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Pre-Grouping & Other Companies
Railway Companies in Great Britain before 1923
Pre-Grouping is a term to distinguish railway companies and their history before the creation of the ‘Big Four’ companies at the start of 1923. This was a result of the Railways Act 1921 which aimed to reduce financial losses through the benefits of consolidation, as seen during the state control of railways in the First World War period, and eliminate wasteful rivalry and competition between companies covering similar routes.
Many hundreds of individual companies were formed with private investment across Great Britain from 1830, following the success of early pioneering companies such as the Stockton & Darlington Railway and Manchester and Liverpool Railway. As these proliferated take-overs and amalgamation began from the earliest days, such that the consolidated companies grew into larger and more powerful concerns. By 1921, around 120 separate pre-grouping companies remained.
The Great Western Railway (GWR) was the only pre-grouping company to retain its name and become one of the Big Four companies in 1923. The major pre-grouping companies consolidated into the other companies were as follows:
Southern Railway (SR) - London & South Western Railway (LSWR), South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SECR), and London, Brighton & South Coast Railway (LBSCR);
London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) - Midland Railway (MR), London & North Western Railway (LNWR), Caledonian Railway (CR); Highland Railway (HR), Glasgow & South Western Railway (GSWR), and Northern Counties Committee (NCC(I));
London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) - Great Northern Railway (GNR), Great Eastern Railway (GER), North Eastern Railway (NER), Great Central Railway (GCR), Great Northern Railway (GNR), North British Railway (NBR), and Great North of Scotland Railway (GNSR).
Each of these companies is covered in these category listings, either in total or through the sub-categories on the left of this page. Click the book image for more details including the examples we have in stock.
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