Across the Boards: Historical Routes for the Railways of 1825

by Lou Jerkich


Although the railways of 1825 essentially represent historical railroads in Great Britian from the era before the 1923 Grouping, it can be difficult at times to plot out the main routes of these railroads.  Some of the cities and towns of importance in the actual routes of each historical line are not even represented on the game map. Moreover, the limitations posed by the track tiles themselves, as well as the board's hexagonal grid, likewise make the task of exactly recreating the historical lines difficult or at times impossible.  Hexags containing two towns or two cities usually cause the most problems in attempting to create a reasonable facsimile of the historical routes, and some historical cities had more railway lines passing through the hexes than is possible using the track tiles of the game.  Nevertheless, for those interested in railway history, the route proposals povided below are suggested as the best approximations to the historical mainlines of these companies in the 1825 game.  In re-creating these routes, all track tiles from Units 1, 2, and 3,  plus those of the various kits of the 1825 series have been employed.

The recreation of historical routes for individual lines in 1825 can be achieved in a general sense, even if the exact particulars are impossible.  However, it is much more difficult to recreate the criss-crossing of routes and lines across the entire combined map of Units 1, 2, and 3, plus the regional kit boards, when all 14 Major Companies and all ten Minor Companies are to be depicted.  I have managed it, albeit poorly in places, except that the combined track tiles of all the Units and kits fall short of one needed brown #63 tile, to be placed at Carlisle, in order to make the routes reasonably complete.  The track descriptions that follow indicate the starting points and the directions the lines should follow to reach their destinations.  Required mainline bases and potential stations for branches are shown in bold font so that legal routes for game purposes can be created.  Naturally, the later trains which can run longer routes will eliminate the need for some of the branch station locations, barring competion with other lines that may require a base to be established to protect one's route.

What follows is a list of the companies showing the grid hexes and tiles therein that are needed to best create their individual routes.  (The tile orientation is shown by the compass direction of the tile number.)  One might challenge some of these route recreations, in which case I invite players to propose alternatives.  The tiles shown are the ones needed in order to create not only the routes being indicated but also to permit connections, junctions, and cross-overs for other railway lines.  If desired, one can backtrack from these tiles to the appropriate yellow, green, or brown tiles to indicate just the original routes of a particular company without reference to the lines of other companies.  Were one to just attempt to depict the routes followed by a single railway company, the task would be much easier than in this multi-railway compilation. 

Also, for reasons unknown to me, the city of Berwick did not get placed on the 1825 Unit 3 map.  It should be located in G13, which is not a permitted track location in the game.  The NBR had a mainline terminus at Berwick, and so did the mainline of the NER.  I have noted track locations as if this hex G13 was a playable hex with the city of Berwick located there.  A type 6 yellow tile fits very well here, and an upgrade during the game to a green type 12 tile is even better.  As an experiment, I suggest making G13/Berwick a playable hex as a variant to 1825.  If players prefer not to make this a playable hex, then the NER should terminate at G9 (Edinburgh) and the NBR should terminate at I13 (Blyth/Ashington).  These two cities would be connected via G11 and H12.  (Note: Due to distance limitations for trains in the 1825 game, while historically Berwick should be part of the NBR and NER, it may possibly be better for the profits of those railroad companies if Berwick does not exist.  Only experimentation in play-tests can determine what impact having a playable hex for Berwick would have on the game.)

The Unit 2 board and the companies located in that region were the most difficult to organize into historical routes.  This is due to the large number of city locations having two separate cities which never connect, even on the grey tiles.  Some routes thus become very difficult to connect, and this is made all the more problematic when base station tokens can block the routes needed, such as at Barnsley and Doncaster, Sheffield and Rotherham, and Wolverhampton and Walsall.  Sometimes, these cities must be interchangeable in their hex in order for the lines to work.  (For example, for the GCR and GNR, Rotherham must sometimes be considered to be Sheffield.) 

Unlike Liverpool when it is a grey station and therefore easy to pass through, it can be very difficult to maintain a route through Birmingham, Manchester, and Glasgow.  Thus, it is possible for the LNWR to build a route direct through Birmingham, but the Midland then cannot also do the same for two separate railways cannot both have a separate route passing directly through Birmingham.  Thus we see the Midland Railway forced to take a circuitous line through Hanley (Q13) and Wolverhampton (R12) in order to reach Birmingham from Derby and then also continue to Bristol.  If a direct connection did exist by orienting the Birmingham grey  tile differently, then it would be the LNWR and the GWR that would have awkward connections and routes.

I have indicated my choices for the placement of additional station tokens beyond the base token.  These would be the most desirable places to place these tokens in the event one was playing a game and wanted to preserve the historical routes depicted here.  In the event that tokens placed at PORTS (those coastal cities having the name of the city printed in white in large capital letters, e.g. Dover, Hull, Stranraer, etc.) will in some future rules supplement or kit be required in order for the PORT benefit to be taken (as with Steam Packets in 1829), I have included such ports as desirable station locations.  I give alternative locations for the station token to be placed in the event that there are no rules being used that make placement of the token in ports an advanatageous endeavor.

The railways listed below are grouped according to the Unit in which they are found.  Note, however, that the LNWR, which appears in both Units 1 and 2 of 1825, has been placed only under Unit 1 in the list below.  The track layouts assume a board situation with all three Units combined.  If working with just one or two of the Units, there would be different mixes of track tiles available and different base locations might be recommended.  (For example, if the track layouts are being placed just on Unit 1's board, the LNWR would have as an extra the Preston base token listed below for placement on the Unit 2 map.)


Part 1A: The Major Railways of Unit 1

Part 1B: The Minor Railways of Unit 1

Part 2: The Railways of Unit 2

Part 3: The Railways of Unit 3

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Originally posted August 7, 2007.  Revised with new format, 25 November 2007.
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