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.
Below are original documents and drawings relating to the locomotive fleet. Click on a link to open a pdf copy. See also the Locomotive page under The Railway.
Notes & Further Reading
Locomotive Superintendent, 1875-1886