The locomotive history of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway grew out of two independent traditions; The Manchester & Leeds Railway and its acquisitions (becoming the LYR in 1847), which had its locomotive works at Miles Platting in Manchester, and the East Lancashire Railway which did not become part of the LYR until 1859. The ELR had its own works at Bury which continued in operation after the merger, retaining many of its own practices and methods. The 1860s and early 1870s was also a period when investment in new stock took second place place to shareholder dividend.

All this changed with a new Chairman from 1873 onwards and with the appointment of William Barton Wright as Locomotive Superintendent in 1875 a start was made in developing a standardised fleet of locomotives. Because of the limited facilities at both Miles Platting and Bury most of Barton Wright’s locomotives came from outside builders but in the mid-1880s work began on a new state of the art works on a green field site at Horwich near Bolton.

The opening of the works in 1886 coincided with Barton Wright’s departure and the arrival of John Aspinall in the newly created role of Chief Mechanical Engineer. He set about designing a new range of standard locomotives which would be built in-house at Horwich. Over the next dozen years a whole series of outstanding locomotives was produced including the emblematic 2-4-2T (of which 330 were eventually built), the ‘A’ class 0-6-0 (490 built), the 0-8-0 coal engine (295 built), the ‘Flyer’ 4-4-0 (40 built) and the famous Atlantic ‘Highflyer’ 4-4-2 of which 40 were built.

During this period Horwich was recognised as the most modern and progressive locomotive works in the country and under Aspinall’s leadership it became a magnet for talented young engineers including future CME’s George Hughes (LYR, LNWR & LMS), Henry Fowler (MR & LMS), Richard Maunsell (SE&CR & SR) and Nigel Gresley (GNR & LNER) – all did at least part of their training and held responsible positions with the LYR before moving on. In later years they became known as Aspinall’s ‘Old Boys’.

In 1899 Aspinall became the LYR’s General Manager and was replaced as CME by Henry Hoy who had been Horwich Works Manager. Hoy remained in post only until 1904 when he left to become Works Manager of the locomotive building firm of Beyer, Peacock & Co. During his time as CME he introduced only one new class of locomotive but he was heavily involved in the design and building of the electric stock for the Liverpool-Southport electrification which became operational in 1904.

Hoy was replaced by George Hughes, another internal appointment, whose tenure extended beyond the independent existence of the LYR, into the 1922 merger with the LNWR and the 1923 formation of the LMS, from which he retired in 1926.

His locomotives included the ‘Dreadnought’ 4-6-0 express engines, an 0-8-2T design for banking duties, and the useful railmotors for branch line work. Much of his effort went into developing more powerful versions of Aspinall designs using Belpaire fireboxes and superheating.

By 1921 the LYR had an operational fleet of more than 1600 locomotives and details of the major classes can be found below.

Pre-1875 Locomotives

YATES 2-4-0 Tank
No. Built: 20 Build dates: 1868-1874
Usage: Passenger work
Notes: Built as Well Tanks & Converted to Saddle Tanks from c.1876.

YATES 0-6-0 Saddle Tank
No. Built: 39 Build dates: 1868-1875
Usage: Goods & Shunting work
Notes: An earlier Jenkins design with Yates cab & fittings.

No. Built: 120 + 30 for East Lancs Division Build dates: 1855-1870
Usage: Goods work
Notes: Built with weatherboard, full cab added later. Many younger locos rebuilt as tank engines

Yates 0-6-0 Saddle Tank
No. Built: 23 Build dates: 1872-1878
Usage: Goods work and shunting
Notes: 20 built in Barton Wright’s time with domed boilers

GNR type 0-4-2
No. Built: 8 Build dates: 1876
Usage: Passenger work
Notes: Stirling GNR mixed traffic design, emergency purchase from Sharp Stewart

Barton Wright Locomotives

No. Built: 280 Build dates: 1876-1887
Usage: Goods work
Notes: 230 rebuilt as saddle tanks, tenders re-used

No. Built: 64 Build dates: 1880-1883
Usage: Goods, passenger, pilot duties
Notes: 10 had 4ft 6in wheels, rest had 5ft 1in

No. Built: 70 Build dates: 1878-1879 (30), 1885-1886 (40)
Usage: Local passenger work
Notes: Withdrawn after 25 years as the Aspinall 2-4-2Ts were multiplied

No. Built: 110 Build dates: 1870-1887
Usage: Express passenger work
Notes: The most powerful loco on the L&Y until the early 1890s

Aspinall Locomotives

ASPINALL 4-4-0 with 6ft 0in driving wheels
No. Built: 30 Build dates: 1888-1889
Usage: Passenger work
Notes: Built by Beyer, Peacock

ASPINALL 0-4-0 Saddle Tank (Pug)
No. Built: 57 Build dates: 1891-1910
Usage: Shunting – especially in docks
Notes: Fitted with wooden dumb buffers

ASPINALL 0-6-0 Saddle Tank
No. Rebuilt: 230 Rebuild dates: 1891-1900
Usage: Standard shunting engine
Notes: Rebuilt from Barton Wright 0-6-0s

ASPINALL 0-6-0 Tank (Rapid Shunter)
No. Built: 20 Build dates: 1897
Usage: Shunting
Notes: Found not to be an improvement over 0-6-0STs above

ASPINALL 2-4-2 radial tank
No. Built: 330 Build dates: 1889-1911
Usage: Passenger work
Notes: Hughes variants had Belpaire firebox

No. Built: 490 Build dates: 1889-1917
Usage: Goods and excursion passenger duties
Notes: Developed by Hughes with Belpaire firebox

ASPINALL 4-4-2 with 7ft 3in driving wheels (Atlantic)
No. Built: 40 Build dates: 1899-1902
Usage: Express passenger work
Notes: The iconic express engine of the L&Y

ASPINALL 0-8-0 Coal engines
No. Built: 140 Build dates: 1900-1908
Usage: Coal trains and heavy goods work
Notes: Some rebuilt later with larger boilers

Hoy Locomotives

HOY 2-6-2 Tank
No. Built: 20 Build dates: 1904
Usage: Passenger work until 1911 then shunting duties
Notes: Centre flanges and coal rails removed from 1911

Hughes Locomotives

HUGHES 0-8-2 Tank
No. Built: 5 Build dates: 1908
Usage: Shunting and banking duties
Notes: Both centre axles had wide treads & no flanges

HUGHES 0-4-0T railmotor No. Built: 18 Build dates: 1906-1911
Usage: Local passenger
Notes: Trailer cars numbered in a separate series.
Additional trailer could be attached to increase capacity

HUGHES 0-8-0
No. Built: 145 Build dates: 1910-1921
Usage: Coal trains and heavy goods work
Notes: 105 rebuilt with superheaters

HUGHES 4-6-0
No. Built: 20 Build dates: 1908-1909
Usage: Express passenger work
Notes: Not as successful as expected and 15 were rebuilt from 1920 – see below

HUGHES 4-6-0
No. Rebuilt: 15 Rebuild dates: 1920-1921 No. Built new: 35 Build dates 1921-1923
Usage: Express passenger work
Notes: Featured superheaters and Walschaerts valve gear

Locomotive Liveries
From the mid-1880s all LYR locomotives were painted black. Buffer beams were red, usually with a white edging to the sides and bottom. Buffer shanks and mounting flanges were black.

Passenger engines were lined with one thick red and two thin white lines as illustrated. This style was used for the rest of the L&Y’s independent existence.

Goods engines generally had one thick and one thin red line but there were exceptions. Around the end of the 19th century all Aspinall 0‑6‑0 tender engines were given passenger lining, and so, from the early 20th century, were the 0‑6‑0T Rapid Shunters. The 0-8-2T Banking Engines were built new in 1908 with passenger lining as were most 0‑8‑0 tender engines built new or re-boilered with large diameter boilers from 1910 to the start of the Great War.

A tan gartered crest had been introduced in earlier times when some engines were green and continued in use on black engines until about 1900. It was replaced by a blue gartered version to coincide with the introduction of the company name using blue shaded lettering. The blue crest was then used on all locomotives except the 0‑4‑0STs and 0-6-0STs which had the red lining but never carried a crest.

With the exception of a monogram used on some tender engines no company lettering appeared on locomotives until the late 1890s when ‘L & Y’ appeared on some tenders. The full company name was used from the early 20th century; in a straight line on tenders and, for a few years, in an arc around the number plate on tank sides. This soon gave way to the straight line arrangement seen in most photographs.

Panel showing early tan gartered crest and later blue gartered version along with an example of passenger engine lining and blue shaded lettering.

0-6-2T No.223 with tan gartered crest and passenger lining circa 1886-1899.

Notes & Further Reading

The main constituent of the L&YR (which was incorporated in 1847) was the Manchester & Leeds Railway which built its works at Miles Platting, Manchester, although its first proper Locomotive Superintendent, Jenkins, came from another constituent, the Manchester & Bolton Railway.

The East Lancashire Railway had its works at Bury and did not become part of the L&YR until 1859. Bury works retained many of its traditions and practices until the mid-1870s.

The first truly all-line Locomotive Superintendent was William Barton Wright who under the guidance of L&YR Director, John Ramsbottom, supervised the building of Horwich works near Bolton. The mid-1870s saw a new progressive management of the L&YR as a whole and the start of a transformation of the locomotive fleet.

In the references below the holder of the title Indoor Superintendent was responsible for the management of the works and the Outdoor Superintendent for the operation of the locomotives and their crews.

The main characters involved were:

William Jenkins
Locomotive Superintendent, 1845-1867 (started at Manchester & Bolton Railway in 1835). Based at Miles Platting works

William Yates
Works Manager, Miles Platting works 1839-1867. Indoor Superintendent, Miles Platting Works 1867-1878

William Hurst (no photo)
Outdoor Superintendent, c.1867-c.1878 (started at M&B in 1845. Worked for NBR c.1854-c.1867)

G Roberts
Works Manager, Bury Works (ELR until 1859 then L&YR) 1850-1888.

William Barton Wright
Locomotive Superintendent, 1875-1886

John AF Aspinall
Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME), 1886-1899
(LYR General Manager 1899-1918)

Henry A Hoy
CME, 1899-1904

George Hughes
CME, 1904 -1921
LNWR/LYR merged company, CME, 1922
LMS, CME, 1923-1925

Further Reading
The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway in the Twentieth Century by Eric Mason.
Published in 1954 by Ian Allan Ltd

My Life with Locomotives by Rivington (Eric Mason)
Published in 1962 by Ian Allan Ltd

Locomotive Panorama Volume 1
by ES Cox
Published in 1965 by Ian Allan Ltd

British Locomotive Catalogue 1825-1923 Volume 3B Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway and its Constituentsby Bertram Baxter.
Published in 1982 by
Moorland Publishing Company

Horwich Locomotive Works
by MD Smith
Published in 1996 by Wyre Publishing

Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Locomotives by Barry C Lane.
Published in 2010 by Pendragon

All the above are out of print but second hand copies can be obtained from specialist book sellers.

In the Virtual Museum you will find pdf facsimiles of Papers read to Institutions and Patent documents taken out by LYR engineers.