(Note: Numbers in brackets refer to specific references)
The MR was formed in 1844 by the amalgamation of the North Midland Railway, Midland Counties Railway, and Birmingham & Derby Junction Railway, with the centre of the system being Derby. Parliament was generally opposed to such mergers on the basis they restrained competition and this was the first really large amalgamation that was sanctioned. The extensive network fanned out from Derby to York, London, Bournmouth, Hereford, Swansea and Carlisle (where it linked to the Glasgow & South Western Railway), Yarmouth Lincoln, Peterborough, Leeds, Bradford (with an extension to Skipton), Lancaster, Morecambe; Birmingham, Gloucester and Bristol. In Scotland it had very close links with the Glasgow & South Western and to a lesser extent with the North British Railway (it contributed nearly a third toward the cost of the Forth Bridge). The company opened its own London terminus at St Pancras in the 1860's and shortly thereafter reached Manchester. At this time they began building their Settle & Carlisle route to improve its links with Scotland. The economy slumped and they tried to abandon the project but were prevented from doing so by other companies with an interest in the route. In the event the line took ten years to build and cost far more than anticipated
The Midland was a late comer so it promoted its often longer and slower routes by offering greater passenger comfort and amenities. Third class travel had proved popular and in 1872 the MR began carrying third-class passengers in all its trains, to the annoyance of their competitors. They subsequently improved third class accommodation to second class standards and scrapped the second class altogether. The benefit for the company was a simplification of its operating arrangements. In 1874 the company introduced the first Pullman services in Britain. Many of its lines were steep and suffered from tight curves, the company therefore concentrated on operating lighter trains hauled by smaller locomotives on more frequent services. In 1910 they introduced a central control centre at Derby, covering operations throughout their network.
The Midland freight operations were extensive, long coal trains going to London being one of its characteristics. Much of the line between London and Leeds was quadruple track, allowing the fast passenger services to operate alongside the slower heavy freight trains. In the 1870's it tried to buy up all the privately owned coal wagons on its system, offering its own wagons for lease instead. The result was a great many MR liveried coal wagons but ultimately the advantages of private ownership to the coal trader caused the plan to fail. The MR had regular freight services operating to and from London docks and in 1904 it opened a new port at Heysham to serve the Irish trade (it already owned one of the Irish railways).
The MR used a basic wagon colour of light grey with white markings, company initials were M R. The grey varied a lot however, some wagons appear very dark, similar in shade to the
GWR goods grey whilst others are rather light in shade. The grey was applied to the headstocks and solebars of the chassis, but all the ironwork below this was in black. The white lettering on MR wagons tended to show up well as they used a self-cleaning paint.
Locomotives were maroon and passenger stock was painted in an all-over maroon livery with yellow lining.
Fig ___ MR
(1) Midland Wagons Vol.1 R. J. Essery - xxxxx - 19xx - ISBN xxxxxxxxx
Midland Railway Society
Graham Hughes Kits 20, MacKelvie Road, Lamlash, Isle of Arran Strathclyde KA27 8NP
Mr.Hughes offers white metal kits (including chassis) of the MR 3 plank 8 ton wagon and the 5 plank open and manure wagons. They require couplings and wheels to complete and are not ideal for beginners but the resulting models are somewhat better than my simple conversions.