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LMS through portions

LMS passenger train formations are not easy to deal with because the surviving records are uneven. Clive Carter focussed very well on named expresses in "Passenger Train Formations 1923-1983, LMS-LM Region", Clive Carter, Ian Allan, 1983, and this is an attempt to cast a wider net, here looking at working of through portions, which used to be a common device to save passengers having to change trains. And in territory away from the WCML, although a classic has already been covered under "The Lakes Express" topic and its write-up in Model Rail (see links below).


In summer there used to be an LMS express between Gloucester and Bournemouth which travelled via Bath and the Somerset & Dorset line. In winter, when the traffic was lighter, the train started as a mere pair of coaches that were taken to Bath Green Park via the important route between Cheltenham and Gloucester to Bristol.

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The first picture was taken in 1936 on the approach to Standish Junction and gives the impression of quadruple track, but was actually the ex-MR line near the camera running alongside the GWR line. Two coaches did not require heavy haulage and 2P 4-4-0s were used, as seen here with No. 528 (22A) in charge. Note that Express lights are being carried. The two coaches were:


3rd brake

Period III


1st/3rd composite

Period I

Note that the brake-ended carriage was 57ft long while the composite was 60ft long. The P.III coach is recognisably late 1930s with steel panelling, while the PI composite is wood-panelled and beaded, and from the late 1920s when side-doors were being dropped and twin windows were provided for each compartment, one with a droplight. Commonly called the "two window" design, the concept developed into single "picture" windows with sliding ventilators. Here, the corridor side is visible with an array of large windows. I've stressed this to underline how the LMS underwent significant stylistic changes and that they were routinely mixed rather than as many modellers believe, operated separately.

At Bath the portion was transferred to a conventional express for Bournemouth. Photo: LGRP.

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The second picture was taken in 1937 and several miles further south near Wickwar. 2P No 396 (22A) is in charge and the formation is the same except that the composite has been modernised with the P.III version. In the background by the crossing are cast iron notices erected by the Midland Railway. Photo: Real Photos.

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St.Pancras to the West Riding

Bradford and Halifax were important industrial centres but geographically hemmed in by the Pennines and never on a through main line. That's why so many through coaches and portions were despatched, many of them to London, to King's Cross, St.Pancras and even Marylebone.

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Midland Compound No 1061 is heading north near Mill Hill with an express from St.Pancras, the photo captioned on the rear as "Down Leeds-Bradford". The latter was Forster Square station and reached via Leeds Wellington St., later part of the renamed Leeds City, with complete trains sent through because storage at Leeds was limited. I have yet to identify the precise train in this picture but note the brake composite behind the tender and wonder if this was a through carriage to Halifax - which would have been detached at Sheffield Midland and sent on from there via a West Riding service?

I am not completely sure yet but believe that the BCK was the first P.1 design, 57ft long, to D1754.

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Other LMS passenger train formations and related topics are here:

The Lakes Express

LMS brake composites

LMS Milk

Coal for Stonebridge Park

LMS horse and race traffic is included here

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LNER Passenger Trains and Formations

The book took 12 years for me and Clive to complete and, though I say so myself, Ian Allan have made a beautiful job of it (see full description and sample pages). Vol.2 about the Secondary Services should follow in a year or so's time.

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