History of the M&GN
In 1923, the railways were ‘grouped’ into what became known as the ‘Big Four’ – the Great Western, London Midland & Scottish, London & North Eastern and the Southern. However, because the parent companies were in separate groups (LMS and LNER), the M&GN remained separate – as did another famous Joint line – the Somerset & Dorset (LMS and Southern parents).
In 1936, however, things changed again. The LNER finally gained agreement with the LMS to take over the M&GN completely. Melton Works, looking after the M&GN rolling stock since 1893, was quickly closed, with many consequent local job losses. A wagon sheet factory was set up in part of the old works, but it never employed more than a fraction of the personnel that had kept the previous establishment running.
LNER locomotives began appearing in ever increasing numbers, with the long serving Midland Railway designs quickly and unsurprisingly being consigned to the scrap heap. There is a strong suspicion that the LNER would close the M&GN very soon after the takeover, but the Second World War intervened.
The M&GN carried an amazing tonnage during the war, as East Anglia became the forward base for the war in Europe. There was also much troop activity, with one report of a troop train from Norwich to Weybourne, for Muckleburgh Camp, that was 14 bogie coaches long, hauled by a plucky little J15 locomotive!
After the War, things were in a bad state. All the nation’s railways were in need of a great deal of investment, just to return them to pre-war standards, let alone any thoughts of modernisation. The M&GN had suffered greatly from the attrition that heavy traffic and no time to perform the necessary maintenance had brought.The Government handed back the railways to the “Big Four” owners, but it was soon clear that only nationalisation could bring the required investment in our Railways.
Consequently, on 1st January 1948, “British Railways” was born.