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
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.