Horwich Locomotive Works, LYR
off Chorley New Road, Horwich, Greater Manchester, UK
William Barton Wright
John Audley Frederick Aspinall
January 1885 - 1892
Factory/Industrial Plant |
ICE reference number
photo Paul Dunkerley / ICE R&D Fund
By the M60, south of Horwich is the complex constructed by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway for the building and maintenance of locomotives. The company had relocated from a constricted site at Miles Platting in Manchester in order to increase production. The new factory became the largest employer in Horwich, and retains much of its original elements today.
The Horwich works is located on land purchased in April 1884 — 142 hectares for £36,000. In order acommodate the development, the course of the planned Thirlmere Aqueduct had to be diverted at a cost of £4,600 to the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway.
The complex consists of a number of major buildings. The office building, now called Rivington House, was completed first and opened on 19th February 1887. It is 106.7m long by 16.8m wide.
The works are laid out as a series of long workshops separated by narrow spaces containing tram and rail tracks. The workshops are single storey with double-height interiors. The brick elevations are broken vertically by full-height arched windows set in recessed bays. The brickwork varies between red, brown and grey bricks, and Welsh slate was used for the roofs. The carriage sheds are clad in corrugated iron.
The largest building is the three-bay erecting shop, which can accommodate 90 locomotives. Work to construct it began in March 1885 and included the removal of 457,000 tonnes of earth. Six locomotives were taken in for repairs on 15th November 1886 and the facility opened fully on 12th April 1887. The erecting shop is 463.3m long by 36m wide and has a clear space of 30.5m all around. It was accessed at the ends by two 9.75m wide traversers part way along its length. Inside there were 20 overhead cranes, each of 30 tonnes.
For rail access to the site, a branch line was constructed between September 1886 and 1st July 1887. It ran from north west of Blackrod Station, through the works complex and on towards the north east, under Chorley New Road to the site of the former Horwich terminus. From April 1887 onwards, a 457mm gauge railway moved materials around the works using two Beyer Peacock engines.
The first steam locomotive to be built at Horwich was a 2-4-2 tank engine (No. 1008). Work began in January 1888 and finished on 20th February 1889. The whole complex was in full operation by 1892 and the Horwich works became world famous for the quality of craftmanship it produced.
The dates for the associated engineers are as follows: John Ramsbottom (1884), William Hunt (1885), William Wright (1884 - June 1886), John Aspinall (June 1886 onwards).
The LYR sold 81 hectares of its original site to provide housing for its workers. In September 1885, a number of new streets were laid out and named after prominent engineers. The Railway Mechanics’ Institute at Horwich opened on 15th December 1888. It was extended 1892-5 but has been replaced by a modern building.
Locomotive repair ceased at Horwich in May 1964, and the site was then used for train carriage repairs. The branch line to Horwich Station closed on 30th January 1967. The erecting shop was cut in two in 1981 in order to construct a new traverser but despite this investment the works closed in 1983. The foundry was still working up to 2004. The boiler house burned down. The remaining buildings now form part of Horwich Business Park.
In February 2006, the site was designated Horwich Locomotive Works Conservation Area. It also includes two significant buildings outside the original works — the dining room on Gooch Street (later the Lancashire & Yorkshire Arms) and the former cottage hospital on Brunel Street.
Contractor (erecting shop foundations and earth moving): J.D. Nowell
Contractor (erecting shop superstructure and concrete floors): T.W. Meadows
Ironwork (erecting shop): Pearson & Knowles Coal & Iron Co
Traversers (erecting shop): Collier & Co
Overhead cranes (erecting shop): Hetherington & Co
Hydraulic machinery supply: R.H. Tweddell
Contractor (general): Robert Neill & Sons
Contractor (carriage sheds): A. & I. Main & Co
Contractor (offices): Thomas Riley
Access railway branch line: M.W. Walmesley & Co
Horwich Heritage information leaflet, undated
"Horwich Locomotive Works, Horwich, Bolton: Conservation Area Management Plan", Bolton Council, Bolton, December 2007
"Railway History in Pictures: The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway"
by J. Marshall, David & Charles, Newton Abbot, 1977
"The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway” by J. Marshall
Vol.2, David & Charles, Newton Abbot, 1970
"The Horwich Locomotive Works of the Yorkshire and Lancashire Railway, 1897"
by J.A.F. Aspinall, ICE Proceedings, Vol. CXXIX, 1896-97, Paper No.3009