The London and North West Railway by Neil Smith

Published in May 2021, this book from Pen & Sword editions is an immensely readable selection of articles from the Railway Magazine records on the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) around the turn of the 20th century.

Edited by Neil Smith, this hardcover book measures approximately 290 cm x 220 cm, has 304 pages and 205 color and black and white illustrations. It has a published price of £35.00, but at the time of writing it can be had from Amazon for £24.73. The full title of the book is The London & North Western Railway, Railway Magazine Archive Articles, Victorian Era & Early 20th Century.

Neil Smith is to be commended for his excellent selection of articles which fill 27 chapters, each one being a reproduction of an article on the LNWR which was published in the Railway Magazine between August 1897 and April 1904.

There are revealing interviews with CJ Bowen Cooke, LNWR District Locomotive Superintendent, who describes the role of locomotive engineers and their duties, Frederick Harrison, LNWR General Manager, who provides interesting insights into how the LNWR seeks to expand its business. , and FW Webb, the LNWR’s chief mechanical engineer, who describes the more technical aspects of the company’s locomotives.

The variety of trains to be seen 120 years ago is illustrated by a series of chapters on notable railway stations, with Birmingham New Street, Carlisle Citadel, Euston, Manchester London Road (now Piccadilly) and Preston featured.

Chapter 3 describing 24 hours at Willesden Junction is a revelation. The station’s role has changed so much since it was first published in September 1897, when Willesden was both a major interchange and a ‘ticket’ station, where tickets were collected from passengers before they reached the terminus of ‘Euston, a function which disappeared after the generalization of corridor trains.

Surprisingly, the United States features in two articles, with an account of the LNWR rolling stock that traveled to the United States for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, while Chapter 5 describes a trip on the apparently secret “American Special” which operated in connection with transatlantic ships of White Star Line and Cunard in New York. The train ran non-stop from Euston to Edge Hill in Liverpool, where two 0-6-0 tank engines took over for the short distance to Riverside station, ideally placed for transfer to ships.

Crewe deserves two chapters, one describing its evolution into the famous railway town, the other how it became a virtual ghost town during the annual Crewe Works holiday week. In addition to Crewe Works, other railway establishments featured include Wolverton Carriage Works and Earlestown Wagon Works.

While the LNWR did not have its own route to Sheffield, it did have traffic rights over Grand Central. To accommodate the freight that exercised these traffic rights, he built a new freight warehouse in the city. To serve the warehouse, the company laid a short line, just three-quarters of a mile long, giving the LNWR its own line separated by about 30 miles from the nearest point on its own network.

Articles on specific routes and trains include journeys on the Irish Mail, Liverpool Express, LNWR cross country services and London to Birmingham express train services. Other articles describe the opening and early years of the constituent companies of the LNWR, including the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, the London & Birmingham Railway and the Grand Junction Railway. Equally interesting is the description of an LNWR route to Manchester via Ashbourne, through the heart of Midland Railway territory.

The volume is supplemented by chapters on LNWR rolling stock, including Precedent and Webb Compound locomotives, and Royal Saloons.

These pages show Curzon Street station in Birmingham. Never in their wildest dreams could the directors of the LNWR have imagined that 130 years after it was closed to passengers, it would be resurrected as the Birmingham station for Britain’s new high-speed railway, HS2.

Credit: Rail Advent.

The photos on the left are from the article about the LNWR’s foray into Midland Railway territory to join Manchester via a branch to Ashbourne.

No book on the LNWR would be complete without a photo of Euston Station’s iconic Doric arch, shamelessly destroyed during the rebuilding of the station in the 1960s.

London North West Railway 154-155
Credit: Rail Advent.

FW Webb’s article includes a nice selection of photos illustrating some of his locomotive designs.

London North West Railway 178-179
Credit: Rail Advent.

This book is a wonderful blend of London & North Western Railway from the archives of Railway Magazine between the late Victorian era and the early 20th century. The large number of photographs and illustrations, mostly from the archives of the London & North Western Railway Society, make this a very special book.

The book is available for purchase on Amazon and on Pen & Sword.

We would like to thank Pen & Sword for providing RailAdvent with a copy of the book for review.

The article

London and North Western Railway – Articles from the Railway Magazine Archive.


  • Excellent choice of articles, and just the right balance between text and illustrations.
  • First class photographic reproduction.
  • A beautiful railway book whose content and layout lends itself to being dipped into at random or as a broad introduction to the LNWR.


  • It’s hard to find a bad word to say about this book.

Breakdown of reviews

  • Presentation and layout
  • Technical informations
  • Value for money

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