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London  &  Birmingham  Railway

Rail Album for railway and other photographs

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Mr J G Bourne documented the building of the London & Birmingham Railway by producing a series of lithograph prints. Many of them are reproduced here, along with prints by others, such as T T Bury. Some of the line's features still exist today, more than a century and a half after construction.  
The London & Birmingham Railway amalgamated with the Grand Junction Railway and the Manchester & Birmingham Railway on 16th July 1846 to form the London & North Western Railway (LNWR), the largest of the pre-grouping companies, which promoted itself under the title of "The Premier Line".  At the grouping it became part of the London, Midland & Scottish Railway.   
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
Euston was the first main line railway station to be built in London. This print shows the famous Doric Arch at Euston Square in 1838, with the station building just through it and to the right. The view is from Euston Road, which in those days was called New Road.
  Trains were hauled by rope up the incline from Euston to Camden, where a locomotive took over. Improvements in steam locomotive technology soon resulted in rope haulage being abandoned and steam power being used throughout the journey. The locomotive servicing facilities remained at Camden.
The terminus was originally to be at Camden (Chalk Farm) and this was commemorated in a siding there being called Terminus Siding. However, on 3rd July 1835 an Act was obtained authorising the extension of the line to Euston Grove. The land used for Euston station belonged to Rhodes Farm. The original intention was for the Great Western Railway to terminate adjacent to the London & Birmingham at Euston, but that plan was later dropped.

Rail Album for railway and other photographs
Behind the great Doric Arch at Euston was the more modest building seen on the left of this picture. The open carriages at the departure stage (the far platform) are for third class passengers. People are passing the time on the arrival stage, though they do not appear to be expecting a train for a while yet.

  W H Smith & Sons erected their first railway bookstall in 1848 at Euston station.
Two of the side buildings next to the Euston Arch are still in existence today and they list the destinations you could get to from here, carved into the stones. Unfortunately the arch was demolished in the 1960s, but the magnificent building at the other end of the line still exists at Curzon Street in Birmingham. 

Rail Album for railway and other photographs
The 40 foot span roof trusses at Euston were themselves something of an engineering masterpiece. As this diagram says "presumed to be the first iron roof constructed on this principle".

Rail Album for railway and other photographs
A busy scene inside Euston station with a train having just arrived at the arrival stage, the platform on the right.
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
The area marked "Unoccupied Ground belonging to the Company" was acquired to accommodate the proposed terminus of the Great Western Railway (GWR). In the event the GWR terminus was instead built at Paddington. Euston station later grew by building upon the previously unoccupied land.
Rail Album for railway and other photographs
When Euston station was being rebuilt this carriage turntable was unearthed. The locations of the original turntables can be seen on the above map of Euston.

  London & Birmingham Railway Diary of Events
6th May 1833 - Royal Assent to the Act incorporating the London & Birmingham Railway Company
20th July 1837 - opened to Boxmoor.
1st January 1838 - opened to Tring.
9th April 1838 - opened to Denbigh Hall.
20th September 1838 - line opened throughout.
1838 - locomotive works established at Wolverton.

Rail Album for railway and other photographs
After leaving Euston station the line soon passed under the Hampstead Road bridge.  This is the view back towards Euston. This stretch of line was originally rope hauled and locomotives did not venture down to Euston station.  This 1837 picture appears to depict an early experiment at steam locomotive haulage on the incline.

Rail Album for railway and other photographs
A departing rope hauled train crossing the Regents Canal Bridge as it heads up the Camden Bank.

  London & Birmingham Railway Amalgamations
1845 - amalgamated with the Manchester & Birmingham Railway.
16th July 1846 - amalgamated with the Grand Junction Railway to form the London & North Western Railway. Initially known as the LNWR's L&B Division.
1847 - became LNWR's Southern Division. London & Birmingham Railway locos retained their running numbers during this period.
1862 - amalgamated with the LNWR's Northern Division. Former London & Birmingham Railway locomotives had 600 added to their running numbers.

Rail Album for railway and other photographs
This map from 1850 shows the Camden locomotive depot. The two small rectangles either side of the main line are the winding engines that raised and lowered trains between there and Euston station. The canal is the Regents Canal. 

Rail Album for railway and other photographs
The winding house under construction at Camden, and in the distance the large steam locomotive depot. Power for the incline to Euston was provided by two large beam engines located in the building under construction in the foreground. At the time this images was made the two tall chimneys that dominated this area and served the two winding engine boilers had yet to be finished. 

 Rail Album for railway and other photographs
Camden Town locomotive shed. The stub points in the foreground are clearly visible, along with the winding mechanism to operate them. The right-hand two tracks run between the two chimneys and then down the incline into Euston. The chimneys served the boilers of the winding engines that powered the incline. A locomotive looks as if it is waiting for its coaches to reach the top of the incline, where it will couple up and head for Birmingham.

Rail Album for railway and other photographs
Locomotive number 32 at the Camden Town shed. The man is operating the winding mechanism for changing the stub point. On stub points the whole pair of rails was moved to line up with one of the two routes, instead of using point blades. This technology was soon replaced by the use of point blades, but remarkably continued in use on railways serving the Welsh slate quarry industry into the 1960s. Note the railway track decoration on the building.
London & Birmingham Railway steam locomotive 32 was a "Bury" type 2-2-0 built by Mather Dixon & Co of Bath Street in Liverpool in 1837. The driving wheels were 5 ft 6 in diameter and the cylinders were 12 in diameter x 18 in long. The locomotive was still in use when the LNWR was formed in 1846, and was replaced in 1848 or 1849.

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