This series consists of plans deposited with applications made under the Light Railways Acts 1896 and 1912, and the Railways Act 1921.
A large proportion of the plans are sealed copies to Orders confirmed or made by the Board of Trade and Ministry of Transport in accordance with the Acts. The remainder relate to applications which were either rejected by the Commissioners or withdrawn by the promoters and these are thought to be the Commissioners' own copies.
Many of the latter applications will be found to contain a draft order, a book of reference, copy of newspaper advertisements and estimates of the cost of construction of the proposed line. The sealed copies in general only contain a copy of the approved plans(s) and a book of reference.
The plans have been listed as originally registered by the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Transport. With a few exceptions, the list is in alphabetical order within each deposit period, Wales, and Scotland being listed separately in later years. The date shown in the list is that printed on the plan.
Hearings of objections to proposals for light railways are in
The Light Railways Act of 1896 enabled local railway lines to be authorised and constructed at less cost than was then possible under Private Bill legislation. At the turn of the century electricity and steam power led to a great extension of the tramway system and it quickly became apparent to promoters of tramway schemes that in many cases it would be easier and less expensive to obtain an order under the Light Railways Act 1896 rather than the Tramways Act 1870. Thus, many of the earlier applications under the Light Railways Act related to tramways.
The Act of 1896 established a body of three commissioners to consider and mature proposals for the construction of Light Railways. They were styled by the Light Railway Commissioners and held office from the passing of the Act in 1896 until the 19th February 1922 when the Commission was abolished. After this date applications were considered and Orders made by the Ministry of Transport, which in 1919 had taken over responsibility for railways from the Board of Trade.
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