Fascinating exhibition at Horwich Heritage Centre for fans of locos
June 29th, 2017|
HORWICH Heritage will be hosting an unusual open day on Saturday July 16.
The event, at the Heritage Centre in Beaumont Road, will focus on the forgotten diesel shunting locos that were built in Horwich between April 1958 and December 1962.
Horwich is well known for being at the forefront of the locomotive building industry. In addition to producing more than 600 steam locos the works also produced two early battery electric shunting locos as early as 1912 and 1915, explains Horwich Heritage member Andrew Waldron, whose expertise has created this fascinating exhibition.
The works later became, he says, the first in the Bolton area to use the what was thought of as “new fangled” petrol locos developed during World War One.
“The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway works had no fewer than three of these unusual locomotives,” he adds.
Horwich had a claim to fame that no other railways works in Britain could match.
“Its first loco built survives as does its last. Our first loco was the 2-4-2 Tank loco, designed by A F Aspinal and numbered 1008. The latter is, today, preserved at the National Railway Museum in York.
“Horwich provided its last steam loco in 1957 and that might have been the end of the locomotive building side had it not been for a decision which changed the life of not only the works but kept most of the work force employed for another five years on locomotive construction,” he adds.
In 1957 the writing was, apparently, on the wall for the steam locomotive.
“British Railways had, in 1948 upon nationalisation of the big Four railways, stated a rationalisation programme to oust the steam shunting locomotive and introduce a new fleet of diesel locomotives.
“By 1958 the programme of introducing diesels to replace steam was running somewhat behind the planned schedule and, to save face, Horwich Works had its fortunes overturned to help complete the programme of diesel loco construction.”
The works really rose to the occasion turning out 169 locos in just four years which was a remarkable achievement.
The very last loco built under British Railways was turned out on Christmas Eve in 1962.
Today some 54 of the locos that were built at Horwich are still out there earning their keep.
Some serve the likes of heritage railways up and down the country, the National Railway Museum, for instance, at York uses two Horwich built examples for moving the exhibits around and “known as the Horwich Pals in the main the greater majority of the Horwich “survivors” are to be found out there keeping the wheels and cogs of British industry moving,” he explains.
The open day exhibition aims to showcase the development of the 0-6-0 diesel electric shunting loco from the first one built in 1934 to the last one which was turned out from Horwich Works in 1962 and survives and is in daily use more than 50 years later.
A display of words, models in all shapes and sizes and photographs, many never seen in the public domain before, trace the history of the internal combustion engine rail vehicle from a 1906 built mail car running in rural Ireland where it all began to the industrial North West of England.
There is also a comprehensive history of the 169 locos built at Horwich and tracing their history to the present day, along with two model railways and various other items of memorabilia.
Visitors to this fascinating exhibition (which is a must for loco fans of all ages) will be able to watch two excellent films on the development of the diesel shunter and one of these even has archive footage of the locos being built at Horwich.
There will be various side stalls including one by the Southport Model Engineers’ Society and the Wigan Model Engineers’ Society both of which will be putting on smaller displays along with a home made chutney and pickles stall.
The event will be officially opened by the new Horwich Town Mayor Councillor Jim Bullock.
The Horwich Loco Works holds fond memories for many Bolton folk.
Perhaps you worked there or family members worked there.
In Horwich the Works provided not only a place of employment for so many families but also an additional “family” — a sense of belonging that only those involved could understand.
Social events were organised, social clubs filled with colleagues.
Its demise was of great sadness to so many.
Do you have memories of the Loco Works or locos in Horwich?
They could be diesel locos as we are talking about here or even steam locos?
We know that there are plenty of loco enthusiasts out there who can help us find out more about the history of transport in Bolton and surrounding districts.
Get in touch with Gayle McBain on 01204 537269 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and share your fascinating memories that are sure to give plenty of our readers a blast from the past.
The event at Horwich Heritage Centre runs from 10am to 1pm on Saturday July 16.