London, Brighton and South Coast Railway

London, Brighton and South Coast Railway

The London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) (commonly known as "the Brighton line") was a railway company in the United Kingdom from 1846 to 1923. Its territory formed a rough triangle, with London at its apex and practically the whole coastline of Sussex as its base. It was bounded on its western side by the lines of the London and South Western Railway; on its eastern by the South Eastern and Chatham Railway. It supplied the most direct routes to the South Coast seaside resorts of Brighton, Eastbourne and Worthing among many others. At the London end was a complicated suburban and outer-suburban network of lines.


The beginnings

The earliest parts of the LB&SCR were the two railways:
* The London & Croydon Railway (L&CR), which had been incorporated (by Act of Parliament) in 1835, and whose line from London Bridge to West Croydon had been opened on 5 June 1839. In 1845 the Railway experimented with atmospheric traction: the system was not a success, and was removed after a year.
* The London & Brighton Railway, incorporated 1837: it had been opened in sections:
** Brighton - Shoreham: 12 May 1840. Locomotives and rolling stock had to be transhipped by road for what was, in the first year, an isolated stretch of railway.
** Norwood (junction with the L&CR) - Haywards Heath: 12 July 1841. The final stretch of line required tunnelling through the South Downs.
** Haywards Heath - Brighton 21 September 1841

On 27 July 1846 the two Railways merged, and the title LB&SCR was adopted.

The company's London termini were at Victoria and London Bridge.

Under the railway engineer R.J. Hood, it extended its lines across the south London suburbs in 1868, opening up new sections between Peckham and Streatham, with several iron bridges and a tunnel under Knight's Hill.

From 1 January 1923, the company's lines were grouped along with those of the London and South Western Railway and the South Eastern and Chatham Railway to form the Southern Railway.



Passenger locomotives were painted 'hunter green' with some engines being finished with black lining. Frames were painted red, and wheels were black. Buffer beams were painted the regulation 'signal red'.

Goods locomotives were black with red and white lining, except those operating on routes taking them into Brighton or London Bridge railway station, when they were painted in passenger livery.

Some engines had boilers lagged with wooden strips. These were either highly polished mahogany with brass fixings or were painted in alternating strips of dark green and vermillion.

The main shade of green used gradually became darker. By the time William Stroudley became Locomotive Superintendent the colour had become a variant of the common Brunswick Green used by many other companies.

Carriages were either painted sea green or were left as varnished wood (the latter mainly being applied to first class stock).


Stroudley introduced his famous 'Improved Engine Green', which was actually a golden ochre colour. The colour was very similar to that used by Stroudley's former employers, the Highland Railway.

On passenger locomotives, Improved Engine Green was finished with olive green borders lined with black, red and white. Frames and buffer beams were painted carmine red, lined with yellow and black. The wheels were Improved Engine Green with red lining. Cab roofs were painted white.

Goods engines were painted all-over olive green with black borders, similar to the pre-1870 colours. If fitted with Westinghouse brakes, the black borders were edged with red lines.

Locomotives that had names had the name applied in gold leaf to the tank side (on tank locomotives) or to a wheel splasher on tender locomotives. The letters were edged with a thin red line and the letters were given depth with black shading.

This livery was one of the most ornate and distinctive ever used on British locomotives and is still remembered with nostalgia.

Carriages were all mahogany in colour, with white roofs and black chassis gear. Initially the actual wood of the body was varnished. Over the years it became harder to maintain a high quality varnish finish and so at this point in the carriage's life it would be painted in a similar-coloured paint. Panel lining and other details were picked out with gold leaf.


During this period, front-line express locomotives were painted a dark shade of umber. Lining was black with a gilt line either side. Cab roofs remained white. Frames were painted black, wheels were umber, and buffer beams returned to signal red. The company's initials were painted on the tender- or tank-sides (initially 'L.B.& S.C.R.', but after 1911 the ampersand was left out and the R removed) in gilt.

Secondary passenger locomotives had the same livery, but instead of gilt lining, chrome yellow paint was used.

Goods engines were painted gloss black with double vermillion lining. Names and numbers were painted in white letters with red shading.

Carriages were initially all olive green with white lining and detailing. From 1911 this was changed to plain umber with black lettering picked out with gold shading.

LB&SCR locomotives

Locomotive Superintendents

* John Chester Craven (1847–1870)
* William Stroudley (1870–1889)
* R. J. Billinton (1890–1904)
* D. E. Marsh (1905–1911)
* L. B. Billinton (1912–1922)

* List of locomotives

Pullman-car trains

The "Pullman Limited Express"

The LB&SCR pioneered the running of the all-Pullman train in England. Pullman cars had been introduced on the Midland Railway in 1874, followed by the Great Northern Railway soon after, and the LB&SC itself in 1875. Then on 5 December 1881 the LB&SCR inaugurated the first all-Pullman train. It was known as the "Pullman Limited Express" and was hauled by Stroudley's G-class 2-2-2 locomotive No 334 "Petworth". It consisted of four cars (built at the Pullman Car Company workshops in Derby): "Beatrice", "Louise", "Maud" and "Victoria"; these were the first electrically-lit coaches to run on a British railway.The "Pullman Limited Express" made two down and two up trips per day, and one each way on Sundays. In 1887 the name of the service was changed to "Brighton Pullman Limited"; by now first-class carriages were also attached to the train. A new train was built in 1888: three brand-new Pullmans were shipped over in parts from the Pullman Palace Car Company in America, and erected by the LB&SCR at Brighton.

The "Brighton Limited"

On Sunday 2 October 1898 a new all-Pullman car train, The "Brighton Limited", came into service. It ran only on Sundays, and not at all during the holiday months July-September. From the beginning the new train was timed to make the journey from Victoria in one hour: "London to Brighton in one hour" was the advertisement then used for the first time. On 21 December 1902 it made a record run of 54 minutes. It then hit the headlines again when, faced with the threat of a competing electric railway being built from London to Brighton, the "Limited" was run to Brighton in 48 mins 41 secs, and the return to London in 50 mins 21 secs, thus matching the schedule put forward by the promoters of the new electric line.

"The Southern Belle"

On 8 November 1908 the LB&SCR introduced what it described as "the most luxurious train in the World" – "The Southern Belle". By 1910 two trips each way were running every day; later three were run on Sundays.

"The Brighton Belle"

Electrification of the Brighton line was completed on 1 January 1933, by which time the LB&SCR was, of course, part of the Southern Railway; and a year later "The Southern Belle" was renamed "The Brighton Belle". Three multiple-unit trains were built for the service, and continued to run until the service was withdrawn in April 1972. [ Many of the individual cars are running on preserved railways] .

Third-class Pullman cars

Third-class Pullman cars began running on Sunday 12 September 1915 from Victoria to Brighton and Eastbourne.

The information in this section is taken from "Pullman Perfection" F Burtt & W Beckerlegge (Ian Allan Ltd 1948).

Railway electrification

The company was also a pioneer of railway electrification in Britain, seeking powers in 1903 to adapt its suburban lines to electrification. Although the Midland Railway lines from Lancaster to Morecambe and Heysham had been converted first, the LB&SCR lines eventually covered a far greater length of electrified track. Both companies opted for the high-tension overhead supply system at 6600 volts AC. This system was of German origin and the main contractor was Allgemeine Elektricitats Gesellschaft of Berlin, but some work was sub-contracted to British companies. The overhead system was to be short-lived, however, since the London and South Western Railway had adopted the third-rail system; and after grouping its mileage far exceeded that of the LB&SCR.

The first section of LB&SCR converted line was on the South London loop line connecting London Bridge with Victoria via Denmark Hill on 1 December 1909. Other routes followed:

*May 1911 Victoria–Crystal Palace via Balham and West Norwood
*June 1912 Peckham Rye–West Norwood

World War I interrupted what was to have been considerable further mileage of electrified line, but by 1921 most of the LB&SCR suburban lines were electrified. Plans were being laid to extend the overhead electrification to Brighton and other South Coast resorts. The final installation, carried out by the Southern Railway after Grouping was:

*1 April 1925 Lines to Coulsdon North and Sutton

Details of AC stock

* SL (South London) stock

* CP (Crystal Palace) stock

* CW (Coulsdon and Wallington) stock

* SR multiple unit numbering and classification


In 1926 it was announced that, as part of a huge electrification project, all overhead lines were to be converted to third rail operation, to bring all lines within the Southern Railway into common use.


*Cooper, B. K., "Rail Centres: Brighton", Booklaw Publications, 1981. ISBN 1-901945-11-1
*Gray, Adrian, "The London to Brighton Line 1841-1977", The Oakwood Press, 1977 [no ISBN]
*Searle, Muriel V., "Down the line to Brighton", Baton Transport, 1986. ISBN 0-85936-239-6
*Turner, John Howard (1977), "The London Brighton and South Coast Railway 1 Origins and Formation", Batsford, ISBN 0-7134-0275-X
*Turner, John Howard (1978), "The London Brighton and South Coast Railway 2 Establishment and Growth", Batsford, ISBN 0-7134-11-98-8

ee also

*List of early British railway companies
*South Eastern Railway - for the story of a bitter rivalry with the LB&SCR
*Locomotives of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway
*Old Kent Road railway station

External links

* [ LBSCR enthusiast site]
* [ English Heritage "Survey of London: volume 26" 1956]

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