London, Brighton and South Coast Railway

From Academic Kids

Missing image
The LB&SCR's coat of arms, displayed above the entrance to Gipsy Hill railway station. The cross (top left) represents London, the two dolphins (top right) Brighton, the three half-lions/half-ships (bottom left) the Cinque Ports, and the star and crescent (bottom right) Portsmouth.

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.

From 1st 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.

There is still nostalgia for the LB&SCR's attractive Victorian yellow ochre locomotive livery, called Stroudley's Improved Engine Green. Several locomotives have been preserved and some are still running today on heritage railways.

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; but 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 locomotive #334 Petworth. It consisted of four cars (built at the Pullman Car Company workshops in Derby): Beatrice, Louise, Maud and Victoria. 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 "Pullman Limited Express train"; by now first-class carriages were also attached to the train. A new train was built in 1888, this time built at 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" (originally "The Pullman Limited Express" it was renamed soon after) 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.

"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 every day were running; and 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 distance of electrified track. Both companies opted for the high-tension overhead supply system at 6600 volts AC: in the LB&SCR case this was because their electrical engineer had been attracted to it by a visit to the USA. That system was to be short-lived, however, since the London and South Western Railway had adopted the third-rail system; and after grouping their 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:

WWI 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 conversion was:

By now grouping had occurred; and 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. Details of the three types of AC overhead electric multiple unit stock used may be found here.

See also

List of early British railway companies

External link

LBSCR enthusiast site (


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