Lion  0-4-2  Liverpool & Manchester Railway

lion

Power Classification
Introduced1838
Designer
CompanyLiverpool & Manchester Railway
Weight26t 11cwt (current engine and tender weight)
Driving Wheels5ft 0ins
Boiler Pressure50psi
CylindersInside – 12in x 18in (now 14in x 18in)
Tractive Effort2,160lbf
Valve GearGab type (slide valve)

Lion was an early Liverpool & Manchester Railway (LMR) locomotive which was built by Todd, Kidson & Laird in 1838 and entered service as L&MR 57. It was one of two engines built in 1838 to haul freight on the line – the other was 58 Tiger. Todd, Kitson & Laird built another two 0-4-2 locomotives for the LMR in 1939 (Elephant and Buffalo). They could haul 200 tons and were capable of a top speed of 45 mph.

It was initially used to provide aid to other engines climbing the Whiston and Sutton inclines which took the railway up to the summit at Rainhill. Lion was capable of hauling 75 tons up the 1 in 96 Whiston incline unaided. The delivery of more powerful locomotives in 1839 meant that Lion was then deployed hauling “luggage trains” for the next twenty years.

The LMR was absorbed by the Grand Junction Railway in 1845 which subsequently became part of the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) a year later when it was renumbered 116.

Lion was given a new boiler in 1845.

It was withdrawn from service in 1859 when it was purchased by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board for a price of £400. It was used as a stationary pumping engine since 1871 at the Graving Dock, Princes Dock on the River Mersey.

It was not until 1923 that any interest was taken in the old engine. In 1928 it was presented to the Liverpool Engineering Society, whose property it remains, in order that it might be preserved for the city of Liverpool.

After restoration at the Crewe railway works it took part in the centenary celebrations of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1930, pulling a replica train. The restoration at Crewe was made possible due to the intervention of Sir Henry Fowler who said that the LMS would forgo the usual overhead costs of undertaking the work.

Lion took part in the LMR centenary celebrations in 1930 and the London and Birmingham Railway centenary in 1938

It has since steamed again on a number of occasions and was used in the filming in 1953 of The Titfield Thunderbolt. During the filming of ‘Thunderbolt’ the tender was damaged in a shunting accident, the damage still being visible. It was also used for the films Victoria the Great of 1937 and The Lady with the Lamp in 1951.

In 1979 Lion was again restored to working order in time to lead the cavalcade on the first day of the Rocket 150 celebrations at Rainhill. The restoration work this time was undertaken at the works of Rushton Diesels.

It was also in steam in 1987 for celebrations at Crewe. HRH the Prince of Wales rode on its footplate in the course of the Royal visit to Tyseley which took place during the last period LION was steamed in 1988 – its 150th birthday year.

In 1980 Lion was again restored to working order in time to lead the cavalcade on the first day of the Rocket 150 celebrations at Rainhill. It was also in steam in 1987 for celebrations at Crewe. HRH the Prince of Wales rode on its footplate in the course of the Royal visit to Tyseley which took place during the last period LION was steamed in 1988 – its 150th birthday year.

Before the last war Lion was kept on a plinth at Lime Street Station, Liverpool but latterly, having been passed to National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside, following the demise of the Liverpool Engineering Society, it was displayed in the Transport Gallery of Liverpool Museum. Following that museum’s successful lottery bid, however, it was displayed at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester from mid June 1999 until early 2007. It then returned to store in Liverpool. Lion has now been restored to display condition and is currently installed in the new Museum of Liverpool’s Great Port gallery, opened in December 2011. It is coupled to an early Furness Railway tender as its own tender was scrapped many years ago.

In early 2019 railway historian Anthony Dawson cast doubt on the identity of the locomotive and raising questions over its authenticity and suggesting it could be another locomotive.

Anthony Dawson states-

There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the locomotive found in a pump house in Liverpool Docks in 1923 was lion. The engine , then in the ownership of the London & North Western Railway, was one of three locomotives bought by the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board in 1859 – in addition to two from the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway – and it has been assumed for nearly a century that Lion was immediately put to work in the pump house at Prince’s Dock. However, the dock – and the pump house – didn’t come into use until 1875, so its impossible that Lion was purchased to work the pump at Prince’s Dock.

Oral history says it possibly was Lion which ended up in the pump house, but there is stilla matter of boubt as to the actual identity of the engine found in 1923. The earliest piece of evidence to suggest it was Lion in the pump house is in January that year. When the engine is identified as Lion and having been acquired from the LNWR, so there is reasonable doubt as to the identity of the locomotive. It had no nameplates or maker’s plates, and there’s no paper trail.”

In response the Old Locomotive Committee Chairman said that there was a need to look into the matter.   

Home BaseCurrent StatusOwner
Museum of LiverpoolStatic displayMuseum of Liverpool

In 2018 it was proposed that the team who made the replica of Robert Stephenson’s Planet would build a Lion replica by 2030. The locomotive would carry the name Tiger.

The group are also considering building a copy Stephenson’s 0-2-2 Northumrian which hauled the inaugural Liverpool & Manchester train in September 1830.

Lion sets off for Bold Colliery before taking part in the Liverpool & Manchester Railway 150 celebrations – May 1980
Lion at Keighley on the KWVR - October 1981.jpg
Lion at Keighley on the KWVR – October 1981
Lion in the Museum of Liverpool Life – December 2013
Lion.jpg

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