Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway

From Graces Guide

The Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway (M&GN) was a joint railway owned by the Midland Railway (MR) and the Great Northern Railway (GNR) in eastern England. [1]

Known locally as the Midland and Great Northern Railway (without the word 'Joint'). Also known as the ‘Muddle and Get Nowhere Railway’ – where drivers were not unknown to stop their trains near Sandringham to help themselves to the odd rabbit from a poacher’s snare

Marriott's Way was named after William Marriott who was the chief engineer of the former Midland and Great Northern railway for 41 years.

The line was established as the Eastern and Midlands Railway, amalgamating all of the Wilkinson and Jarvis lines in Norfolk.

The main line ran from Peterborough to Great Yarmouth via South Lynn and Melton Constable. Branches ran from Sutton Bridge to an end-on junction with the Midland Railway at Saxby, near Bourne, Lincolnshire, and from Melton Constable to Cromer and Norwich. There was also a short spur connecting South Lynn to King's Lynn and the docks.

The section of line between Cromer and Sheringham is still in use today, whilst the track beyond Sheringham is in use as a preserved railway - the North Norfolk Railway.

1893 As from July 1st, the Eastern and Midlands Railway has become the property of the Midland Railway and Great Northern Railway companies. The railway is managed by a joint committee appointed by the two companies, who have equal rights in the undertaking. [2]

The Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway was formed in 1893 by the amalgamation of many smaller local lines, rather than being conceived from the start as a single trunk route. However, it offered its two parents - the MR and the GNR - access to the ports of East Anglia, and also enabled them to develop what became a lucrative source of revenue from holiday traffic from the industrial Midlands to the east coast resorts. It was easily the longest joint railway system in the UK, exceeding 180 miles (295km).

Until the creation of the M&GN, the Great Eastern Railway (GER) held a near-monopoly on East Anglian traffic and had assumed that their network meant there were no population centres left to connect. However, the GER lines were mostly north to south, centred on London, leaving an opening for the smaller companies that later became the M&GN to thread their way east to west between the GER lines, and in this way connected the major towns of Norfolk (Great Yarmouth, Norwich, King's Lynn) and many other smaller centres via the MR and GNR networks to the Midlands and the North. Much of the route was single-track, and the gradient profiles were steep. Despite this, the M&GN was able to put up a spirited competition with the shorter GER route to London from Cromer, although it was never able to equal the GER's excellent timings. However, King's Cross terminus (GNR) was nearer the west end of London, and some passengers preferred to use the M&GN route. The main thrust of M&GN services was to and from the Midlands. The goods traffic was also very heavy, particularly coal inwards, and fruit, vegetables, other agricultural products and fish outwards. The single track (approximately 60% of the route mileage), although operated by the most up-to-date methods (the electric train tablet system) did make the seasonal peak loads difficult to handle - August Bank Holiday weekends were particularly difficult, with waves of special trains from and to the Midlands having to thread their way through the normal traffic of local trains and freights. Typical daily flows during the peak usually exceeded 100 trains.

As well as local traffic, the M&GN created a series of regular long-distance services, linking, eg, London King's Cross to Cromer, and with regular daily services from Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Leeds, Birmingham and Leicester to South Lynn, Cromer, Norwich and Great Yarmouth.

The M&GN's administrative headquarters was at Austin Street, King's Lynn, but its engineering centre and the heart of the system was at Melton Constable: before the railway arrived this village had a population of just over 100 people. Within a few years it had grown ten-fold, with almost all the new arrivals employed by the railway and living in company-built housing, and it acquired the nickname of "the Crewe of North Norfolk".

1898 Built a 22.5 mile line as a branch to Mundesley

With Grouping in 1923, the M&GN became jointly owned by the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) and the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS), but it retained its own identity and operated much as it had before the Grouping.

The M&GN was formally operationally incorporated into the LNER in 1936, although it remained heavily dependent on the LMS to provide the bulk of its longer-distance traffic. Most of the Melton Constable engineering centre was closed at this time, as was the Austin Street (King's Lynn) administrative headquarters. The system remained jointly owned by the LNER and LMS.

With the creation of the nationalised British Railways corporation in 1948, the M&GN looked vulnerable. It was one of the first major closures with the bulk of its routes shut in 1959; displaced traffic mostly transferring to the former GER routes. Throughout its years of operation under many different owners, and notwithstanding the high proportion of its route that was single-track, it was an extremely safe system - not a single passenger was killed on the M&GN.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] Wikipedia
  2. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908