The Lion Locomotive

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Lion Rescued

An extract from the Railway World June 1953 Edition written by Charles W. REED
who found and organised the rescue of Lion from The Liverpool Docks

Resurrection of the old Lion

by Charles W. REED

Readers will probably have noted from the popular periodicals that an old locomotive, 115 years of age, is taking the star role in the film ' The Titfield Thunderbolt.' A short history of this locomotive may, therefore, be of interest.

The author is proud to have "discovered" this engine and been mainly instrumental in saving it from the scrap heap; when early in 1928, it was observed to be driving an antiquated chain-pump used for draining the Prince's Graving Dock, Liverpool.  It was seen to be a very early type of locomotive, fixed on trestles, with the cylinders working the driving wheels (acting as flywheels) geared to the pumps, with a cast iron driving shaft. The locomotive was in a partially stripped condition with no name plate, the trailing wheels and coupling rods having been removed. It was an 0-4-2 type, with outside compound frames made of two iron plates with a wooden centre piece. The outside cylinders of 11-in. diameter by 20-in. stroke, with gab rod valve motion operated flat slide valves on top of the cylinders. It has a "Hakcock" fire box and a Trevithick regulator. The driving wheels are 5-ft. diameter, and trailing wheels 3 ft. 7 in. diameter. Total wheelbase 12 ft. 8 in. The boiler is 8 ft. 6 in. long and 3 ft. 9 in. inside diameter with 97 tubes.

The maker's name was found and after some research the engine was indentified as the original locomotive Lion, Number 57 on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company, and manufactured by Tod Kitson and Laird of Leeds in 1838. It later became No. 116 on the L.N.W. Railway List, and was sold to the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board in May, 1859, together with two or three similar locomotives and used for driving pumps at the drydocks, first at Langton Dock and later at Prince's Dock until 1928.

Steam was supplied by its own boiler until the last few years when to save retubing, an adjacent donkey boiler was connected to the cylinders, by means of the piping shown in Plate A, which also shows the loco-motive in position on trestles in the pump house. Plate B gives a view of the fire box end at the same time. The pump itself was very primitive, consisting of flat boards spaced by chains, running over pulleys, like an endless rope ladder, and drawing the water up a narrow vertical chall. As the boards were flat and the lift considerable only a few drops of water remained on the board by the time it reached the top outlet, and the efficiency must have been very low indeed.

Upon the request for permission to photograph this engine, the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board investigated the pump and hurriedly decided to scrap the outfit and install an electrically driven centrifugal pump. On 17th September, 1928, the engine was withdrawn from service and moved outside prior to being sold for scrap Plate C. The author enlisted the aid of the Liverpool Engineering Society with a view to saving it from the scrap heap and they finally purchased the locomotive.

please click on images for fullsize picture

Plate A

Plate B

   Plate C

 All copyrights acknowledged and held by the original owners.
Items are reproduced here to try and give the overall story of the Lion Locomotive.
Any items will be removed if objected to by the copyright holders or acknowledgements added.