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British Railway Company Flags

Last modified: 2012-06-23 by rob raeside
Keywords: railway |
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Great Western Railway

In the 1930s the flag was white with a red border top and bottom and part of the arms of the GWR in the centre; the shield and crest of the cities of Bristol and London within a garter bearing the name of the company.
David Prothero, 14 March 2008


Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway

[Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway flag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 18 February 2007

Post card collection shows a blue and red quartered flag with a large white Maltese cross over all and white serif capital letters "L" on the hoist side blue area and "Y" on the fly side blue area.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 18 February 2007


Lancashire and Yorkshire & North Eastern Railways / Hull & Zeebrugge Service

[Lancashire and Yorkshire & North Eastern Railways flag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 4 July 2007

Post card collection shows “LYR/NER Joint Service, Hull”. A variant of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway flag, we see the same blue and red quartered flag without the central emblem, however, and bearing white initials LY (upper quarters) and NE (lower quarters).

See also the on-line 1912 Lloyds Flags & Funnels: http://www.mysticseaport.org/library/initiative/Impage.cfm?PageNum=74&bibid=11061&ChapterId=8, no. 1520 bearing the LYNE initials (‘Lancashire and Yorkshire & North Eastern Railways / Hull & Zeebrugge Service') and no. 1521 bearing the cross and the LY initials ('Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway / Goole and Continental Service').

The NER mentioned above was the North Eastern Railway absorbed by the London & North Western Railway (1923) which had acquired Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway the year before. All this and much more on this Ships List page, first of a set of four:
http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/lines/feeders.html

L&YR enthusiasts site:
http://www.lyrs.org.uk/

Simplon PC pages which will come in handy:
http://www.simplonpc.co.uk/LMS_LYR1.html
http://www.simplonpc.co.uk/LMS_LYR2.html
Jan Mertens, 20 February 2007

[variant flag] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 May 2012

The variant flag is quarterly divided into blue (upper hoist/lower fly) and red (lower hoist/upper fly). In the quarters are white initials “L” (upper hoist), “y” (upper fly, lower case(!!)), “N” (lower hoist) and “E” (lower fly). Source: Lloyds F&F 1912; p.109, image 1520
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 May 2012


Lancashire and Yorkshire & London and North Western Railways

[Lancashire and Yorkshire & London and Northwestern Railways flag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 1 August 2007

Post card collection shows a red flag with a white cross throughout charged with a green shamrock on its center and with white lettering in all four red quarters (clockwise from the top hoist): "L&Y", "L&NW", "RLY" and "COYS"
António Martins-Tuválkin, 21 February 2007

The shamrock seems to refer to an Irish connection. This company did run services from London to Holyhead, part of the main route by train and sea to Dublin, and carried Irish mail on this route, but I wouldn't have expected this to be emphasised in the flag. The Lancashre and Yorkshire entered into a working relationship with the London & North Western Railway in 1922, but they then grouped into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in 1923.
Jonathan Dixon, 21 February 2007


London & North Western Railway

[London and Northwestern Railway flag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 19 February 2007

Post card collection shows a red burgee with a white cross throughout and over all a very large white disc edged black containing a representation of Britannia.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 19 February 2007


London & South Western Railway

[London and Southwestern Railway flag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 9 January 2008

Post card collection shows a blue flag with large cartouche filled with the following arms: Per pale, the I London, and the second per fess Argent and Gules three roses two and one counterchanged.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 19 February 2007

An image of the flag is present in 1912 Lloyds Flags & Funnels, no. 1203: http://www.mysticseaport.org. See also here (bearing in mind that this is a modern re-creation for commercial purposes). The shield is less simple, it may be a later version. The roses at any rate represent the company seat, Southampton.

Some history can be found at http://www.soc.staffs.ac.uk/~cmtdtr/collect/lsw_enam.html, http://www.simplonpc.co.uk/SR_LSWR1.html and for Southampton at http://www.ngw.nl/int/gbr/s/southamp.htm.
Jan Mertens, 23 February 2007

A light blue flag with a large emblem on it, showing a coat of arms shield encircled by a garter. I used slightly different renditions of this taken from http://www.moonroller.com/jebbitt/graphics/lswr.gif and http://www.moonroller.com/jebbitt/graphics/lsw_enam.gif.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 9 January 2008


London & South Western and London, Brighton & Southern Coast Railway

[London & South Western and London, Brighton & Southern Coast 
Railway] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 9 January 2008

Post card collection shows a horizontally divided flag with the flag of the London and Southwestern Railway (q.v.) on top and a blue saltire on white, charged with a red cross coupe, on the bottom. Can we assume that the latter pattern is the flag of the London, Brighton & Southern Coast Railway?
António Martins-Tuválkin, 9 January 2008


London, Brighton & South Coast Railway (also French State Railways Newhaven-Dieppe Service)

[London, Brighton & South Coast railway flag] image located by António Martins-Tuválkin, 19 February 2007

A website showing objects recovered from shipwrecks http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~indigo/flags.htm (fourth picture) shows the house flag of the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway. It can be described as a St George cross – red on white, throughout – with the upper left quarter diagonally divided blue above white ((ascending diagonal), the upper right one diagonally divided red above white (descending diagonal), the lower left one white above red (descending diagonal) and the lower right one white above blue (ascending diagonal). The company name gives precedence to the British side but it also has French connections. The initials L.B. & S.C. are shown on the garter surrounding the flag but also the word ‘Ouest’ (French for ‘West’) and an additional scroll bears the words ‘Newhaven & Dieppe Service’.

Here is a link to Dominique Cureau's site on French house flags, where the flag is basically the same – the cross is somewhat thicker – identified as that of the French State railway (source given as Talbot-Booth). The on-line 1912 Lloyds Flags & Funnels has this flag as well under No. 1800. under ‘London Brighton & South Coast and French State Railways Newhaven-Dieppe Service’.

The British company existed – in this form – from 1846 to 1923, as documented at http://www.lbscr.demon.co.uk/index.html. More information about the French connection (1867 text) can be found at http://steve.pickthall.users.btopenworld.com/ssx1867/newhaven1867.html:

“Newhaven has become a considerable port for continental traffic; a branch of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway connects it with London, and fast steamers ply daily to and from Dieppe, in connection with the Western Railway of France (Chemins de Fer de l’Ouest, jm), forming the most direct line from London to Paris: this route is preferred by many, not only for its regularity and cheapness, but also for the beauty of the scenery from Dieppe to Paris.”

The following page shows a series of French posters for this service: http://perso.wanadoo.fr/roland.arzul/etat/affiches/affiches5.htm, and another page (in French) gives the date of foundation of the common service as 1859, shows the house flag, etc.: http://perso.wanadoo.fr/roland.arzul/etat/inattendu/dieppe.htm. The Chemins de Fer de l’Ouest became French state property in 1908.
Jan Mertens, 23 November 2005

This post card collection confirms the flag.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 19 February 2007


London, Chatham & Dover Railway

[London, Chatham & Dover Railway] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 9 January 2008

Post card collection shows an ascending diagonally divided flag of blue over red with lettering "LC&DR" in bold white sans serif capitals, slightly offset to the top.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 9 January 2008

[London, Chatham & Dover Railway] image by Eugene Ipavec, 24 July 2010

Griffin 1891 (a later edition that Griffin 1883) gives a variant version with slender initials (no serifs), three dots only, and without ampersand. A more important difference however is the descending diagonal line defining a blue hoist and a red fly which is no. 324 on p. 16 of that source. Caption: ‘Lon. Chatham & Dover Ry, London’.
   I really do not know which version is the right one (that is, supposing the house flag was never modified). In any case the company started out as the East Kent Railway (1858) and adapted its new name one year later. As we know, it merged with South Eastern Railway in 1899. More information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London,_Chatham_and_Dover_Railway.
Jan Mertens, 19 August 2009


London, Midland and Scottish Railway

[London, Midland and Scottish Railway flag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 19 February 2007

Post card collection shows a red flag with a white cross throughout and over all a very large white disc edged black containing the company emblem, which is a heraldic crest (wing on a torse charged with what seems to be a cross per gyronny) surrounded at the bottom and sides by branches of thistle (fly) and rose (hoist), which are canting elements.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 19 February 2007

The wing is a dragon's, it bears a red cross and refers to the crest of the City of London (where the wing is silver however): http://www.railwayfriends.org/plaqueslarge/rc18.html.

The above given for detail, this one seems nearer the mark:
http://www.kesr.org.uk/acatalog/London_Midland_Scottish_Railway_badge.jpg
Jan Mertens, 22 February 2007


Midland Railway Co.

[Midland Railway flag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 19 February 2007

Post card collection shows a white swallowtail flag with the crest of the company coat of arms on it (http://www.midlandrailwaystudycentre.org.uk/MirrorCrest.gif). This is a green wyvern with red and white striped belly and red spinal horns and wings.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 10 January 2008


London & North Eastern Railway

[London and North Eastern Railway flag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 21 February 2007

Post card collection shows a blue flag with a white saltire charged over all with a white red-edged lenticular shape charged with red sans-serif capitals spelling "LNER", the two middle letters being larger.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 21 February 2007

The saltire would seem to be a reference to the fact that the LNER operated the East Coast Main Line link between London and Edinburgh, including the famous Flying Scotsman service. The LNER was formed in 1923 as a result of the 1921 Railways Act grouping the railways. It served the east of Scotland and England north of London, and existed until nationalisation in 1948.
Jonathan Dixon, 21 February 2007

1923-33 flags were also in this pattern but the LNER logo is shown in the post card collection in a pillbox shape (the outline of two discs connected by parallel tangents). Additionally these three flags had a specific symbol on the hoist side triangle area of the background. None of these is shown on the LNER coat of arms:
http://www.crphillips-models.co.uk

[London and North Eastern Railway flag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 8 August 2007

London & North Eastern Rly. (1923-33 for former Gr. Central Rly. Ships). As described, with white red fimbriated upright five-pointed star.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 8 August 2007

[London and North Eastern Railway flag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 8 August 2007

London & North Eastern Rly. (1923-33 for former Gr. Eastern Rly. Ships). As described, with red wing crest on torse. This seems to be the London city crest, but the wing is depicted as plain red, not patterned after a St. George Cross.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 8 August 2007

[London and North Eastern Railway flag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 9 August 2007

London & North Eastern Rly. (1923-33 for former North British Rly. Steamers. As described, with white ogival shield charged with a thistle proper (the image is too small to be sure, though).
António Martins-Tuválkin, 9 August 2007

The common house flag with an identifying emblem in the hoist was introduced 17 February 1932 as an economy measure. The original house flags, introduced 24 April 1923 were:
Harwich. St Andrew's flag with a red dragon's left wing on a central white circle.
Grimsby. A white star on a red pennant.
Scottish Services. Thistle on a white shield on a red pennant.
[National Archives (PRO) RAIL 390/305]
David Prothero, 7 January 2009


North British Railway

North British Railway houseflag image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 6 May 2010

From a postcard collection: 10.3.1: North British Railway
Postcard #10, 3rd row, 1st flag of the collection reads "North British Railway" and shows a red pennant with a black thistle on a white, black edged, ogival shield.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 6 May 2010


South Eastern Railway

South Eastern Railway houseflag image by Eugene Ipavec, 18 August 2009

A British railway firm operating ships was the South Eastern Railway Co. founded in 1844. As described by The Ships List:

“In 1854 the South Eastern Railway Company took over the fleet of the South Eastern & Continental SP Company and ran Folkestone / Dover-Boulogne / Ostend services. In 1899 the company merged its fleet with the London, Chatham & Dover Railway to form the South Eastern & Chatham Railway Company joint fleet. (...)  They ran services between Folkestone / Dover - Calais / Boulogne. In 1923 they became part of Southern Railway.”

Griffin’s ‘Flags National and Mercantile’ (1891), from the third edition of Griffin (1885), shows the house flag under no. 515: ‘S. Eastern Railway Co. London’.  It is a dark blue field, white initials “S.E.R” (two dots only; no serifs). The ‘Scran’ site shows a modern rendition with three dots: http://www.scran.ac.uk/database/record.php?usi=000-000-550-930-C. Additional information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Eastern_Railway_(UK) and http://www.simplonpc.co.uk/SR_SECR1.html.
Jan Mertens, 17 August 2009

South Eastern Railway houseflag image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 10 May 2010

Variant flag shown on a postcard collection: 11.2.14 South Eastern Railway.
Postcard #11, 2nd row, 4th flag of the collection reads "South Eastern Railway", early funnels black, and shows a dark blue flag with "SER" centered on it, set in white bold san-serif capitals [without periods].
António Martins-Tuválkin, 10 May 2010

South Eastern Railway houseflag image by Neale Rosanoski, 4 December 2010

According to Lloyds (1912) and the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce 1885 sheet the letters, without dots, were in the base of the flag and above them was a vertical white anchor. The version without the anchor is shown by Griffin (1883) [no edition number given] which shows dots after each letter in line with the Scran site and also it is so described in Merchant Fleets No. 24 where the author states that the flag was "blue with the white letters S.E.R." although it is then displayed on the on the back cover without dots in line with the image by António.
Neale Rosanoski, 4 December 2010


South Eastern and Chatham Railway

Stag Line houseflag image by Eugene Ipavec, 19 August 2009

The on-line 1912 Lloyds Flags & Funnels shows the house flag as no. 1793 on original page 122:
http://library.mysticseaport.org/initiative/ImPage.cfm?PageNum=87&BibId=11061&ChapterId=8 - Divided per ascending diagonal, blue (hoist) and red (fly), white company initials “S.E.C.R.” over all; these letters are rather thin and have no serifs. The complete caption found in this 1912 source: ‘South Eastern & Chatham Railway, Royal Mail Service, London’.
Jan Mertens, 18 August 2009

South Eastern & Chatham Railway houseflag image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 13 May 2010

Variant flag shown on a postcard collection: 12.1.1 South Eastern and Chatham Railway.
Postcard #11, 1st row, 1st flag of the collection reads "South Eastern and Chatham Railway", and shows a ~2:3 diagonally divided flag, blue on the upper hoist and red on the lower fly reading "SE&CR" in one centered line overall set in white bold sans serif capitals. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Eastern_and_Chatham_Railway & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Eastern_and_Chatham_Railway#Ships about the company and its ships (I have no idea if the flag was used also ashore).
António Martins-Tuválkin, 13 May 2010


Southern Railway

Stag Line houseflag image by Eugene Ipavec, 17 August 2009

From http://www.plimsoll.org/OnTheLine/ShippingLines/southernrailwaycompany/default.asp#2:

The London & South Western Railway, active since 1840, starts shipping in 1843 as the 'New South Western Steam Navigation Company'. Other railway firms start cross-Channel and coastal shipping lines; various mergers occur. Finally, in 1923, "the London & South Western, London Brighton & South Coast and South Eastern & Chatham Railway Companies merge to form the Southern Railway. The new company operates trains and ships across the south east of England". When after WWII the British Transport Commission assumes control of the railways, the shipping activities follow (1948). The situation does not change on the formation of British Rail, however its shipping activities come to an end when Stena and Sealink UK acquire them (1979).
The Southern Railway house flag was blue with a red cross throughout, fimbriated white, and white letters 'S' (upper hoist) and 'R' (lower fly).
Jan Mertens, 15 April 2005

An image of a Southern Railway flag is seen at http://www.bluebell-railway-museum.co.uk/images/a007.JPG.
Jan Mertens, 16 August 2009

A postcard collection: 12.1.2 Southern Railway.
Postcard #11, 1st row, 2nd flag of the collection reads "Southern Railway", and shows essentially the same flag as above, but in the brighter shades of both red and dark blue of this source; the red cross is thicker and its white fimbriation thinner, as well as the letters.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 13 May 2010