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LMSS Masthead

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


Photo of Central Hotel Glasgow The ex-Caledonian Railway Central Hotel, Glasgow.

The LMS took over 40 hotels spread throughout the system with a capital value of £4 million, and became the owners of the largest hotel business in Europe.

The railway hotels were renowned for high standards of cuisine and elegant furnishings, and the majority enjoyed unrivalled positions adjacent to stations, important for travellers in the years before the car was commonplace.

The Euston Hotel had been the first railway-owned hotel in the world when opened in 1839 and it was still regarded as a place of pompous grandeur in LMS ownership. The hotel chain was spread throughout the system and during the period 1923-1939 four hotels were found to be redundant or obsolete and closed, whilst two new ones were opened and a further three were completely rebuilt.

Despite the closures and sales of properties, the capital employed in the hotels rose from £4m in 1923 to over £5.lm by 1929, and further sums followed.

Income was substantial, £3.3m in 1923 and slightly less in 1938 £3.08m and after overheads a useful profit was returned - 1923 1571,000 1938 £330,900. In relation to capital employed this represented an earnings ratio - 1923 12.5% reducing to around 5-6% in 1938, yet still better than a straightforward investment income when interest rates were low.

In addition to the hotels in the LMS network, a further four were owned in Ireland, three through the N.C.C. and one through the D & N & G Rly.

Advertising panels listing the principal hotels appeared in public timetables, passenger compartments and on station noticeboards.

The name of the hotel often indicated earlier company ownership and in addition the telegraphic addresses bore similar witness with the North Western's "Bestotel" and the Midlands "midotel" - yet all acclaimed "the best". Up to 7,000 staff were employed in the Hotels Department, including those staffing Company Launderies, refreshment rooms and kiosks.

Allied to the hotels, the LMS owned three golf courses adjacent to Scottish hotels, and a holiday camp at Prestalyn in partnership with Thos. Cook & Sons.

An interesting feature is that the Impressario Henry Hall was employed by the LMS in charge of dance orchestras. Based at the famous Gleneagles Hotel he later left the Company to join the B.B.C.

In 1939, 28 hotels were open and in common with many organisations the Government requisitioned part of the chain for war service. Six hotels were completely taken over and in addition parts of others were similarly claimed, until 14 hotels still plied for paying visitors. From 330,000 guests in 1938 the numbers rose during the war years to 580,000 in 1943, a substantial increase. Even in the darkest days of war when many establishments suffered considerable damage, none were completely closed down. Staff problems were inevitably to follow conscription of the hotel men, and women in considerable numbers, and old employees returned to service to keep the hotels open.

A Chief Hotels Superintendent had responsibility for the entire hotel, catering and laundry operation - in this latter respect some 39 million "pieces" of laundry were washed in 1938.

Silverware and china taken over in 1923 were gradually replaced by items with the LMS insignia but many pre-group items survived into public ownership in 1948.

After the war some attempts were made to raise standards in the hotels to their former prestigous levels but the nationalisation era commenced when many food controls were still stringent and the final years of LMS ownership were occupied in recovering from the effects of the war.

LMS HOTELS - 31st December, 1929
Owned and Worked by the Company.
LocationHotel NameNotes
Birmingham, New St.Queens HotelHeavy war damageOpen in 1946
BletchleyStationClosed by 1935
BradfordMidland War damaged
CreweCrewe ArmsOpen in 1946
DerbyMidlandVery minor war damageOpen in 1946
Furness AbbeyFurness Abbey
HolyheadStationOpen in 1946
KeighleyQueensClosed by 1935
LeedsQueensCompletely rebuiltOpen in 1946
Liverpool, Lime St. Stn.North WesternClosed by 1935
Liverpool, Exchange Stn.ExchangeHeavy war damageOpen in 1946
LiverpoolAdelphiHeavy war damageOpen in 1946
London, Euston Stn.EustonHeavy war damage - suffered direct hitOpen in 1946
London, St. PancrasMidland GrandClosed by 1935
ManchesterMidlandHeavy war damageOpen in 1946
MorecambeMidlandRequisitioned in 1939
PrestonParkOpen in 1946
AyrStationOpen in 1946
DornochDornochRequisitioned in 1939
DumfriesStationOpen in 1946
Edinburgh, Princes St. Stn.CaledonianOpen in 1946
Glasgow, Central Stn.CentralPart requisitionedOpen in 1946
Glasgow, St. Enoch Stn.St. EnochPart requisitionedOpen in 1946
GleneaglesGleneaglesRequisitioned in 1939.
International Reputation. Two magnificent Golf Courses. 9 Tennis Courts.
InvernessStationOpen in 1946
Kyle of LochaishStationPart requisitioned in 1939.
Modernised and a new wing added in 1934. Deep sea fishing.
Open in 1946
StrathpefferHighlandRequisitioned in 1939
Turnberry, AyrshireTurnberryRequisitioned in 1939.
Two Golf Courses. Four Tennis Courts.
Hotels Owned but not Worked by the Company at 31st December, 1929
Alderley EdgeQueensClosed
LeekChurnet ValleyClosed
Stoke-on-TrentNorth StaffordLater taken into LMS ManagementOpen in 1946
Jointly Owned and Operated
PerthStationTwo-thirds LMS owned
Hotels Purchased After 1929
Stratford-on-AvonWelcombeRequisitioned in 1939
Listed as 'Once a stately residence standing in its own magnificent grounds'.
LMS Hotels in Ireland
BelfastMidland StationWar damagedN.C.C.
PortrushNorthern CountiesN.C.C.
GreenoreGreenoreD.N. & G. Rlwy.

Further Reading

V.R. Anderson and G.K. Fox, A Pictorial Record of LMS Architecture. OPC 1981 ISBN 0 86093 083 1

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

H.N. Twells, LMS Miscellany Volume 3. OPC 1986 ISBN 0 86093 383 0


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