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.











Document_1909_Hughes_Paper _To_IME




Document_1921_Passenger_ Tonnage_Loadings

Document_1924 LMS_Renumbering_Of_Loco_Stock



















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 Constituents by 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 often be obtained from specialist book sellers.

Go to the Books section of the Shop for details of how to obtain a copy.

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