The 1923 Grouping – Robin Gibbons

This was originally planned to be a presentation by Peter Davis, author of a recent book “F W Webb’s Three -Cylinder Compounds” on the subject matter of his book. However, due to technical difficulties at the last moment we had to substitute a presentation by our Chairman, Robin Gibbons, entitled  “The 1923 Grouping”. Robin had given this presentation to a national Zoom meeting of the Stephenson Locomotive Society in December. The talk covered a brief history of the railways in the UK in the 19th Century and their development, government regulation of fares, the government’s attitude to competition and amalgamation, types of combination and cooperation among railway companies, then moving on to World War 1 and the period of government control, the development of proposals for organisation of the railways post-War, a look at the genesis of the Railway Act 1921, the actual Groups, how the Grouping was implemented, issues which arose, and a brief look at financial issues and the situation post-Grouping. The talk threw up some fascinating snippets such as open access legislated in early railway acts, the working agreement which created the SECR, a quick look at running powers and working arrangements, the original grouping proposals in the White Paper, some amusing issues which arose on absorbing the smaller companies, several of whom were insolvent (and one of which had ceased to exist), and the problems the LMS had with getting the Caledonian Railway to agree on terms etc.