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The London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) 1923-1948

The London and North Eastern Railway or LNER was the second-largest of the "Big Four" railway companies created by the 1923 Grouping Act in Britain. It existed until nationalisation in 1948, and largely formed the new British Railways' Eastern Region.

Formation

The LNER was formed out of a number of constituent railway companies:

These were of varying size and fortune, the North Eastern Railway being probably the wealthiest.

Geographic Area

The LNER, as its name suggests, covered the arc of the country between North and East of London. It encompassed the East Coast Main Line from London to Edinburgh via York and Newcastle upon Tyne, as well as the routes from Edinburgh to Aberdeen and Inverness. Most of the country east of the Pennines was the LNER's purview, including the large, flat expanse of East Anglia. The LNER's main workshops were in Doncaster.

Paint and Livery

The LNER used a number of paint colors on its trains. Most common, though, were lined apple green on its passenger locomotives (much lighter and brighter than the green used by the Great Western Railway) and unlined black on freight locomotives, both with gold lettering. Passenger carriages were often left in a varnished wood finish; often, teak veneer was used.

Some special trains and their A4 Pacific locomotives were painted otherwise, including silver and blue.

Chief Mechanical Engineers

The public face of a railway system was and is in large part the locomotives and rolling stock in service upon it, and therefore the personalities of the Chief Mechanical Engineers of the LNER impressed their distinctive visions upon the railway. There were three CMEs of the LNER.

Sir Nigel Gresley
Sir Nigel Gresley was the first CME and held the post for the greatest proportion of the LNER's life, and thus he had the greatest effect on the company. He came to the LNER via the Great Northern Railway, where he also held the post of CME. He was noted for his "Big Engine" policy, and is best remembered for his large express passenger locomotives, many times the holder of the world speed record for steam locomotives. A4 Pacific class locomotive Mallard holds the record to this day. Gresley died in office in 1941.
Edward Thompson
Edward Thompson's short reign (1941-1946) was a controversial one. A noted detractor of Gresley even before his ascention to the post of CME, there are those who interpret many of his actions as being motivated by dislike of his predecessor. Against this it must be said that Gresley's designs had their flaws as well as their brilliance. His record is best served by his solid and dependable freight and mixed-traffic locomotives built under and for wartime conditions. He retired in 1946.
Arthur H. Peppercorn
Peppercorn's career was cut short by nationalisation and he only served 18 months in the position of CME. In this short period and in an atmosphere of reconstruction rather than great new endeavors, his only notable designs were his A1 and A2 Pacific express passenger locomotives, most of which were completed after nationalisation. Peppercorn was a student and admirer of Gresley and his locomotives combined the classic lines of Gresley's with the reliability and solidity Gresley's locomotives never quite achieved.

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