John Speller's Web Pages London, Tilbury & Southend Railway

John Speller's Web Pages - Midland Railway
London, Tilbury & Southend Railway
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The London, Tilbury & Southend Railway was authorized by an Act of Parliament of 17 June 1852. It depended on the London & Blackwall Railway to run into Fenchurch Street Station and was initially worked by the Great Eastern Railway. The LT&SR began operating its own lines in 1880 and at this time purchased its first locomotives from Sharp, Stewart & Co., who sent the youthful Thomas Whitelegg to be Locomotive Superintendent. He remained until 1910, when he was succeeded by his son Robert Harben Whitelegg. Except for a small batch of 0-6-0 goods engines, the LT&SR locomotive stock was comprised exclusively of tank engines. These included several classes of 4-4-2 tanks and R. H. Whitelegg's celebrated 4-6-4 tank class.

Besides the line to the Great Eastern Railway's station Fenchurch Street there was also a connection via the Romford branch to the Great Eastern's main terminus at Liverpool Street and a third connection to the Midland Railway to St. Pancras station. In 1902 the LT&SR and Metropolitan District constructed the Whitechapel and Bow Railway as a joint venture, allowing through running between the two companies. The Whitechapel and Bow section was electrified in 1905.

In 1912 the Midland Railway bought out the London, Tilbury & Southend Railway from under the nose of the impecunious Great Eastern Railway. Proposals to electrify the rest of the system came to nothing as a result of the First World War, and though the idea was revived after the Grouping of 1923, the LMS did not have the money to proceed with electrification either. In 1934 Sir William Stanier brought out a class of 3-cylinder 2-6-4 tank locomotive to work the London, Tilbury & Southend services. Three cylinders were felt to provide better acceleration than two between the frequent stops on the line. The engines, however, were unfortunately under-boilered and proved to be very poor steamers. The motive power problem of this heavily-trafficked suburban rail system was only finally solved with the belated electrification of the lines under British Railways' ownership in 1962.

In 1886 the East and West India Dock Company built a new dock at Tilbury, the largest in London. Besides the long-established ferry service from Tilbury to Gravesend, the port of Tilbury was a stopping point for ocean liners of the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company in the first half of the twentieth century. It is today Britain's largest port for container traffic to and from the Continent.
Map of the London, Tilbury & Southend Railway and Connections
Some of the London, Tilbury & Southend Railway's Locomotive, Carriage & Wagon Department staff in front of "37" Class 4-4-2T No. 39 "Forest Gate," built 1897. Among those seated in the middle are: 1, Thomas Whitelegg, Locomotive Superintendent (1880-1910) and 2, Robert Harben Whitelegg, Assistant Locomotive Superintendent (1905-1910) and Locomotive Superintendent (1910-1912)
Southend Express behind Thomas Whitelegg Class "51" 4-4-2 tank No. 54 "Mile End" in a postcard view of around 1910
LT&SR express heading for Fenchurch Street behind Thomas Whitelegg "79" Class 4-4-2 tank No. 80 "Thundersley" in a postcard view of around 1910
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