Across the Boards: Historical Routes for the Railways of 1825

by Lou Jerkich

Part 1B: The Minor Railways of Unit 1


LT&S - London, Tilbury & Southend Railway
M&GN - Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway
S&DR - Somerset and Dorset Railway
CRC - Cambrian Railway
TVR - Taff Vale Railway

LT&S - London, Tilbury & Southend Railway [2+2 train]  {Unit 1 Extension Kit: K7}
The London and Blackwell Railway and the Eastern Counties Railway jointly built this short line in 1854 to connect Fenchurch Street Station in London with Tilbury.  In 1856 the line was extended to Southend.  The Midland Railway bought the company in 1912 and ran it until it was absorbed along with its parent by the LMS in 1923. For further information, see LT&SR.

Base:  V22 (Southend) [brown hexag]

Main Line:  V22 (Southend) west to V20 (London-East [Fenchurch Street Station]).

The LT&S has no track to build other than promoting London when possible.  It just needs to be run for the maximum it can earn.  This is one of the most profitable of the Minor Companies. 

M&GN - Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway [4T train]  {Regional Kit: R3}
The Midland Railway and the Great Northern Railway jointly owned this railroad.  It was formed in 1893 by amalgamating several smaller lines in the area.  The M&GN enabled its two parent companies to convey industrial and resort traffic from Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham through the various cities of the Midlands to Norwich, Great Yarmouth and other points in Norfolk.  At some 180 miles, the M&GN was the longest joint railway in the United Kingdom, but some 60% of it was single track.  At the 1923 grouping the LNER and the LMS became its new joint owners.  For further information, see M&GN.

Base:  Q23 (Melton Constable) [brown hexag]

Main Line: Peterborough to Great Yarmouth
R20 (Peterborough) [166sw], E to R22 [8ne or 24w], NE to Q23 (Melton Constable) [brown hexag], E to Q25 [8w], SE to R26 (Great Yarmouth) [12w].

Branch Line: Melton Constable to Norwich
Q23 (Melton Constable) [brown hexag], SE to R24 (Norwich) [38e].

Notes on M&GN track building and routes:
A #8ne tile in hexag R22 is actually all that is necessary for the M&GN unless the earlier presence of an east-west tile #9 in R22 requires the upgrade to #24w.  It is the GER, running a train from Norwich to Peterborough which would want to have an east-west line in R22.

Since Regional Kit R3 comes with a Halt tile [#11] and since the company comes with a 4T train that can use a Halt, it makes sense for the M&GN player to make use of one or two Halts if possible to increase his earnings.  R22 is a potential location for a Halt (Wisbech) on the historical M&GN routes.  Moreover, it would be possible for the M&GN to also use Halts on hexags S21 or S23 if conveniently oriented, and a route from Melton Constable to Peterborough (or Norwich) and thence to Cambridge and on to London would be excellent for revenue purposes, especially if one or two Halts were added in along the way.  These latter routes, however, would not be historical.

In order to benefit the most from multiple yellow tile lays per turn, the M&GN should build first in both directions along the coast.  In its second turn lay yellow tiles on Peterborough and Great Yarmouth if not already present.  If Norwich, Great Yarmouth, or Peterborough is already yellow or green when the M&GN takes its first operating round, then the first two for these are likely to have connections further south on the GER lines.  Peterborough may have been reached by the GNR or the Midland.  Linking quickly to one or more of these three cities through existing lines may be more profitable than building its historical routes along the coast, although a run from Peterborough to Melton Constable to Great Yarmouth to Norwich is a reasonable core route for this company.

S&DR - Somerset and Dorset Railway [5-train]  {Regional Kit: R2}
The Somerset and Dorset had originally been formed in 1862 from the Somerset Central which built east from Highbridge to Templecombe where it could join the Dorset Railway heading north from Bournemouth.  After the Midland Railway connected to Bath in 1869, the S&D built north to connect with it there.  Bath was reached in July 1874 and the Bath-Bournmeouth route then became the Main Line.  The Midland connected to the line at Bath, while the southern end of the S&DR route reached Bournemouth on the LSWR line from Southampton to Weymouth.  Financial problems in the Somerset and Dorset Railway caused it to lease itself on 1 November 1875 jointly to the Midland and LSWR Railways.  In 1923, ownership of the S&DR passed jointly to the LMS and the Southern Railway.  For more information, see S&DR.

Base:  W9 (Highbridge) [new brown tile from Regional Kit: R2]

Main LineHighbridge and Bath to Bournemouth
W9 (Highbridge) [new brown tile from Regional Kit: R2], E to W11 (Bath) [166w], SE to X12 [19nw], SE to Y13 (Bournemouth) [brown hexag].

Notes on S&DR track building and routes:
The S&DR base at W9 is on a special brown tile used to replace the original Unit 1 brown hexag located at W9 when Regional Kit R2 is in use.  The historical route, which is essentially "Y"-shaped, cannot be duplicated on the 1825 Unit 1 board if one is to maintain the historical LSWR and GWR routes.  At best, the route can extend from Highbridge to neighboring Bath in W11 and then turn southeast via X12 to Bournemouth in Y13. 

In building the route from Highbridge to Bournemouth via Bath, the two ends are already fixed as brown hexags.  Bath should begin as a double town yellow tile, #56w, which eventually will promote to green #15se and then to the grey-russet tile #166w.  The connection to Bournemouth will be made in X12 with a #9nw tile or, if needed to cross a pre-existing LSWR line, a green #19nw tile.  Thus the historical S&DR route will be reproduced as best as possible on the Unit 1 map.

The connection of the S&DR from Bath to the Midland Railway involves heading NE toward the GWR line to Bristol and curving back westward along it in hexag V12.  (This is necessary because the #51 tile in V10 (Bristol) cannot legally be oriented with the blank side facing northwest.  The next best seems to be to place tile #51 with the blank side on the southeast, facing Bath.)  The Midland may have already built this track link, but regardless, the S&DR's routes must include its only station at Highbridge, so there will be a route from there to Bristol that cannot be blocked.  In the game, the S&DR comes with a 5-train, so if it follows its historical core route from Highbridge to Bournemouth, two more cities will need to be added to the run.  Bristol and Southampton are two obvious candidates, but Cardiff/Newport or Gosport are also candidates if the track is extended in only one direction from the core route.

CRC - Cambrian Railway [U3 train]  {Regional Kit: R1}
Covering the heartland of Wales, the amalgamation of various small railway lines that became the Cambrian Railways (CRC) had connections with the London & North Western Railway to the north and east and also with the Great Western Railway to the south.  The Cambrian Railway was incorporated in 1864 with additions in 1865 and 1904.  It's headquarters were at Oswestry to the northwest of Shrewsbury but which is depicted in the 1825 game due west of Shrewsbury.  On January 1 of 1922 it was absorbed by the Great Western Railway.   For further information, see CRC.

Base:  R8 (Oswestry)

Main LineWhitchurch to Aberystwyth
Q9 (Whitchurch - not shown) [45nw], SW to R8 Base (Oswestry) [14w], W to R6 [81sw], SW to S5 (Aberystwyth) [4sw]. {Connections to GWR at Aberystwyth and to LNWR at Whitchurch.}

Branch Lines:
1. Oswestry to Portmadoc: R8 Base (Oswestry) [14w], W to R6 [81sw], NW to Q5 (Portmadoc) [4se] and there link to LNWR line from Holyhead PORT. 
2. Oswestry to Merthyr Tydfil:  R8 Base (Oswestry) [14w], SW to S7 [28se], SE to T8 (Brecon--not shown) [28nw], SW to U7(Merthyr Tydfil) [56se or 15ne].
3. Oswestry to Shrewsbury to Swansea:  R8 Base (Oswestry) [14w], E to R10 (Shrewsbury) [166sw], SW to S9 [25ne], W to S7 [28se], SE to T8 (Brecon--not shown) [28nw], W to T6 [8sw], SW to U5 [11w], SE to V6 (Swansea PORT) [brown hexag].  {Note: The LNWR's route to Swansea must run congruent with this one.}

The Cambrian Railway (CRC) must begin by placing a #5 or #6 large city tile on hexag R8 to create its home base.  The tile chosen will be naturally dependent on the tiles and connections in play already so that the CRC can maximize its earnings in the city-sparse lands in which it develops.  Because it has a U3 train which is limited to only 3 large stations but can also count any number of small ones, the CRC does not mind running through smaller towns.  However, the problem with the CRC is that its area of the board is least likely to be developed when it begins operating, so the Director will be inclined to head for the nearest group of large cities so as to increase the CRC's revenues.

Most likely, the Cambrian's Director will point one segment of track on its initial home base tile toward Shrewsbury in order to gain a solid income base.  Thereafter, there are many options.  The key to success in the long run, however, may be in ensuring that two yellow tiles are placed each turn so that significant cities and smaller towns for bonus revenue can be reached quickly.  For example, the placement of tile #6sw in Oswestry on its first turn will permit it to build into Shrewsbury on its second turn while also beginning a line that will eventually stretch to Merthyr Tydfil and then Cardiff/Newport, which as a grey tile would be worth 70.  On turn 3, from Shrewsbury one could build northwest into Q9 to link to the brown hexag in P8 which eventually turns the route back toward Manchester, another city with the potential to be worth 70 GBP.  These two plus Oswestry and Merthyr Tydfil would give the U3 train a revenue of 180 or so when all its cities are promoted.  Upgrading Oswestry to a green tile #14w also permits another branch of yellow track to be placed west toward Portmadoc or Aberystwyth while building toward Merthyr.

Note that the second and third branch lines shown above cannot be used simultaneously because they share some common track in the middle of their routes.  It may well be that the CRC will build only one of these two, and should it be the second one, include Shrewsbury as part of the route.  Although I have depicted Shrewsbury with the #166sw tile as its ultimate upgrade, other promotions may prove more profitable to this company.  It all depends on whether a useful link to Wolverhampton in R12 can be created.  A #15 green tile will probably be better than a #14 tile in Shrewsbury, assuming the CRC will be heading southwest from there, and this would eventually promote to tile #166sw.  However, another development route in Shrewsbury would be from a #5 tile connecting to Oswestry to a green #12 tile facing northwest, west, and southwest.  The ugrade to a russet #38 tile would then provide the extra track segment heading east to Wolverhampton, and that tile could eventually promote to tile #51, which is worth 50 comapred to tile #166's 40.  Both #51 and #166 have an identical track pattern.

TVR - Taff Vale Railway [4T train]  {Regional Kit: R1}
The Taff Vale Railway was formed in 1836 to convey chiefly iron and coal through the Taff Valley in South Wales between Merthyr Tydfil and Cardiff.  This small but profitable line was built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel who later went on to build the Great Western Railway.  Although the main line was only 24 miles long, 23 branch lines extended the railway's total track distance to 124 miles.  In the 1923 regrouping, the Taff  Vale Railway became a part of the Great Western Railway.  For more information, see Taff Vale Railway.

Base:  V8 (Cardiff/Newport)

Main Line:
Cardiff/Newport to Merthyr Tydfil: V8 (Cardiff/Newport) [168e], NW to U7 (Merthyr Tydfil/Ebbw Vale) [56se or 15ne].

The Taff Vale Railway has a 4T train but a very short route.  It builds it's own route quite easily, but the main line for the Taff Vale is insufficient for acquiring a reasonable amount of revenue.  The only recourse for the Taff Vale Director is to also run on track that would historically have belonged to other companies, in particular the GWR, LNWR, or Cambrian, depending on which companies have built nearby and/or connected to it.  Historically the Taff Vale was a very profitable railway, paying 6% dividend and at one time running two trains per minute through its busiest station.  As a grey tile #168, its Cardiff home base will be worth 70, which is an excellent start for solid revenue performance.   Merthyr Tydfil is only worth 10, however, unless its original recommended tile #56se is upgraded to green tile#15ne.  The promotion to tile #15ne can be seen as reflecting the network of profitable branch lines the Taff Vale Railway had in South Wales.

The desirable final tile for V8 (Cardiff/Newport) is #168e which is valued at 70 and connects in four directions, the other two directions being the sea.  Either green tiles #10 (value £30) or #52 (value £40) will work initially in Cardiff/Newport, but once chosen, the subsequent promotion to a russet tile follows one of several paths.  Tile #10 connects Cardiff west to Swansea while track from Newport connects east toward the Bristol hexag.  With tile #52, if Cardiff connects to Swansea, then Newport's track will head northeast, whereas Cardiff's will head northwest if Newport's points toward Bristol.  Note that the game rules for Regional Kit R1 permit the Director of the Taff Vale to essentially choose whether Cardiff or Newport will be the home base for this company.  Historically, Cardiff would be the appropriate connection, but game circumstances might lead the director to choose Newport instead.

Tile #10 may promote to russet tile #35 (value £40) which would create a route from Swansea to Cardiff and then exit the hexag to the northeast.  Meanwhile, Newport would point east toward Bristol and northwest toward MerthyrTydfil.  This has the advantage over russet tile #37 that either of the large cities can be part of a connecting route in two directions rather than merely a terminus for a route. 

Tile #10 can also promote to russet tile #37 (value £40) which makes a straight connection between both Swansea to the west and the Bristol hexag to the east.  Cardiff and Newport are stations on sidings off of this main line, and they are positioned so as to permit train traffic in only one direction from the given station.  Not until the grey #168 tile is placed in hexag V8 will Cardiff and Newport be joined into one metropolis with tracks leading in all four permitted directions.  Tile #10 and the promotion to tile #37 probably favors the GWR the most, since it allows it to either terminate a run via Bristol in Newport or bypass Newport and run to Swansea and beyond.

Tile #66 is the only possible russet tile of value £50 that can be used to promote tile #52 in the V8 hexag.  Either Cardiff or Newport, whichever had a connection either west or east out of the hexag, will now be located on a straight line of track running from Swansea east toward Bristol.  The other city on tile #66 will have connections leading both northwest and northeast.  None of the other tiles (#64, #65, #67, #68) worth £50 in value can physically work in V8 since one of the track segments would illegally head into the sea.

Tile #118, which is found in the tile mix of Unit 3, apparently also is supposed to be an upgrade for tile #52.  However, this would be an upgrade that produces no increase in vlaue for the cities on the tile.  They would both remain at value £40.  To my mind tile #118 is better as an upgrade for tile #10, whose initial city value is only £30.  The track segments shown on tile #118 are the only ones on a russet tile that physically will work as an upgrade to either tile #10 or tile #52.  Using tile #118, Cardiff would link west to Swansea and northwest to Merthyr Tydfil.  Newport would have segments leading east toward Bristol and another to the northeast.  From a historical perspective, tile #118 may be the best fit for the Taff Vale Railway until grey tile #168 becomes available. 

In terms of creating its historical route, only the sequence of tile #10 promoting to tile #35 will link Merthyr Tydfil in U7 directly to a city in V8 that then connects to Bristol, although it will be via Newport rather than Cardiff.  That connection to Merthyr Tydfil, however, won't occur until the promotion to the russet tile.  The sequence of tile #52 promoting to tile #66 will permit Cardiff (or Newport) to connect directly with hexag U7, both as a green and as a russet tile. But russet tile #118, as shown previously, does connect Cardiff to both Merthyr Tydfil and Swansea.

Return to Lou's Game Corner: Rail Game Links
Originally posted August 7, 2007.  Revised with new format, 21 October 2007.  Further modifications are in progress.
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