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Additional Historical Background on the Lion

 

 

In 1927 C. W. Reed was visiting Prince's Dock in Liverpool.  For some reason he decided to enter the pump house and was "amazed to see in the gloom an ancient locomotive, jacked up on blocks, its driving wheels rattling merrily away.  The chain-pump resembled an endless rope ladder, moving around a pulley above ground and another at water level, the steps of the ladder being worn flat; its efficiency must have been almost nil."  Thanks to Reed's efforts, the engine, originally the Liverpool & Manchester Railway's Lion, was preserved and is one of the oldest working locomotives in the world.

The Lion began service in 1838 - only nine years after the success of Rocket at the Rainhill Trials had convinced the L&MR directors that they should use steam locomotives on their new railway rather than stationary engines with rope haulage.  The Lion was the first engine to be built by the firm of Todd, Kitson & Laird of Leeds, which later became known simply as Kitsons.  

Lion was an 0-4-2  a "goods” or freight locomotive.  Rocket, which had the 0-2-2 wheel arrangement, and the "Planet" type 2-2-2 engines which followed it, were "coaching" engines; that is, they were intended to haul passenger trains

In 1845 the Liverpool & Manchester Railway was absorbed by the Grand Junction Railway.  In the following year, it became part of the London & North Western Railway.  Lion continued in service under both companies.  About 1858 it ceased to be used for goods trains and probably became a "ballast" engine, used only for hauling track-maintenance trains.  In May 1859 it was sold to the Mersey Docks for  £ 400, along with some other old engines used to drive pumps.

Shortly after it was "discovered" some seventy years later, an electric pump replaced Lion.  In September 1928 it was taken out of the pump house.  Upon Reed’s discovering the Lion, he contacted The Liverpool Engineering Society.  They formed an "Old Locomotive Committee" to try to preserve the engine. Eventually in March 1929 the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board presented it to the society.  It was sent to the Crewe Works of the London, Midland & Scottish Railway, the successor to the London & North Western Railway, where it was overhauled, restored to its original condition and put back into working order.

In 1930 it took part in the first of many events as a working historic locomotive, hauling a train of replica carriages at the Liverpool & Manchester Railway centenary celebrations at Wavertree near Liverpool. It was then put on display at Lime Street station, Liverpool, where it stayed until the outbreak of the Second World War, when it returned to Crewe for safe keeping.

Another event in which Lion took part was the London & Birmingham centenary celebrations at Euston station, London, in 1938.  It ran to and from Camden engine shed, about a mile from Euston station, under its own steam, and on one occasion was driven by Colonel E. Kitson Clark, grandson of one of the founders of the firm that built it.  

 

 

The Lion was featured in the comedy classic, "The Titfield Thunderbolt."  Made in 1952 by the famous Ealing Studios, the film tells the story of how the Titfield villagers fight the closure of their local branch line by British Railways. The film was made on location on the Camerton branch line, an ex GWR railway which ran through the beautiful Cam Valley just south of Bath.  In Ealing's first feature film in Technicolor, "The Titfield Thunderbolt," the Lion's maroon and dark green livery was repainted nursery red and bright green.

 

a link to all you ever needed to know about the “Titfield Thunderbolt by Gordon Dudman

 

 

A Card Model of the Lion by Ray Morris

 

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