All the names of the great Victorian railway companies are to be found in crest albums, together with many of the lesser ones, and there were, through the Victorian era, over 1,000 individual companies. There was a great post-war consolidation in 1923 with four major groupings: Great Western, London, Midland & Scottish, London North Eastern; and Southern.

The East Coast Railways was apparently part of the LNER grouping. The Great Central was the name taken by the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire in 1897; it became part of the LNER. The London, Brighton & South Coast took its name following a merger in 1846; in 1923 it was taken into the SR grouping.

The Rhondda & Swansea Bay Railway Co. was founded in 1882 and eventually subsumed in the Great Western in 1922. The arms of the Great Western Railway are formed from the arms of the cities of London and Bath. The company dates from 1835 when it was formed with the purpose of linking these two great commercial cities. The London & North Western was formed in 1846 and became part of LMS in 1923. The Great Northern was also founded in 1846, becoming part of LNER in 1923.

The Midland Railway came into being from an amalgamation in 1844 and was a major constituent of the LMS group in 1923. The blind crest is that of the LMS. The LNER was another of the 'big four'. The Great Eastern dates from a grouping in 1862, and eventually became a part of LNER. The Metropolitan District Railway was incorporated in 1864 becoming part of the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933.

The South Eastern was incorporated as the London, Deptford & Dover railway, but soon became known as the South Eastern. The London, Chatham & Dover was created in 1859 and its management was merged with that of the South Eastern in 1899; they became part of Southern Railways in 1923.

The source of most of the background information is an invaluable book Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies by Christopher Awdry, a beautifully illustrated, authoritative work.

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Page created 3 June 2001