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Horse and race traffic

While researching this traffic I'll be taking time out to post interesting pictures with detailed captions. They are now arranged in chronological order. A sub-section has been added about LMS horse boxes.

GWR horse train on Lickey

In a scene from around the time of the Grouping, a humble 4-4-0, MR No 304, ascends the Lickey Incline with a horse train that it has collected from the GWR. The final destination could be one of the racecourses on the LMS or LNER territory.

SECR-built 2-6-4T No 791 passes through Honor Oak Park

SECR-built 2-6-4T No 791 passes through Honor Oak Park c1923 with a racehorse train being worked from Epsom back to Newmarket. All the rolling stock is GER-built.

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New addition For smaller deliveries of horses, attachment to passenger trains was normal and this mid- to late-1920s view shows a southbound cross-country express getting away from York behind ex-GCR D9 No 6027. The horse box behind the tender is an ex-GNR one. Photo: R.S. Carpenter.

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D16 No 8787 in charge

This example from the 1930s shows the 2.4pm Cambridge-King's Cross secondary express (on which there's a chapter in LNER Passenger Trains & Formations, where the illustration on p.131 mentions a horse box behind the tender, but not that it's ex-GER). The picture above shows the same working between Hatfield and Brookman's Park with D16 No 8787 in charge but the horse box this time is from the SR, actually ex-LBSCR, presumably being returned after the previous day's racing at Newmarket.

D49 327

Expresses to quite a high level were allowed to carry horseboxes and two can be seen in this mid-1930s picture behind D49 No 327 Nottinghamshire at the head of one of the cross-country expresses, either the "Ports to Ports" or the "Glasgow-Southampton", which alternated LNER/GWR and LNER/SR formations, respectively. Both horse boxes are GWR, one of them a vintage "Small" one without a fodder compartment. They would have been on their way back to their parent system. The location is unknown but north of York. Photo: LGRP.

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New addition Another view of an express on the ECML to which a horse box has been attached. The date is between 1934-38 and C1 No 4428 is at Dringhouses near York with a heavy northbound express off the GC Section. The GWR horse box would have been attached while the train was passing through GWR territory south of Banbury. Photo: Cecil Ord collection.

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The quad-art sets are not known for their flexibility but as this picture shows, horse boxes could be conveyed. This set, hauled by N7 No 471 is heading north near New Southgate with three loaded boxes at the head. Most unusually, two company's stock is running together. The leading box is SR (ex-SER), the other two, ex-NER, possibly a coincidental working along the axis to and from Newmarket.

D2 No 4339 with ex-GNR horse box

An Outer Suburban train near Marshmoor heads south behind D2 No 4339 with an ex-GNR horse box behind the tender. This could have been a general movement, or a racehorse being sent to a meeting from a trainer in the Cambridge area. The passenger formation comprises two LNER Gresley 55'6" twins (BT-CL,CL-BT) introduced in 1935 for longer distance workings, a slightly extended version of the 51'1 1/2" twins of 1929.

King's Cross-Newmarket ticket

The return half of a King's Cross-Newmarket ticket for the Racecourse Betting Control Board.

/61287 Redcar-Newmarket

A view from the early 1950s showing a racehorse special returning to Newmarket on the outskirts of the town. It's quite an enlargement so not very sharp but visible at the head is a portion of the best available horsebox at the time which had been supplied extensively to Newmarket - the LNER 1938 design with lavatory for the groom (a BR version followed a year after this picture was taken). A kit is available from Parkside of the horse boxes in this train. The supporting carriage is an ex-LNER Gresley 61'6" brake-end, probably a BTK, possibly BCK. Another portion further back is harder to analyse but seems to contain more of the same horse boxes.

Leyburn 65038

Another picture from the early 1950s, this time at Leyburn on the Wensleydale branch with J21 65038 approaching with an Ordinary Passenger train. In the siding behind is a row of horse boxes for the trainers in the district. Clearly visible is a recently overhauled ex-NER box, No E298. Further back two more ex-NER boxes can be identified by the coach-style elliptical roofs, making nearly half of those present ex-NER. The others are harder to identify but the second one along looks ex-LMS.

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Revised caption and rescanned: Empty horse boxes did not have to be behind the loco and B1 No 61241 Viscount Ridley is conveying one behind a Thompson BG on 29th July 1952. This might possibly have been a stock train delivering the horse box at short notice to a station, with the guard riding in the bogie van, or simply a short parcels/ECS working. The horse box is ex-LMS.

The loco was allocated to Tweedmouth near Berwick at the time, but the location is Saughton Junction on the western outskirts of Edinburgh, where the line to Aberdeen came off (the more distant pair of tracks here). The train is approaching on the line from Glasgow to the west. With thanks to John Howell for recognising the location, I've improved the scan of the picture to show more of the signal box and the ex-NBR signals. Upper quadrants had replaced them by 1957. Photo: Author's collection.

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 A3 60053 St.Gatien

A very unusual sight, of a loaded horse box attached to a parcels train. A3 60053 St.Gatien is on the ECML near Aycliffe in the early 1950s with a long-distance parcels train, possibly Edinburgh-KX and with the window open, the horse box is clearly loaded for an unknown destination. It's the LNER 1938 design with lavatory and the best available at the time (ref. the Parkside kit).

D20 62396

The first BR design built 1954-55 and based on the LNER's final lavatory design (D.5). This is E2384E branded "Return to Leyburn" where a cluster of trainers was established nearby.

D20 62396

D20 62396 waits to depart from Hull Paragon in the 1950s with an Ordinary Passenger and a horse box behind the tender, one of the BR/Earlestown-built batch of 1954-55, a development of the 1938 LNER lavatory design. The movement could have related to Beverley and its racecourse.

K1 62066

K1 62066 enters Ely with with a horse train for Newmarket, exemplifying the impact when BR really modernised its stock for the race traffic with the Mk.1 design.

Some LMS-related workings

The nature of inter-company traffic will be obvious from the above and that a clear division between the companies is not really feasible. A sub-section focussing on use of LMS horse boxes is just about possible:

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I begin with two pictures from the 1920s, firstly showing an NBR-built Wheatley 0-6-0 approaching Carlisle with a train of 6-wheel and bogie passenger carriages; a 4-wheel passenger brake van; and an LNWR horse box. The headlamps are not RCH-related but a local one so I cannot tell if this was an express or ordinary passenger train. I suspect that the code probably indicated the route being served, a practice which lasted beyond the Grouping in several parts of the UK.

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LGRP 21135 detl

A close-up of the two non-passenger vehicles shows more of the LNWR horse box.

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The second view shows an LMS train in 1925 at Blackwell being banked up the Lickey Incline. 2P 4-4-0 No 521 has an Ordinary Passenger train comprising four bogie carriages, mostly clerestory, flanked by vans: ex-Midland Railway 6w at the front and, on the rear, ex-LNWR, still in LNWR livery, a common sight during the 1920s. Five horse boxes had been place behind the loco and give the appearance is of a delivery from a horse sale, or movement of empty stock to the north - horse sales used to be as common as second-hand dealerships in cars are today. There used to be a weekly horse sale at Crewe which would have generated traffic on the railway in both directions.

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Real 17363 detl

A close-up of the horse boxes. The trailing three are ex-Midland Railway designs, of which there were several different types, both flat-sided and with tumblehome, arc roof and elliptical. At the head there are two more LNWR boxes. Philip Millard, well known for his LNWR researches, has come forward to identify these boxes in both pictures and I quote him thus:

"A considerable number of these 21ft boxes was built by the LNWR to Diagram 436. In all, 692 were produced between 1890-1923 and the ones at Blackwell are earlier examples built on steel channel frames with rounded ends to the headstocks. They have the 1901 pattern of oil boxes. The first one is a pre-1896 example with horns outside the solebars. The second appears to be post-1896 with horns inside the solebars.

The one at Carlisle is a later, post-1899 build on bulb-iron frames with square-end headstocks, and it too has oil boxes, of the 1916 type.

There were still about 699 of these horseboxes in capital stock at the Grouping, and 247 in 1933. The type did not become extinct until 1954".

In a related theme, there is on page 75 in Peter Tatlow's "Historic Carriage Drawings, Volume Three, Non-passenger Coaching Stock" (Pendragon, 2000), a pair of photos and a drawing of Maryport and Carlisle horse box, No 4, which Peter concluded was the sole survivor listed in the LMS renumbering in 1932. The body profile and several details are similar and it seems that, although built by R.Y. Pickering of Wishaw near Motherwell in Scotland, it was based on contemporary LNWR designs with a few simplifications, such as one less door to the fodder compartment.

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At this point it's fair to show the preceding LNWR Diagram 438 to 19'6" because it is covered by London Road Models, whose illustration is shown above. The website states that this Diagram had been built between 1883-1889. 150 were constructed, 88 of which were still running in 1915. By 1920 they had all been replaced by the newer design. London Road Models can be found via the Useful Links section in the main menu.

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A fine picture from the 1930s of an unidentified "Jubilee" between Watford and Euston with a horse special, alas too head-on to be sure of the formation, but it has a passenger coach on the rear, then what may be an ex-LNWR 6w passenger brake van, and six ex-MR and LMS horse boxes. The purpose of the train is unclear, possibly a troop special for the officers? Photo: Author's collection.

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An awfully run down ex-GCR B2 heads south towards Chaloners Whin in the late 1940s with a secondary express of LNER and ex-NER carriages. Behind the tender is the classic LMS horse box with planked sides (see details underneath the next picture). My apologies for the modest quality despite repair with Photoshop but it is useful historically in showing an inter-company working. Photo: P. Wilson.

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This picture tells quite a story! It was taken in July 1956 at Sudbury, which lies on GE territory on the line to Colchester, with a train whose starting point was somewhere to the north - from Long Melford, Bury St.Edmonds, Newmarket or Cambridge. It's a pity that the whole train - probably a country district set - cannot be seen. Visible here is (CL,BT) - Thompson 52'4" semi-corridor lavatory composite, and Gresley 3rd brake, BT(4).

Behind the loco, D16 No 62618 (31A Cambridge), is a recently overhauled horse box that had been built by the LMS in 1926 as a development of the Midland Railway design with planked doors for the horse, but panelled either side. After 50 of these were built the LMS went over to planking of the whole side, of which some 550 were built in LMS and early BR days. By then, the LNER had developed a version with a lavatory for the groom and that was also built by BR, mainly for race trainers. Many of the more basic design continued to serve over relatively short distances, at least greater than was gobbled up by the roads, and this looks like a good example in which a 30-year old horse box has been employed.

It's interesting to add that I have seen pictures of LMS-design horse boxes all over the place, notably on GW lines, and that in Paul Bartlett's photo archive there are two more pictures on the GE Section, taken at Bishop's Stortford in 1958-59, of quite similar 1921-built Midland Railway horse boxes. Let's face it, the SR never built any new horse boxes at all, simply modernising pre-Grouping ones. It underlines not only how many new horse boxes were built in Big Four days (by the three other companies) but how useful old ones were for relatively short distance trips for horses used on the land, or for minor sports and leisure. Photo: Colour-Rail BRE 1949.

Models - There is an etched brass kit from London Road Models for the Midland Railway design (see Useful Links) and, from Hornby, a RTR model of the more common LMS design with full planking.

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Race specials for the public

A vast number of special excursions were run for the public, here are some highlights.

Aintree handbill

This handbill for Liverpool Spring races - including the Grand National - is a fine example of an inter-regional working which was initially an NER train from Hull Paragon to the LYR's Racecourse Station, subsequently LNER to LMS, and then ER to LMR. The immense volume of inter-regional excursion traffic can be useful for modellers wishing to run a "foreign" train.

61317 Aintree special

A fine view of a Grand National Special near Glazebrook in 1950, en route from Cleethorpes. B1 No 61317, still in ex-LNER apple green, has a medium length train of ex-LNER coaches. Most are LNER-built Gresleys with an ex-GNR one behind the tender.

St Leger 1931

The St.Leger was one of the "classic" races and many of its winners' names were chosen for Gresley Pacifics, and eventually Thompson and Peppercorn ones too. The race was the highlight of 4-days' racing at Doncaster each September and crowds came from all over the country. What we're looking at here is a handbill published by the LNER for the event in 1931 and aimed at the city of London. It actually ran to four pages with more details inside. Each day was served by an express with catering but the highlight was the Wednesday - St.Leger Day.

For this the LNER ran two extra trains, a normal express with catering, and a train of Pullman cars hired for the occasion, running at some speed to Doncaster with the latter only catering for 1st class passengers. A Pacific would have been used rather than a large Atlantic. For modellers the upshot is that (if you close your eyes to the presence of a few 3rd class Pullmans in the train) Cliff Parsons has been running a Newmarket Race Special on "The Gresley Beat" for some time: now we know that he can also run it as a St.Leger Day Special. :)

And the winner in 1931? Sandwich, soon to be carried by A3 No 2504, in BR days, No 60039.

Handbill Newmarket

This brochure for the 1958 season was aimed at Londoners and detailed all the meetings, the leading races, and special services from King's Cross and Liverpool Street.

Many winners of the two classics run at Newmarket, the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas, were placed on LNER Pacifics, from Gresley A1/A3s such as Flying Fox and Sceptre, to the post-War Thompson Pacifics, such as Happy Night and Blue Peter, and Peppercorn A1 Pommern. Two "Deltics" were also honoured winners of the 2,000 Guineas, Nimbus and Creppello. Sceptre

Of the many LNER Pacifics named after winners of the 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas, the latter for fillies only, most successful by far was Sceptre which won both races - on consecutive days in 1902. In fact, she was a real star, winning four of the five classics, the only horse ever to have done so, and would have been well known to travellers in LNER days.

Modelling article: GCR/LNER horse boxes is here.

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