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British Industrial History

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Todd, Kitson and Laird: Lion

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1. Photograph taken in Liverpool c.1928[1]. The trailing axle had been removed when on pumping duty, along with the outboard horn brackets
2. 1838. Lion. Exhibit at the Museum of Liverpool.
3. 1838. Lion. Exhibit at the Museum of Liverpool.
4. 1838. Lion. Exhibit at the Museum of Liverpool.
5. 1838. Lion. Exhibit at the Museum of Liverpool.

1838 Todd, Kitson and Laird built the Lion which was an early engine for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway

1841 Extensively modified with a new boiler and new cylinders with 3" larger bore and 2" shorter stroke (which necessitated fitting a new crank axle).

1845-6 Absorbed into the Grand Junction Railway.

1846-59 Absorbed into the London and North Western Railway

1857 The engine was withdrawn

1859 Bought by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board.

c.1873 Adapted to drive a chain pump at the Prince's Graving Dock (Liverpool). While there, it was fitted with a new boiler, having a round-topped firebox, in the 1880s or 1890s. The trailing wheels, connecting rods and rear outer cranks were removed. See c.1928 photo.

1928 Lion's pumping duty was taken over by electric pumps, and it was donated to the Liverpool Engineering Society who, with the assistance of J. G. H. Warren, arranged for it to be restored by the LMS at Crewe. To imitate its 1840s appearance, the firebox was encased in brass. An old ex-Furness Railway tender was acquired, and Lion was steamed for the 1930 L&MR centenary celebrations, after which it was displayed at Liverpool Lime Street Station. It was removed to Crewe for safe keeping in 1941, where it remained until 1967, when it was returned to Liverpool.

1980 Restored to operating condition at the Vulcan Works of Ruston Diesels.

2007 Put on display at the Museum of Liverpool.

The above information is condensed from 'Loco Motion - The World's Oldest Steam Locomotives' by Michael R. Bailey[2]

In 1953 Lion starred in the film 'Titfield Thunderbolt', operating in steam.

Technical Details

From an engineering point of view, some of the most interesting aspects of these early locomotives are to be found underneath. Unfortunately the underpinnings cannot be readily accessed in the Museum of Liverpool, but one of the photographs here has managed to capture some features of interest.

Early locomotives with inside cylinders were prone to fatigue failure of the crank axles. With the aim of minimising the amount of axle flexing, and avoiding the risk of disaster, it became the practice to augment the outboard axleboxes and their side frames by inner bearings and frames, thereby providing continuing support for the wheels in the event of a fracture at the crank. Like many aspects of early locomotive construction, the side frames tended to be masterpieces of the blacksmith's art. Photo 6 shows the rear horn area of the RH inner frame, and also the attachment of the frame extension using fitted bolts. Note that the inner axleboxes are provided with leaf springs. Obviously needed, but not very apparent from outside. The inner springs are much smaller than the main springs.

Wheels: Early locomotive wheels often provided remarkable examples of the blacksmith's skill, having forged spokes, hubs and rims all fire-welded together. Clearly Lion's spokes are forged, and probably the rims too, but the front wheels' hubs appear to be cast around the spokes, and reinforced by shrunk-on rims. The rear wheels appear to be fully forged. M. R. Bailey also noted that the front and rear wheels have differing numbers of spokes (16 and 18), and that they were made by Rothwell and Co of Bolton.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Trans. Liverpool Engineering Society, Vol L, 1929: 'Locomotion - Coal to Oil, 1838-1928' by lt. Col. E. Kitson Clark
  2. 'Loco Motion - The World's Oldest Steam Locomotives' by Michael R. Bailey, The History Press, 2014