Like all railways, the L&Y relied upon local collection and delivery of goods for much of its traffic. In some areas this was handled by agents, in others by the Company itself but it required a huge quantity of men and animals to move the various barrows, carts and lurries which was how the majority of the public came into contact with the Railway. From the mid-1890s the L&Y began standardising its varied fleet and instigated a large building programme of ten horse drawn types varying from 1½ to 6½ tons payload with the commonest the 4 ton type. Building all but ceased when the Great War started and changes began to take place.
Once the reliability of early petrol lorries was proved, the L&Y set about reorganising its fleet. Initial costs were high but petrol was proving easier and cheaper than feeding, grooming and replacing horses. The economies of motor lorry use were substantiated further by the extra journeys possible each day.
Thus, in the 6 years 1916-22, over 300 motors were purchased, the lurry fleet was reduced to just under 3000 but the number of horses dropped by a staggering 800 to 1220 (about 100 of which were used for shunting).
Horse Drawn Lurries
The L&Y began experimenting with both petrol and battery electric vehicles well before the Great War. During the war part of Newton Heath Carriage & Wagon Works was turned over to the production of ‘lurries’ for the Government. Leyland Motors supplied engines and other drive train components and the L&Y made the rest.
After the war large numbers of lurries were sold off by the Goverment and created the road haulage industry.