Southern Railway
John Harvey

HistoryHMRS drawing 4322

The Southern Railway was formed in 1923 mainly from the London and South Western (LSWR), the London Brighton and South Coast (LBSCR) and the South Eastern and Chatham Railways (SECR) as well as minor lines in the South of England, the event being known as 'The Amalgamation'.  After a somewhat difficult start, perhaps to be expected when three organisations with broadly similar management structures need to be brought together, the Company emerged under the leadership of (Sir) Herbert Walker as General Manager. Possibly the outstanding railway manager of his generation, Walker had the vision to see how the railway could prosper against the competition from newer forms of transport and the government imposed caps on the rates that the railway could charge. This vision became tangible in the form of electrification schemes, including the main line routes to Brighton and Portsmouth, the development of intercontinental traffic as a result of investment in the Docks particularly at Southampton and Dover, also an interest in the fledgling Railway Air Services.


Rolling stockAAE729

Rolling stock was under the charge of R E L Maunsell until 1937, and having developed many ideas at Ashford (SECR) implementation continued on the SR, often being based on Eastleigh (LSWR) designs, examples being the King Arthur locomotives and the carriage stock which evolved from the LSWR Ironclad design which was the most modern on the newly formed railway.  Each of the former railways had had their own Works possibly for the production but certainly for the maintenance of locomotive, carriage and wagon stock: Ashford (SECR), Eastleigh (LSWR) and Brighton/Lancing (LBSCR).  Under Maunsell these facilities were rationalised so that Locomotive Work became centred on Ashford and Eastleigh, Carriage maintenance at Lancing with new construction at Eastleigh, and wagon building and maintenance mostly at Ashford.



Later years

O V S Bulleid, from the LNER was appointed as Chief Mechanical Engineer upon Maunsell's retirement in 1937. With the SR Board having doubts about the wisdom of further electrification at this time, Bulleid set about the design of new locomotives and produced the Merchant Navy, West Country/Battle of Britain, and Q1 classes, each with certain radical features. After WW2 he was able to produce a new range of carriage stock that incorporated aspects of previous designs, such as the bogies. Maunsell had been responsible for the production of three diesel shunting locomotives, but Bulleid produced further designs that included three main line diesel-electric locomotives and three electric locomotives in conjunction with the Electrical Engineer Alfred Raworth.
The available investment having been concentrated in the foregoing areas, aged but successful designs of rolling stock continued in use on many lesser lines. As a result, at the time of nationalisation in 1948 the Southern was a railway that could present considerable contrasts: modern electric and steam services on many main lines with many pre-Grouping designs on branches and other lines.



HMRS resources

The Society holds a large amount of information about the Southern Railway, not only in the library and archives, but also over 1500 drawings and 800 photos. For the modeller there are several sheets of transfers available, and for information on the appearance of the line after nationalisation there is our book Southern Style.



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