In 2023, one hundred years have passed since the dissolution of the Great Northern Railway. Formed in the mid-1840s, the company was instrumental in connecting London with the eastern half of England, the North East and Scotland. Later, the GNR made inroads into other parts of the country, such as Nottinghamshire and West Yorkshire.
The GNR successfully served the population for nearly a century and was able to innovate in several areas, with developments in locomotive design, carriage construction and services offered.
The Glorious Years of the GNR presents several of these areas of the company using over 250 superb black-and-white images, coupled with interesting and informative captions.
Boasting several world-renowned engineers, the locomotives of Archibald Sturrock, Patrick Stirling, H.A. Ivatt and H.N. Gresley (later Sir) are featured in various scenes from across the GNR’s network. The company’s coaching stock is also presented, ranging from E.F. Howlden’s six-wheelers to 12-wheel clerestory vehicles and Gresley’s articulated suburban and main line trains.
Arguably, Doncaster was the most important place on the GNR, therefore a focus has been placed on the town’s workshops. A number of interesting scenes are included showing the workforce, construction of the Crimpsall Repair Shop, as well as women war workers during the Great War.
A small section is dedicated to the GNR’s stations, which ranged from the grand terminus at King’s Cross to humble buildings serving small villages. A number of these have been lost subsequently. Often with staff posing happily for the camera, the stations recall a time when a high standard of service was expected and offered, rather than the cost-saving and utilitarian facilities of the present.
In an era before the motor car, when the world was horse-drawn and steam-powered, the GNR was part of a ‘golden age’ of British history. The centenary of the company’s demise provides a welcome opportunity to reflect on this distant, yet great period.