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Locomotives of the Midland Railway

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Title: Locomotives of the Midland Railway  
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Subject: Midland Railway 700 Class, Midland Railway 990 Class, Locomotives of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, Midland Railway, Midland Railway 2228 Class
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Locomotives of the Midland Railway

The Locomotives of the Midland Railway (which it always referred to as engines), followed its small engine policy. The policy was later adopted by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, and contrasted with the London and North Western Railway's policy. The small engine policy was partly the consequence of a difference in the background of senior managers. In most railway companies, the elite position was the design, construction and maintenance of locomotives. Bigger engines brought more prestige and allowed longer trains. In the Midland, the marketing department was paramount. They recognised that people wanted more frequent, shorter trains rather than an infrequent service. It concentrated on very light, very fast and frequent trains.


  • Overview 1
  • Numbering and classification 2
  • Engines inherited from constituent companies 3
  • Engines built by the Midland 4


The small engine policy was, perhaps, carried on too long, giving rise to the derisive poem:

M is for Midland with engines galore
Two on each train and asking for more

The Midland was blessed, in that George Stephenson had built its main lines with very shallow gradients. The LNWR had to cope with the hilly country north of Lancaster. The Midland had also found it more efficient to use smaller, less fuel hungry locos, simply adding pilots or banking engines as necessary.

The small engine policy served the Midland well when its network was confined to the English Midlands, which is largely free of steep gradients. As the company expanded into other parts of Britain the policy's downsides began to cause problems. The company's own main line to Scotland (the Settle-Carlisle Line) and the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway (where the Midland was responsible for providing locomotives) were renowned for their steep gradients and the company's locomotive stock proved badly suited to the task. Nonetheless the small engine policy remained and double-heading or banking was used to make up for the shortfall in power. This indirectly caused two accidents on the Settle-Carlisle Line (at Hawes Junction and Ais Gill) where trains stalled due to insufficient power, even from multiple locomotives. The policy also greatly reduced capacity on the Midland's network as not only were there more (but smaller) trains than there would have been on another railway but further capacity was taken up by the need to accommodate light engines that had been used for piloting or banking duties that were returning to their depots.

The small engine policy remained in place into the 1920s and remained an influence during the early years of the Midland's successor the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, its Chief Mechanical Engineer for most of the 1920s being Henry Fowler, a long-standing Midland engineer and former CME of that company.

Numbering and classification

Before 1907 numbering was somewhat erratic. New locomotives might take the numbers of old engines, which were placed on the duplicate list and had an A suffix added to their numbers. In 1907 the whole stock were renumbered in a systematic way, each class in a consecutive sequence, classes being ordered by type (passenger/tank/goods), power and age. After the grouping this system was adapted for the whole LMS

The Midland classified their stock into three classes numbered 1 to 3 with 1 the least powerful and three the most. Stock were also split into passenger and freight engines. When the two largest 4-4-0 clases, the 3-cylinder compounds and the "999s", were introduced these were put into Class 4. This system formed the basis for the subsequent LMS and BR classification systems.

Engines inherited from constituent companies

Midland formed in 1844 from the Midland Counties Railway, the North Midland Railway and the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway, and took over a number of others including the Leicester and Swannington Railway and the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway. See

Engines built by the Midland

Initially, the Midland concentrated on maintaining and improving the somewhat varied fleet that it had inherited, with the assistance of The Railway Foundry in Leeds. In addition it bought in twenty four of their Jenny Lind locomotives.

MR class Wheel
Pre-1907 Fleet
Post-1907 Fleet
Serial number(s)
Quantity Year(s)
Matthew Kirtley (1844–1873)
130 class 2-2-2 1–39, 94, 97–100, 120–149 1852–1866 75 1870–1905 align=left
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