topic ref. 70903790
1. Railway company Great Western Railway (1835-1949).
2. FirstGroup franchise Great Western Railway from September 2015.
The original company of this name was incorporated 31 August 1835 with powers to construct a railway between London and Bristol, and the first section of line opened 4 June 1838 between London and Maidenhead.
The route was then completed in stages, and through traffic began to run after the final section of the original main line had been opened between Chippenham and Bath on 30 June 1841.
The GWR continued to expand, in many cases by acquiring other companies in its region, and by 1859 the opening of the Royal Albert Bridge over the River Tamar had completed a through route between London and Penzance.
The GWR was distinguished by its exceptional use of broad gauge (2140mm) in Britain, although its system had been converted to standard gauge by 1892.
Reorganisation of the railways after the First World War ‘grouped’ nearly all the existing railway companies into four organisations. Three of these were new but the Great Western continued to exist although it was amalgamated with some other companies, particularly in south Wales, as its contribution to the grouping authorised by the Railways Act 1921. The provisions of this Act were applied from 1 January 1923.
The assets of the GWR were compulsorily acquired by the state under the Transport Act 1947, which came into force 1 January 1948. The company was wound up on 23 December 1949 after the Final General Meeting had been held in March 1948.
The present day rail passenger franchise of the same name, owned by FirstGroup plc, began on 20 September 2015 and is due to continue until at least 2019.