Historical places in Thurrock

London Tilbury and Southend Railway Company, and successors

The History of the London Tilbury & Southend Railway (LTSR) can be traced back to the 1850s when two Railway Companies, the London & Blackwell Railway and the Eastern Counties Railway when a railway line to Tilbury was planned under two Acts in 1852 & 1856, but at this time there was no intention of running to Southend but only to Tilbury Fort as the station was known and across the river to Gravesend using steamers to attract visitors to the Rosherville Pleasure Gardens near Gravesend. The company was also interesting in the steamer & cattle trade from Thames Haven. The line at this point was leased to the contractors Peto, Brassey & Betts.

The final few miles were to run along Southend Seafront into a station next to the pier entrance but was rejected due to complaints about noise and the station was further sited up the High Street which was opened in 1856.

The line reached Tilbury on April 13th 1854 and a few months later reached Stanford Le Hope. The Act of 1854 allowed the Company to buy up a small local Company, the Thames Haven Dock & Railway Company including wharves.

In the 1880s when the LTSR became an independent company, they were able to design their own steam engines, which were to become the famous Tilbury Tanks of which only one now survives No 80 Thundersley. They all carried names of local towns for example:

  • No 3 Tilburies
  • No 10 Grays
  • No 11 Stanford
  • No 16 Low Street
  • No 17 Thames Haven
  • No 77 Fobbing

The next major event to occur was in 1912 when the Midland Railway took over the line and from this point on the London Tilbury & Southend Railway ceased to exist. The next major change occurred in 1923 when the midland Railway was incorporated into the London Midland & Scottish Railway Company.

By about 1933 there was a need for a more powerful engines and in 1934 came 36 3-cylinder 2-6-4Ts Numbered 2500 - 2536, which replaced many older Tilbury Tanks.

The railway suffered badly during the Second World War, but it was a flying bomb which did most damage to the railway in 1944, when a V-2 scored a direct hit on to sidings near to Tilbury Riverside station, destroying over 140 Passenger Carriages, damaged two Gravesend ferries.

Immediately after the war the railway became very rundown due to lack of maintenance during the war and so in 1948, the four main railway companies were nationalised to form British Railways.

During this period there was still prosperous ocean liner traffic at Tilbury and there were regular boat trains from St Pancras station in London.

By the late 1950's it became increasingly apparent that electrification was a necessary step and so on November 6th 1961 the first electric train entered service and the last steam trains ran in June 1962.

The most recent change has been the privatisation of the railways in 1997, with the London to Southend line becoming LTS and later C2C and the introduction of brand new trains.


  • The London, Tilbury & Southend Railway by H.D Welch, Oakwood Press 1963
  • Down the Line to Southend by Muriel V Searle. Baton Press 1984
  • London Tilbury & Southend Album by George Dow Ian Allen 1980