway stationmarker. The link was completed the following September with the opening of the line from Heathfield to Eridge, and later became known as the Cuckoo Linemarker.

Likewise in 1877 authority was granted to the Lewes and East Grinstead Railway (L&EGR) for the construction of a line between these towns, roughly parallel to the ‘Cuckoo Line’. This line ran, and was sponsored by a number of local landowners, including the Earl of Sheffield, and also included a branch from Horsted Keynesmarker to Haywards Heathmarker on the Brighton main line. A year later an Act of 1878 enabled the LB&SCR to acquire and operate the new lines which opened in August 1882 and September 1883. The East Grinstead-Lewes line subsequently became known as the “Bluebell line” and following its closure in 1958, the section between Horsted Keynesmarker and Sheffield Parkmarker was taken over by the Bluebell Railwaymarker Preservation Society.

West Sussex and Hampshire

The LB&SCR system in West Sussex was largely completed by 1870 except for a link between Midhurstmarker and Chichestermarker, opened in 1881, improvements around Littlehamptonmarker in 1887 and the opening of a branch to Devil’s Dykemarker in 1887. The LB&SCR and the L&SWR also jointly built a branch from Frattonmarker to Southseamarker in Hampshire in 1887.

Oxted Lines

Although the proposed Surrey and Sussex Junction Railway had been abandoned in 1867, there remained a demand from the citizens of the rapidly growing town of Croydon for a rail link to the South East to towns such as East Grinstead, Tunbridge Wells, and the East Sussex coast. Likewise, the SER was looking for an additional relief route in the same general direction for its Tonbridgemarker and Hastingsmarker services. The two railways therefore collaborated with a proposal for a joint line between South Croydonmarker on the main Brighton line and Oxtedmarker. Beyond Oxted, the LB&SCR would build its own lines to link with the “Bluebell line” at East Grinstead, and it existing line to Tunbridge Wells. The SER trains would join the former main line between Redhill and Tonbridge. Authority for the construction of these lines was granted in 1878 and they were opened for traffic in 1884.

1915 Map showing the LB&SCR "Quarry line" and the original SER line

The Quarry line

For historical reasons, the main London-Brighton line, inherited from the L&BR was shared with the SER between Norwood Junctionmarker and Redhillmarker, with the LB&SCR owning the first half of this stretch as far as Coulsdonmarker, and the SER the remainder. With the growth of traffic during the 1880s the lines around the station at Redhill (where the SER lines to Tonbridgemarker and Guildfordmarker diverged) became particularly congested, thus affecting the efficient operation of the main line. LB&SCR express trains might find themselves delayed behind SER stopping services. Eventually, the LB&SCR decided to build a new line between Coulsdon Northmarker and Earlswoodmarker which became known as the Quarry Line, and which is still used by fast trains avoiding Redhill. It was opened on 8 November 1899 (1 April 1900 for passenger traffic).

Sketch map of LB&SCR routes in 1922.

The twentieth century

During the last two decades of its existence, the LB&SCR opened no new lines, but rather invested in improving its own existing main line and London terminals together with the electrification of its London suburban services.

Brighton Main Line

Following the completion of the Quarry line the bottle-neck on the heavily used main line moved further south. Plans were drawn up for the quadrupling of the tracks throughout, but only the sixteen miles from Earlswood to Balcombe railway stationmarker were ever completed, between 1906 and 1909. Further extension would have involved heavy engineering at the Balcombe tunnelmarker, over the Ouse Valley Viaductmarker, and through the South downs. The required capital expenditure was rather diverted to extending the electrification programme.

Improvements at London

Unlike other main-line railway companies, the LB&SCR never had exclusive use of a London terminus, but had to share both of its London stations with one of its rivals: London Bridge railway stationmarker, with the SER and Victoriamarker, with the LCDR. In 1899 these two railways combined to form the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Operating Compnay. The rapid increase in commuting from the London suburbs towards the end of the nineteenth century created an urgent need to expand the limited facilities at Victoria. During the first decade of the new century the line between Grosvenor Bridgemarker and Victoria was widened and the station rebuilt on a much large scale. During the same period the facilities at London Bridge were also enlarged, but remained a ‘’sprawling confusion’’.

Rail motor services

During the first few years of the twentieth century the railway became concerned about losses incurred on several branch and short-distance passenger services, particularly during the winter months. The directors therefore requested the chief mechanical engineer Robert Billinton to investigate the possible use of either steam or petrol railcars on the lightly used services. Billinton died before examples could be acquired, but in 1905 his successor Douglas Earle Marsh acquired two steam railcars from Beyer, Peacock and Company and two petrol railcars from Dick, Kerr & Co.. These were compared with traditional small steam locomotives of the Stroudley A1 and D1 fitted for "motor train" or "push-pull" working. Neither of the types of railcar were successful being inadequate to cope with traffic fluctuations between winter and summer but the "motor trains" could be adapted by the addition or removal of extra coaches. As a result the experiment provided a new "lease of life" for the Stroudley tank classes, which continued to be used on branch lines for many years after their withdrawal from suburban services. The steam rail cars were sold off after a few years, and the petrol rail cars were used for departmental (non-revenue earning) purposes during the erection of the catenary for the overhead electrification of the London suburban lines.

During the experiments relating to the use of rail cars and motor trains the railway constructed a number of additional unmanned halts between existing country stations, such as Lyons Crossing Haltmarker, or Littlehaven Haltmarker on the Arun Valley Line in an attempt to increase passenger revenues.

Railway electrification

Because of the nature of the LB&SCR traffic with a very large number of commuter journeys over relatively short distances, the railway was an obvious candidate for railway electrification, and sought powers to adapt its suburban lines in 1903. Although the Midland Railway lines from Lancastermarker to Morecambemarker and Heyshammarker had been the first to be converted, the LB&SCR was equally a pioneer in the use of this form of traction in Britain and its lines eventually covered a far greater length of electrified track.

Third-rail electrification systems were usually preferable for suburban schemes, but the LB&SCR board foresaw the future electrification of its main line and also its routes to Portsmouth and therefore decided on a high-tension overhead supply system at 6600 volts AC. This system was of Germanmarker origin and the main contractor was Allgemeine Elektricitats Gesellschaft of Berlinmarker, but some work was sub-contracted to British companies. Power supply was from the London Electric Supply Corporation (LESCo) at Deptfordmarker.

The first section of LB&SCR to be electrified was the South London loop line connecting London Bridge with Victoria via Denmark Hillmarker, which was opened on 1 December 1909. The new service was an immediate success and other routes followed. Thus on 12 May 1911 Victoria–Crystal Palacemarker via Balhammarker and West Norwoodmarker was opened, followed on 3 March 1912 by the line from Peckham Ryemarker to West Norwood. Repair shops for the grwoing electric fleet were established at Peckham Rye, and carriage sheds at Norwood Junctionmarker.

World War I interrupted what was planned to have been considerable further mileage of electrified line, but by 1921 most of the LB&SCR suburban lines were electrified. Plans were being laid to extend the overhead electrification to Brighton and other South Coast resorts. The final installation, carried out by the Southern Railway after the Grouping was the line to Coulsdon Northmarker and Suttonmarker which opened on 1 April 1925.

The First World War

In common with other British railways, the LB&SCR was brought under government control during the First World War. Hitherto it had carried relatively little heavy freight for much of its existence, but this situation changed dramatically at the outbreak of war. The railway was responsible for carrying the bulk of the stores and munitions delivered to the British troops on the Continent, principally through its ports of Newhaven, and (to a lesser degree) Littlehamptonmarker. This included nearly 7 million tons freight including 2.7 million tons of explosives. It necessitated an additional 53,376 freight trains over the four years of the war, as well as an additional 27,366 troop trains.

This additional traffic required substantial improvements to the railway infrastructure notably at Newhaven harbour where electric lighting was installed, but also at Three Bridges where a new freight marshalling yard was established, and at Gatwickmarker and Haywards Heathmarker where passing sidings were constructed so that the frequent passenger trains would not be impeded by the slower moving freight. Some munitions trains were routed to Newhaven via the Steyning Line to Brighton so as to avoid congesting that part of the Brighton main line which only had double tracks.

Grouping and after

The LB&SCR was the smallest of the three mainline railway companies that formed the Southern Railway on 1 January 1923. As a result its officers had relatively little impact on the practices of the new company. It also had a slightly larger loading gauge than its neighbouring companies and so for several years its locomotives and some rolling stock were restricted to their former routes, and so their designs were not perpetuated. The overhead electrification system chosen had proved to be a technical and financial success but proved to be short-lived, since the London and South Western Railway had adopted the third-rail system; and, after grouping, its mileage far exceeded that of the LB&SCR. In 1926 it was announced that, as part of a huge electrification project, all overhead lines were to be converted to third rail operation, thus bringing all lines within the Southern Railway into a common system.

Notable people

Chairmen of the Board of Directors

General Managers

  • J.P. Knight
  • Sir Allen Sarle ( - 1897)
  • John Francis Sykes Gooday (1897-1899)
  • William de Guise Forbes (1899-

Locomotive Superintendents

Carriage and Wagon Superintendent

Buildings and plant

In addition to ownership of the significant viaducts, bridges and tunnels constructed by its predecessor companies, the railway owned a number of other buildings of architectural or engineering interest.


The railway owned twenty termini, the most significant of which were at London Bridgemarker, Victoriamarker, Brightonmarker, Portsmouth Harbourmarker and Eastbournemarker. LB&SCR stations at major junctions on the system included Clapham Junctionmarker, East Croydonmarker, Three Bridgesmarker, Horshammarker, and Lewesmarker.

The railway was perhaps best known for the elaborate decorated architecture of many of its country stations.

Workshops and Motive Power Depots

The railway established a repair workshop at Brightonmarker in 1840. Between 1852 and 1957 more than 1200 steam locomotives as well as prototype diesel electric and electric locomotives were constructed there, before the eventual closure of the facility in 1962. In addition it also maintained a small locomotive repair facility at the New Cross Depotmarker in London.

By the first decade of the twentieth century Brighton works could no longer cope with the repair and building of both locomotives and rolling stock. In 1911 the railway therefore built a carriage and wagon works in the village of Lancingmarker which operated until 1965. A marine engineering workshop was established in the mid 1870s at Newhaven, East Sussexmarker..

In addition to the above the railway had motive power depots at Brightonmarker, Bognormarker, Coulsdonmarker, Croydonmarker, Eastbournemarker, Epsommarker, Frattonmarker (joint) Horshammarker, Littlehamptonmarker, Midhurstmarker, New Crossmarker, Newhavenmarker, St Leonardsmarker, Three Bridgesmarker and Tunbridge Wellsmarker..


The LB&SCR opened the Terminus Hotel at London Bridge stationmarker and the Grosvenor Hotel at Victoriamarker both in 1861. The first of these was not successful due to its site on the south bank and so was turned into offices for the railway in 1892. It was destroyed by bombing in 1941. The Grosvenor Hotel was rebuilt and enlarged in 1901.

Rolling stock

Rolling stock is the collective term that describes all the vehicles that move on a railway, whether powered or unpowered. For the greater part of its existence the railway relied upon steam locomotives for motive power, and it owned no diesel or electric locomotives. The electrified lines were worked by electric multiple units for passenger traffic and by steam for freight. The railway did however experiment with the use of two petrol railcars in 1906 and 1907, but these proved to be highly unreliable and were soon taken out of traffic.

The LB&SCR under Stroudley was one of the first railways in Britain to adopt the Westinghouse railway air brake on its rolling stock after 1877 in preference to the far less effective vacuum brakes employed by its neighbours.

Steam locomotives

The new railway inherited 51 steam locomotives from the Brighton, Croydon and Dover Joint Committee when it was wound up. During the seventy-five years of its existence the company either built or purchased a further 1,055 locomotives. Of, these 620 were handed over to the Southern Railway on 1 January 1923.

The LB&SCR achieved early fame as the first railway to make use of the ’’Jenny Lind’’ 2-2-2 locomotive in 1847, designed by David Joy, the Chief Draughtsman of the E.B.Wilson and Company of Leedsmarker, which was later widely used by other railways. The policy of John Chester Craven, Locomotive Superintendent from 1847 to 1869, was to design locomotives for each task or type of traffic hauled by the railway. As a result there were 72 different classes in use at the time of William Stroudley’s appointment in 1870.

Stroudley had reduced this number to twelve main classes, many of which had interchangeable parts, by 1888 . He introduced a number of extremely successful and long-lived designs, notably the A1 class 0-6-0 and D1 class 0-4-2 tank engines and the B1 class 0-4-2 express passenger locomotives. His designs were limited to 6-wheels, largely because of the limitations imposed by the LB&SCR turntables, notably at London Victoria.

Stroudley’s successor R. J. Billinton continued the process of standardisation of locomotive parts until his death in 1904, thereby reducing maintenance costs. He also introduced 8-wheeled designs in the form of 4-4-0 express locomotives and a very successful series of 0-6-2 tank engines with radial axless. Thereafter D.E. Marsh continued the process of building larger locomotives with two classes of 4-4-2 express passenger locomotives, four classes of 4-4-2 tank engines, and two classes of 4-6-2 tank engines.

The last Chief Mechanical Engineer of the railway was L.B. Billinton who designed the K class 2-6-0 of 1913, and the L class 4-6-4 tanks of 1914. However, his career was cut short by the advent of the First World War and the subsequent grouping of British railways. According to D.L. Bradley, the railway handed over “a nicely balanced stock of locomotives well-suited to the demands of the Brighton section’’ to the Southern Railway at the time of the grouping in 1923.

LB&SCR designs had little impact on the locomotive policy of the Southern Railway after 1923 because they were built to a more generous loading gauge and were fitted with Westinghouse air brakes unlike the two other main constitutent companies.

Electric traction

The electrified lines were operated by Electric multiple units. These were originally three-car units, with a trailer sandwiched between motor cars. However, they were later converted into two-car units with one driving motor car and one driving trailer. The following classes of multiple unit were used:

Coaching stock

The jobs of Locomotive Superintendent and Carriage and wagon superintendent were combined until the retirement of D.E. Marsh in 1911. As a result the LB&SCR was never at the forefront of carriage development in the United Kingdom for its ordinary coaching stock, and as late as the mid 1860s was still building open-side 3rd-class carriages. However, William Stroudley was a pioneer in the introduction of electric lighting and communication cords. The appointment of Alfred Panter as Carriage and Wagon Works Manager in 1898 (and Carriage and Wagon Superintendent from 1912) led to the introduction of standard bogie carriages for mainline trains in 1905, but the suburban services were operated by 6-wheeled ‘’block trains’’ with solid wooden buffers and the carriages permanently tight coupled in sets of ten or twelve.

Five carriages of LB&SCR origin have been preserved including one luxurious ‘Directors’ saloon’’ of 1914: these are principally to be found on the Bluebell Railwaymarker and the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. In addition a number of grounded carriage bodies, used as holiday homes still survive.

Pullman-car trains

The LB&SCR pioneered the running of the all-Pullman train in England. Pullman cars had been introduced on the Midland Railway in 1874, followed by the Great Northern Railway soon after, and the LB&SCR itself in 1875. ]]

  • The "Pullman Limited Express" 5 December 1881 the LB&SCR inaugurated the first all-Pullman train. It consisted of four cars (built at the Pullman Car Company workshops in Derbymarker): "Beatrice", "Louise", "Maud" and "Victoria"; these were the first electrically-lit coaches to run on a British railway. The "Pullman Limited Express" made two down and two up trips per day, and one each way on Sundays. In 1887 the name of the service was changed to "Brighton Pullman Limited"; by now first-class carriages were also attached to the train. A new train was built in 1888: three brand-new Pullmans were shipped over in parts from the Pullman Palace Car Company in America, and erected by the LB&SCR at Brighton.
  • The "Brighton Limited" was introduced on Sunday 2 October 1898. It ran only on Sundays, and not at all during the holiday months July–September. From the beginning the new train was timed to make the journey from Victoria in one hour: "London to Brighton in one hour" was the advertisement then used for the first time. On 21 December 1902 it made a record run of 54 minutes. It then hit the headlines again when, faced with the threat of a competing electric railway being built from London to Brighton, the "Limited" was run to Brighton in 48 mins 41 secs, and the return to London in 50 mins 21 secs, thus matching the schedule put forward by the promoters of the new electric line.
  • "The “Southern Belle" On 8 November 1908 the LB&SCR introduced what it described as "the most luxurious train in the World" – "The Southern Belle". By 1910 two trips each way were running every day; later three were run on Sundays.
Third-class Pullman cars began running on Sunday 12 September 1915 from Victoria to Brighton and Eastbournemarker.


Sixteen wagons formerly in LB&SCR ownership now survive, largely because the Southern Railway transferred them to the Isle of Wightmarker, where they remained in use until the 1960s..


After 1870 the LB&SCR was renowned among British railways for the attractiveness of its locomotives and coaching stock and condition of its country stations


Passenger locomotives were painted 'hunter green' with some engines being finished with black lining. Frames were painted red, and wheels were black. Buffer beams were painted the regulation 'signal red'. Goods locomotives were black with red and white lining, except those operating on routes taking them into Brightonmarker or London Bridge railway stationmarker, in which cases they were painted in passenger livery. Some engines had boilers lagged with wooden strips. These were either highly polished mahogany with brass fixings or were painted in alternating stripes of dark green and vermillion. The main shade of green used gradually became darker. By the time William Stroudley became Locomotive Superintendent the colour had become a variant of the common Brunswick Green used by many other companies. Carriages were either painted sea green or were left as varnished wood (the latter mainly being applied to first class stock).


Stroudley introduced his famous 'Improved Engine Green', which was actually a golden ochre colour. The colour was very similar to that used by Stroudley's former employer, the Highland Railway. On passenger locomotives Improved Engine Green was finished with olive greenmarker borders lined with black, red and white. Frames and buffer beams were painted carmine red, lined with yellow and black. The wheels were Improved Engine Green with red lining. Cab roofs were painted white.
Goods engines were painted all-over olive greenmarker with black borders, similar to the pre-1870 colours. If fitted with Westinghouse brakes the black borders were edged with red lines. Locomotives with names had the name applied in gold leaf to the tank side (on tank locomotives) or to a wheel splasher on tender locomotives. The letters were edged with a thin red line and given depth with black shading. This livery was one of the most ornate and distinctive ever used on British locomotives, and is still remembered with nostalgia. Carriages were all mahogany in colour, with white roofs and black chassis gear. Initially the actual wood of the body was varnished. Over the years it became harder to maintain a high-quality varnish finish and so at this point in the carriage's life it would be painted in a similar-coloured paint. Panel lining and other details were picked out with gold leaf.


During this period front-line express locomotives were painted a dark shade of umber. Lining was black with a gilt line either side. Cab roofs remained white. Frames were painted black, wheels were umber, and buffer beams returned to signal red. The company's initials were painted on the tender- or tank-sides (initially 'L.B.& S.C.R.', but after 1911 the ampersand was left out and the R removed) in gilt. Secondary passenger locomotives had the same livery, but instead of gilt lining chrome yellow paint was used. Goods engines were painted gloss black with double vermillion lining. Names and numbers were painted in white letters with red shading. Carriages were initially all olive green with white lining and detailing. From 1911 this was changed to plain umber with black lettering picked out with gold shading.

Ferry Services

Throughout its existence, the railway invested in cross channel ferry services, initially the services were from Shoreham to Dieppe, but following the opening of the line to Newhaven in 1847 the railway invested in the improvement of this harbour, building it own wharf, and dredging. In 1863 the LBSCR and the Chemin de Fer de l‘Ouest agreed to run the Newhaven-Dieppe passenger service jointly. In the same year, the railway introduced a short-lived ferry between Littlehampton-and the Channel Islands. Newhaven harbour was taken over by the military authorities and the ferries requisitioned for the duration of the First World War.

By 1880 railway lines connected to both the Rydemarker Pier and the Portsmouth Harbour ferry terminals. It was therefore a natural progression for the railway companies to acquire the ferry routes themselves. In order to do this the LB&SCR and the L&SWR together formed the South Western and Brighton Railway Companies Steam Packet Service (SW&BRCSPS) which bought out the existing operators..

In 1884 the Isle of Wight Marine Transit Company started a rail freight ferry link between the Hayling Island Branch line at Langstonemarker and the Bembridge branch line at St Helensmarker quay. To provide the link the rail ferry PS Carrier was moved from Scotland. The project was unsuccessful and despite being acquired in full by the LB&SCR in 1886 ended in 1888 .

See also


  1. p.253-71.
  2. p.253-71.
  3. p.1032-3.
  4. Ellis, (1979) pp.98-9.
  5. .
  6. p.98
  7. Turner, J.T. Howard (1978) p. 175.
  8. Turner, J.T. Howard (1978) p.22.
  9. Turner, J.T. Howard (1978) p.121 and 232.
  10. Turner, J.T. Howard (1978) p.241 and Turner, J.T. Howard (1979) 154.
  11. p.89.
  12. p.3-14.
  13. Turner, J.T. (1977) p.187
  14. Turner, J.T. (1979) p.66
  15. , pp 189-190.
  16. p.97
  17. Heap and van Riemsdijk (1980) p.78.
  18. Bradley (1974) pp.62-68.
  19. Ellis, (1971) p.199.
  20. .
  21. p.1032-1041.
  22. p.1038-9.
  23. .
  24. p.64-65.
  25. p.173.
  26. p.69-72.
  27. Accworth, (1888). P.98.
  28. Bradley (1974) p.126.
  29. p.46.
  30. Ellis (1979) p.69.
  31. Ellis(1979) p.200.
  32. Acworth (1888) p.94).
  33. Cooper (1990) pp.46-54.
  34. .
  35. Cooper (1990) pp. 55-64.
  36. Acworth (1888) p.91-2.


  • p. 3.
  • Cooper, B. K., Rail Centres: Brighton, Booklaw Publications, 1981. ISBN 1-901945-11-1
  • Gray, Adrian, The London to Brighton Line 1841-1977, The Oakwood Press, 1977 [no ISBN]
  • Searle, Muriel V., Down the line to Brighton, Baton Transport, 1986. ISBN 0-85936-239-6
  • Turner, John Howard (1977), The London Brighton and South Coast Railway 1 Origins and Formation, Batsford, ISBN 0-7134-0275-X
  • Turner, John Howard (1978), The London Brighton and South Coast Railway 2 Establishment and Growth, Batsford, ISBN 0-7134-11-98-8

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