Made in Preston, the website about Preston, Lancashire


Horwich Works

Photo from Google Maps, Jan 2011.


Some 15 miles south of Preston, the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Company manufactured locomotives at Horwich. The most famous being the Horwich 'Crab'.

In 1884 the L&YR purchased land for a new works and in 1889 the first engine was completed. In 1983 the works closed.

The L&YR merged under the name of the London & North Western Railway in 1922 just before the larger amalgamation that formed the London, Midland and Scottish Region in 1923.

Although the first Chief Engineer of the LMS was George Hughes of the L&YR his tenure was brief and in 1925 he retired and was replaced by Henry Fowler, ex-Midland Region. This gave Derby a prominence so that Horwich became less in stature particularly with Crewe being another power axis. The good old 'Crab' was doctored with Midland design features. Although the Midland was considered old fashioned and conservative and the Crab was an eclectic design, borrowing bits from around the globe.


The Horwich works is 142 hectares and has several long buildings visible from the Preston to Manchester railway line or the M61. The office building was completed on 19th February 1887.

The works are laid out as a series of long workshops separated by narrow spaces containing tram and rail tracks. The workshops are single storey with double-height interiors. The brick elevations are broken vertically by full-height arched windows set in recessed bays. The brickwork varies between red, brown and grey bricks, and Welsh slate was used for the roofs. The carriage sheds are clad in corrugated iron.


The first steam locomotive to be built at Horwich was a 2-4-2 tank engine (No. 1008). Work began in January 1888 and finished on 20th February 1889. The whole complex was in full operation by 1892 and the Horwich works became world famous for the quality of craftmanship it produced.

In 2011 Bolton Council want to use the land for a housing estate. A Facebook page 'save Horwich Works' has been set up:!/group.php?gid=304797222634


More about the Horwich Crab.

18-Feb-2016 Contact the site author