John Speller's Web Pages Southern Electric

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The main driving force behind the Southern Railway's love affair with electrification was the very progressive Sir Herbert Ashcombe Walker, KCB (1868-1949), who was successively General Manager of the London & South Western Railway 1912-1923 and of the Southern Railway 1924-1937. The London & South Western Railway made the decision to electrify its suburban lines out of Waterloo in 1913, adopting the 600v DC third-rail system that had been introduced on the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway in 1904. The first section to be completed was from Waterloo to Wimbledon, via East Putney, which opened on 25 October 1915. This was followed by Clapham Junction to Twickenham, Kingston & Shepperton on 30 January 1916. Then Barnes to Hounslow and Twickenham section was next, opening on 12 March 1916. This amazing rate of progress continued with the opening of the line from New Malden to Hampton Court went live on 18 June 1916, but then World War I caught up with the scheme. and the plan to electrify the Guildford line was cut back to Claygate, opening on 20 November 1916. After this the electrication project was put on hold, and only taken up by the Southern Railway after the Grouping of 1923. The Southern Railway adopted 750v DC third rail as their standard and by the 1930s had electrified pretty much all its suburban services and was extending electrification to its outer suburban services as well. The Portsmouth and Brighton electrification schemes took the third rail to the main lines. A documentary film about the Portsmouth Electrification, made in 1936 with commentary by W. H. Auden and music by Benjamin Britten can be seen here. The Brighton scheme was originally undertaken by the LB&SCR before the Grouping using the AC overhead system, but wasconverted to third rail by the Southern. It is unfortunate that nationalization came before the Southern Railway had had chance to electrify the rest of its main line services otherwise we might have seen the whole Southern Railway system electrified by about 1960.
The Southern Railway's celebrated all-Pullman "Brighton Belle" Express
A Southern Railway 3-SUB electric multiple unit of the 1920s. Many of these were rebuilt from former steam stock, so that their cost did not have to be charged against the capital account
One of the LSWR's original electric multiple units. The units were originally painted brown and salmon pink, but this photograph shows the all-over green livery adopted in 1915 a few weeks after they were introduced
1933 Southern Railway poster. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
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