What sort of railway was the L&YR? This question has several different answers depending on whether you are a traveller or shareholder and at what point in the life of the L&Y you were talking about. In the early days, from the traveller’s point of view it was diabolical. O.S.Nock in his, The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (A concise history), quoting E.L.Ahrons, states “In the middle of the 1870s it was probably the most degenerate railway in the kingdom, to which even the South Eastern or the London, Chatham & Dover could have only run a bad second.”
Things were so bad that the L&Y was the butt of Pantomime jokes – quoting from Nock again, “He went to Bradford for to dine By the Lancashire & Yorkshire line; He waited three weeks at bleak Low Moor And when he complained the porter swore That he ought to have started the month before”… etc, etc. Nock says, “To sum up, the L&Y of 1876 was a railway of ugly inconvenient stations, of old broken-down engines and dirty carriages, and of a superlative unpunctuality, to which no pen could do justice.”
However, if you were a shareholder between 1866 and 1880 things were rather less bleak and ugly. Dividends were a healthy 6 to 8%, and only in the years 1878 and 1880 when 5 3/8% was paid and 1879 when only 4 5/8% paid did they fall below the 6% mark – in 1872 the L&Y paid 8 3/8%.
The photograph, taken on the K&WVR, shows Ex-L&YR 0-6-0 No.957, built in 1887 to a design by Barton Wright, whose locomotives are credited with vastly improving the L&YR’s punctuality and speed of services. The coach behind the engine is the beautifully restored ‘Club Car’ No.47.
The ‘Club Car’ owes its existence to the sensitivities of Fylde coast businessmen and their desire for a comfortable journey unencumbered by such unpleasantness as having to rub shoulders with the ‘great unwashed’. In 1896 a group of these businessmen, the Lytham St. Anne’s & Blackpool Travelling Club approached the L&Y with a view to securing their ‘own’ coach on the morning and evening expresses to and from Manchester.
Following the successful outcome of these negotiations the L&Y first provided some converted 6 wheel saloons and then in 1912 produced a unique carriage for the service which ran Monday to Saturday from Blackpool Central to Manchester Victoria. This coach continued in service until 1934 and then spent the next 17 years on secondary duties until 1951 when it was sold for use as a cricket pavilion in Spondon, near Derby.
If you have enjoyed my blogs – I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, from trainspotter, via steam age footplateman, to railway author and photographer, this is a link to it: