London, Midland and Scottish Railway

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See also: London Midland for the new (2007) railway company
File:LMS shield on station in leeds.jpg
LMS crest, carved into the stonework at Leeds station.

The London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS[1]) was a British railway company. It was formed on 1 January 1923 as part of the forced Grouping of over 300 separate railway companies into just four. It was an unwieldy construction, claiming to be the world's largest joint stock organisation, the largest transport organisation, and the largest commercial undertaking in Europe (although they did not say on what basis), including the largest chain of hotels. In 1938, the LMS operated 6,870 route miles (11,056 km) of railway (excluding its lines in Northern Ireland), but it was not very profitable with a rate of return of only 2.7%. Along with the other British railway companies, the LMS was nationalised in 1948.


The LMS was formed from the following major companies:

There were also some 24 subsidiary railways, leased or worked by the above companies, and large number of joint railways (including the UK's largest Joint Railway, the Midland & Great Northern, and one of the most famous, the Somerset and Dorset). In Ireland there were three railways:

  • Dundalk, Newry and Greenore Railway 26.5 miles (42.6 km)
  • Northern Counties Committee 265.25 miles (426.9 km)
  • Joint Midland and Great Northern of Ireland Railway 91 miles (146 km), with interests in Ireland

Most of the above operated in what became Northern Ireland

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

For complete list of all railways see List of constituents of the LMS.


File:London Midland Scottish Rly 1935 Map.jpg
Contemporary 1935 map of LMS system. Other railways' lines are omitted.

The principal LMS trunk routes were the West Coast Main Line and the Midland Main Line, which linked London, the industrial Midlands and North-West of England, and Scotland.

The railway's main business was the transport of freight between these major industrial centres. Particularly notable were the TotonBrent coal trains, which took coal from the Nottinghamshire coalfield to London.


Early history

The early history of the LMS is dominated by infighting between its two largest constituents (and previously fierce rivals), the Midland and the North Western, each of which believed that their company's way was the right — and only — way of doing business. Generally, the Midland prevailed, with the adoption of many Midland practices, such as the livery of crimson lake for passenger locomotives and rolling stock. Perhaps most notable was the continuation of the Midland Railway's small engine policy.


The Stanier revolution

The arrival of the new Chief Mechanical Engineer William Stanier, who was head-hunted from the Great Western Railway by Josiah Stamp in 1933, heralded a change in the LMS. Stanier introduced new ideas rather than continuing with the company's internal conflict.


The war-damaged LMS was nationalised in 1948 by the Transport Act 1947, becoming part of British Railways. It formed the London Midland Region and part of the Scottish Region. British Railways subsequently transferred the lines in Northern Ireland to the Ulster Transport Authority in 1949. The lines in Great Britain were rationalised through selective closure in the 1950s to 70s but the main routes survive and some have been developed for 125 mph inter-city services.

Rolling stock



The LMS owned many canals, including the Montgomeryshire Canal, Ellesmere Canal and Chester Canal.

Many of its canals were later abandoned by Act of Parliament, instigated by LMS. Those that were not abandoned passed to the control of the British Transport Commission, at nationalisation; and ownership subsequently transferred to the British Waterways Board.



  • Gammell, C.J., (1980), LMS Branch Lines, 1945 - 1965, Oxford Publishing Company, ISBN 0-86093-062-9
  • Hendry, R.P. and Hendry, R.P., (1982), An Historical Survey of selected LMS Stations, Layouts and Illustrations, Volume 1, Oxford Publishing Company, ISBN 0-86093-168-4
  • Nock, O.S., (1982), A History of the LMS. Vol. 1: The First Years, 1923-1930, George Allen & Unwin, ISBN 0-04-385087-1
  • Nock, O.S., (1982), A History of the LMS. Vol. 2: The Record Breaking 'Thirties, 1931-1939, George Allen & Unwin, ISBN 0-04-385093-6
  • Welbourn, N., (1994), Lost Lines: LMR, Ian Allan, ISBN 0-7110-2277-1
  • Whitehouse, P. and Thomas, D.St J., (1995), LMS 150: the London, Midland & Scottish Railway: a century and a half of progress, Greenwich Editions, ISBN 0-86288-071-8 [Recommended for general overview]


  1. It has been argued that the initials LMSR should be used to be consistent with LNER, GWR and SR. However the London, Midland and Scottish Railway's corporate image used LMS, and this is what is generally used in historical circles. The LMS occasionally also used the initials LM&SR. For consistency, Wikipedia uses the initials LMS.

External links

The "Big Four" pre-nationalisation British railway companies
v  d  e

Great Western London Midland & Scottish London & North Eastern Southern

GWR constituents: Great Western RailwayCambrian RailwaysTaff Vale Railway
Barry RailwayRhymney Railway(Full list)
LNER constituents: Great CentralGreat EasternGreat NorthernGreat North of Scotland
Hull & BarnsleyNorth BritishNorth Eastern(Full list)
LMS constituents: CaledonianFurnessGlasgow & South WesternHighland
Lancashire & YorkshireLondon and North WesternMidlandNorth Staffordshire(Full list)
SR constituents: London and South Western RailwayLondon, Brighton and South Coast Railway
South Eastern RailwayLondon, Chatham and Dover Railway(Full list)

See also: History of rail transport in Great Britain 1923 - 1947List of companies involved in the grouping