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Lion locomotive 1838

History locomotives

Lion locomotive 1838
was for many years the oldest surviving working locomotive in the world and has been made even more famous by its role in that greatly-loved film The Titfield Thunderbolt. Built by Todd, Kitson and Laird in 1838 for the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, it served that pioneering line faithfully until withdrawal in 1859, after which it was purchased by the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board for use as a stationary boiler.

Lion locomotive 1838

Lion locomotive 1838
Introduced  1838
Designer  Todd, Kitson and Laird

Driving wheel diameter  5 ft  0 in
Boiler pressure  50psi
Cylinders (2 inside)  14  x  24 in

Weight  14,5  tons

Withdrawn 1859
Preserved  Liverpool Museum

In that humble capacity, it toiled for many decades, forgotten by the railway world at large, and by the time it became due for renewal in 1928, it had by default graduated into a machine of enormous historical importance. Fortunately, it was spotted by the Liverpool Engineering Society before the scrapmen could get their hands on it and was restored with assistance from the London Midland & Scottish Railway. With its huge haystack firebox once again polished to perfection, it appeared in the L&MR centenary celebrations in 1930. But it was as a film star that this veteran 0-4-2 was to gain its greatest fame. It appeared in three movies, the most famous of which was The Titfield Thunderbolt (1952), a hilarious tale of branch line preservation in which it played the title role.

After spending time in storage at Crewe and Rugby, the loco was put on display in Liverpool Museum in 1967 and, 13 years later, made a long-awaited comeback when it took parr in the Rainhill anniversary celebrations, running under its own steam at the ripe old age of 142! Sadly, Lion has roared for the last time, for modern safety regulations stipulate substantial modifications that would ruin its historical integrity and it has therefore been decided to conserve it. It is currently stored pending display in the new Museum of Liverpool, which is due to open in 2010.
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