L&Y Locos At Work on BR


One year before the grouping of railways in 1923 the Lancashire & Yorkshire and London & North Western Railways amalgamated, forming the largest operating railway system in this country. It lasted only one year. After the formation of the LMSR a series of internal wranglings and power struggles, that would have pleased the most ardent admirer of Machiavelli, resulted in LNWR and L&Y motive power strategies becoming subordinate to that of the Midland company. The political ramifications of those early years of the LM S – despite having the former LYR chief mechanical engineer as the first head of that department under the new regime – were very Jong lasting indeed. While many hundreds of ancient and small Midland Railway designs survived the purges of the 1930s and 1940s, in common with the LNW R types, the locos of the Lancashire & Yorkshire taken over by BR in 1948 numbered only a few hundred.

1249 Ex LYR Pug 0-4-0St No. 51206

Ex LYR “Pug” 0-4-0St No. 51206 at Sandhill 30/05/1960. (c) Frank Dean

It is surprising how long lived many of these steam engines were, some even from before the turn of the 19th & 20th centuries, with working lives of 30 and 40 years or more.  Even some of the later designs under the ‘Big Four’ grouping of 1923, with their more effcient boilers and performance were withdrawn and scarpped perhaps too early in their working life.

The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway evolved to serve the industrial heartlands and teeming populations of Lancashire, and West Yorkshire in particular, incorporating along the way the world’s first passenger railway, the Liverpool & Manchester.  The core of the system that stretched from Liverpool to Manchester, Leeds and the east coast port city of Hull was the Manchjester & Leeds Railway.  The initial 51 miles ran from Manchester Victoria Station to Normanton, and a total length of 51 miles.  By 1847, the route included Wigan, Preston, Blackburn, Bolton, Burnley and numerous mill towns, reaching Todmorden, Rochdale, Wakefield and Normanton.

By 1922, and the merger with the giant LNWR, the Lanky had a total of 1,417 miles of main line, and 2,217 miles, with sidings included.  The company had also employed the undoubted talents of Barton-Wright, John (later Sir) Aspinall, Hoy, and Hughes as Locomotive Superintendents / Chief Mechanical Engineers.  It is a tribute to their skill, and indeed innovation, that many of their designs survived until nationalisation – indeed, one of the Barton-Wright types traced its design back to 1877, and almost 100 were handed over to BR in 1948.  (It is true that they were modified between 1897 and 1900 under Sir John Aspinall’s watch.)

Aspinall 3F 0-6-0_Carnforth 1979

Built in January 1896, Ex L&Y No. 1300 became LMS number 12322, and in July 1950 BR number 52322, and withdrawn in August 1960. She was at Nuneaton (2B) in 1950, Wigan (Springs Branch) in 1954. Seen here at Carnforth Steamtown in 1979. (c) Rodger Bradley

No fewer than 8 representatives of the L&Y are preserved – including 2 ‘Pug’ 0-4-0ST, the Horwich Works 2ft gauge shunter “Wren”, and the classic Aspinall 2-4-2T No. 1008 at the National Railway Museum.  One of Barton-Wright’s 0-6-0 goods engines from 1887, No. 957 was built by Beyer Peacock and was in use on the Keighley & Worth Valley a few years ago.

It is not the purpose of this piece to cover every detail, but rather to give a flavour for how many and how long these locomotives from the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway survived into theage of the diesel as well as nationalisation.


Click on the image below to read on ….

L&Y Booklet cover

Usful links:

Vanderbilt - NY Times header 1901

LYRS logo

Worth Valley logo

Further Reading …

“The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway in the 20th Century” – Eric Mason, published 1954 & 1961 – Ian Allan

“The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway – A Concise History” – O.S. Nock,  published 1969 – Ian Allan



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