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LMSS Masthead

Fostering Interest in Research & Modelling of the London, Midland & Scottish Railway

HORSE TRANSPORT

LMS ST32 trolley A 35 cwt trolley to desgin ST32, seen with sideboards and grey, or Brunswick green, canvas tilt. These trollies were intended for light goods work and were a common type throughout the LMs network. One interesting point is that there does not appear to be any provision for the carter to sit on the vehicle. He was prohibited from standing or riding on the shafts. ST32, No. 24709, Lot 947.

The LMS took over a well established and flourishing Horse Transport operation which gave rise to much of the ordinary freight business carried by rail.

The horse had by 1923 been an integral part of the railway scene for close on a century and in almost every railway yard, stable buildings were to be found and often these had been built at the time the line opened.

The carts and drays and omnibuses inherited by the LMS were well-tried, and horse transport had already seen full development.

However, the LMS was the largest railway operator of horse transport in the country:

1923
LMS Road Horses9,370
Total of Big Four Railway Coys.18,083
LMS Horse Wag2ns and Carts19,432
Total of Big Four Railway Coys.32,327
LMS Horse Omnibuses22
Total of Big Four Railway Coys.57



The total tonnage carried in 1923 by LMS Road Horses was 9,012,673 tons, for a mean average close to 1,000 tons per horse. However, in addition to 9m tons of ordinary freight. Vast quantities of parcels were handled, no less in fact than 32,061,328 in 1925. Therefore, in addition to the annual average 1,000 freight tons, each horse also had an average of 3,421 parcel items to carry per annum.

Horse transport was spread throughout the system with the majority centred on the cities and large towns. The LMS used horses through to nationalisation and although there was a gradual reduction in numbers from 1925 onwards (In 1924 Horse stock increased to 9,870) the LMS still had greater reliance on them than any other Company:-

19461947
LMS Road Horses6,168
Total of Big Four Railway Coys.9,0778,793



By 1946 the LMS had more carts per horse than in 1923, and they had continued to replace old vehicles with new ones up to the war:

19461947
LMS Horse Wagons and Carts18,300
Total of Big Four Railway Coys.24,93524,095



The railway horse was generally purchased as a five-year old after early years on the farm, for a working horse takes around this time to 'fully develop. Many breeds figured in railway service but the heavy Clydesdales, Shires and Suffolk punch were common. Irish and Continental breeds were imported in substantial numbers for use in the goods shafts.

The slighter built Bays were often used for the horse drawn omnibuses, but by 1927 all 22 LMS omnibuses had been withdrawn.

The working life of the railway horse depended largely on the type of work they did, with the heavy London dray horse being sold off after a short life of 5 years. A 70 hour week with a daily maximum of 14 hours was routine and a coal horse would be expected to deliver an average 30 tons per week.

Rather fewer horses were employed on shunting work in goods yards:

192319301946
LMS Shunting Horses39122975
Total of Big Four Railway Coys.1,130671238



Chains attached to the usual harness had to be attached to the side loops of the wagons and not to the draw bar hooks or couplings.

The 19432 wagons and carts taken over by the LMS were of many different sizes and designs, and generally they lasted for a long time many pre-group items lasting through to nationalisation.

The well-known flat drays or trolleys were not all alike, as may have at first seemed the case. Different sizes were produced to suit the various types of traffic emanating in particular localities. For example three 65 cwt trolleys were designated, but each a different size - one for use in Birmingham, another slightly smaller for the Leicester locality and then a smaller one for general use.

Specialised trolleys for heavy duty work were produced in small numbers, notably for stone carrying at the Company's Derbyshire Quarries, for timber traffic and also for carrying boilers.

Two and four wheel covered vans for parcels and other general work, including some fitted for cycle carrying one assumes in Nottingham and Birmingham, were provided and finished in passenger livery and these were frequently to be seen at passenger stations.

Single Horse Vans could carry up to 21, tons and the larger 5 ton vans for city work were pulled by horse pairs.

Some large low bodied vehicles were known as Floats, and these were mostly 4 wheeled. A cranked rear axle the body floated between the wheels allowed a much lower floor and sturdy outside framed sides and ends made these suitable for carrying small livestock. However, some were fitted with securing bars and screw clamps for anchoring tall slim crates etc.

A smaller 2 wheel Float, again low bodied on a cranked axle, was provided for a load of one horse and used in London to ferry sick and lame horses to the Kings Road Sick Bay.

Anything over 1 tons weight demanded the use of a horse team, two, three or four 'matched' for performance and maintained together, and used either side by side or in a tandem pull.

'Dickey' seats were fitted to some of the vans and drays to give the drayman a better high level view in traffic.

Horse omnibuses, withdrawn soon after coming into LMS ownership, were built to five coach built standards and finished in full lined passenger livery. They were maintained in first class condition to comply with the annual statutory inspection standards.

The LMS constituent Companies had prolonged the use of railway owned omnibuses by refusing access to station waiting ranks, but with the popularity of the motor bus they quickly disappeared.

With so many horses the railways had a perpetual problem feeding them. Provender Departments were set up to prepare feed in required quantities, and balanced to suit the different requirements of the horse and the type of work they handled.

Mixtures of hay, straw, sanfoin, clover, oats, beans and maize were despatched for use throughout the system.

Quite apart from the usual stable buildings so often seen in the Goods Yards, larger buildings with stalls for 3/400 horses were provided at St. Pancras and Broad Street in London, and a large Horse Hospital was located in the Kings Road area. Any casualties were despatched for treatment and replaced by a sound animal.

The LMS authorities were very mindful of the importance of the horse and a driver or carter would be punished for any cruelty, violence, negligence or improper driving and he was ordered to treat the horse well to get the best out of him. Each horse was provided with three meals a day on working days with two on rest days. A nosebag was provided so that the horse would have a meal whilst at work and the carter had to ensure the horse was watered at least three times daily whilst at work. Stables were strictly controlled and every effort was made to ensure the horses were maintained in sound condition.

A whole range of operations were covered in the Carters and Stable Staff Instructions and at all times these had to be adhered to. Carters and Cart-boys were not allowed to ride on the shafts or footboards, nor mount and dismount whilst the cart was in motion. Small items had to be sheeted over when working in towns; brakes, wheelskids or chains had to be applied when descending gradients, or during loading or unloading of heavy articles, and also whenever a cart was left unattended.

Liveries of the pre-group companies were well in evidence during early LMS years, but repainting took place as follows:

Trolleys etc.Black with white lettering.
SidesLONDON MIDLAND AND SCOTTISH RAILWAY COMPANY with the vehicle number at the front end.
(Later lettering reduced to L.M.S. RAILWAY CO. and the numbers)
FrontLMS on offside, number on nearside.
RearLMS.
Parcels VansLined passenger livery to waist panel, black canvas top.
Lettering Gold shaded later straw shaded.



Unfortunately the railway photographer has always tended to concentrate on engines and trains, but as many now realise other things formed part of a very complex railway scene, not least the horse and it is a pity that relatively little has been recorded by the camera. Those that have, however, serve to illustrate that basic designs of cart changed little from the early railway days through to their eventual withdrawal in the late 50's.

Further Reading

H.N. Twells, LMS Miscellany. OPC 1982 ISBN 0 860931 72 2

H.N. Twells and T.W. Bourne, A Pictorial Record of LMS Road Vehicles. OPC 1983 ISBN 0 86093 174 9

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