[The following passages are excerpted from Pattinson's late-nineteenth-century book on British passenger railways. — George P. Landow.]

General Description of the Line

This system at present has rather more than 300 miles of railway, and is also one of the largest canal-owning companies in the kingdom. Like the Lancashire and Yorkshire, it acts in great measure as a feeder of the main trunk lines. Starting from Manchester, it runs in an eastwardly direction to Penistone, from which point one line diverges through Barnsley and Ulceby to Great Grimsby and New Holland (for Hull), while another, which is in reality the main route, bends southwards to Sheffield, and further on joins the Great Northern main line at Retford, for Peter- borough and London. Two unimportant agricultural lines owned by the company are those from Lincoln and Retford via Gainsborough to Bametby. But perhaps the most important part of the system is the joint line owned by the company with the Midland and Great Northern. This section is known as the Cheshire Lines, and comprises a through route from Manchester to Liverpool, and from Manchester vid Chester to Wrexham, over the new Dee bridge. Among its offshoots are the routes from Manchester to Wigan, and from Liverpool and Manchester to Southport. The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Company work this joint piece.

At present, as stated above, the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire is only a feeder for more important companies. But the directorate is extremely ambitious, and new projects are being launched in all directions. Northwards a connection is sought with Blackpool and Preston; westwards it is intended to fuse many of the smaller Welsh railways in the interests of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Company, while southwards most important schemes are in hand. The company have already obtained Parliamentary sanction to extend their system to Annesley, and it is sought in the present session to continue this line through Nottingham and Leicester to Quainton, near Aylesbury, at which point the Metropolitan Railway (the London ally of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire, having the same chairman) is already established. This far-reaching scheme, which has passed through the ordeal of the House of Commons, will seriously affect the Midland and Great Northern companies. A new and effective competition for Leicester, Nottingham, and Sheffield, will threaten the Midland, while the Great Northern Company, although preserving their present access to both Sheffield and Manchester by running powers which, by agreement, the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire engage to afford them, will doubtless lose a good deal of valuable traffic.

Travelling Facilities

(a) Services between Chief Towns. Regarding Manchester as the centre of the system, we see from the table below that with few exceptions the towns on the company's lines are well served. Bamsley, Chester, and Grimsby are, however, not treated so well as they should be. But these deficiencies are fully atoned for by the superb services between Manchester and Liverpool in com- petition with the North-Western and the Lancashire and Yorkshire companies. . . . Punctuality on the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire line proper is very good, except for the slower expresses, which stop more frequently. On the Cheshire Lines section between Manchester and Liverpool we possess at once perhdps the fastest, most frequent, and most punctual services in the kingdom.

(b) Rolling Stock and General Accommodation. The passenger rolling stock . . . is fairly good throughout. The carriages in the through trains arc exceedingly well equipped, the thirds being well cushioned and roomy, with a larger amount of window space than usual, and the seconds and firsts being almost up to the best specimens running on other lines. The latter class is generally ornamented in fancy woods, and is frequendy provided with lavatory accommodation. Almost alone of the lines north of the Thames, the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Company have adopted an electrical means of communication between the passengers and the officials of the train. Dining saloons, owned jointly with the Great Northern, are run twice daily each way between Manchester and London. The only shabby rolling stock on the line is seen occasionally in the slower trains, and even here matters have much improved of late. The coaching stock used on the Cheshire Lines railways is of similar character to that on the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire line proper, and is mostly of the twelve-wheel bogie type.

In other respects the accommodation given by the company is tolerably good. The Automatic Vacuum brake, after some years use of the simple variety, has been adopted. The termini at Manchester and Liverpool are well adapted to traffic demands, and most of the roadside stations on the main line are superior to the English average. The company have been rather unfortunate as regards accidents, two of the most disastrous of recent years Penistone and Hexthorpe having occurred on their line.

Locomotive Work

(a) Speed. The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire possesses some very smartly-booked trains, and also some which might be levelled up a little. The best and quickest timing they are supposed to do is the series of runs from Manchester to Warrington in 18 minutes, a little under 16 miles. This, however, is rarely done in daily work. . . .

(b) Gradients. . . . [The] main line from Retford, the point where it diverges from the Great Northern, to Manchester is very steep. This is particularly so on the latter part of the journey, that is, from Sheffield westwards, which is extremely arduous.

(c) Locomotives. The locomotives on the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire are painted green, and are generally of rather unprepossessing appearance. The latest type, however, cannot, in fairness, be thus described, as they are of very handsome design. They are also capable of excellent work, as will be seen below. It is very singular that in their dimensions this most recent type adopted by the company should be so different from the standard express engines with single driving wheels of only a few years back


Pattinson, J. Peabody. British Railways: Their Passenger Service, Rolling Stock, Locomotives, Gradients, and Express Speeds. London: Cassell, 1893. Internet Archive version of a copy in the Stanford University library. Web. 26 January 2013.

Last modified 27 January 2013