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Horwich Loco Works Main Site - May 2010
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Default Horwich Loco Works Main Site - May 2010 - 18-08-2010, 12:13

Horwich Loco Works is somewhere I’ve been meaning to look at for some time, but never got round to it. For years I’ve looked at it’s huge long brick Erecting Shop as I pass it on the M61, and last went in the early 90′s when the site was used for car boot sales on sunday mornings. I actually went to the last works open day in 1980, but I was only six at the time, so my memories are limited to what family photographs show me.

The history of the site is extensive and well documented, but briefly, it was opened in 1886 by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway s they had outgrown their works at Miles Platting. There is a very good write up on Wiki of the site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horwich_Works.

The main site shut in quite controversial circumstances in 1983, although the foundry remained in use (in private ownership) until about 2003. The site has been split into industrial units, and is frankly in a sorry state, with plantlife growing in the gutters and many windows broken even in buildings that are occupied. And yet, reminders of its past are everywhere – extensive sections of track, painted signs over doorways – ‘Machine Shop’, ‘Electrical Maintenance’ and the like, heavy duty overhead cranes for lifting locomotives, even patches of camouflage paint from World War 2 when the site made tanks and munitions.


Main Offices of the works. You can just make out where two arches have been bricked up, this provided access to the boiler shops in the block of buildings behind the offices.


Wheel Shop, originally the Heavy Machine Shop.


Looking over the Electrical Maintenance Shop towards the Foundry.


A photo of a space. This space was actually once part of the erecting shop, but less than five years before the works shut, this section was demolished to build a traverser so that electric multiple units could be brought in and processed through the north end of the shed. just three years before the works shut. In fact three million pounds was spent on the site at that time, testament to the unusual way in which British Rail was run at the time.


Cranes. I think these were 50 ton cranes, for use lifting boilers and even entire locos around the erecting shop.


Crane drivers cabin.







Erecting Shop, this is the most impressive building on site. 1830 steam locomotives were built in here, as well as 169 diesel shunters. The building is still used by a company making concrete products, and is in a sorry state. However, beneath the concrete, wooden patterns and other detritus lie railway lines, and up above, the old overhead cranes still sit on their tracks, huge hooks still hanging down. Giant iron pillars run the length of the shed, supporting the roof and the crane track, far more substantial than would be found in a modern factory, but a fine example of Victorian over-engineering that has lasted 120 years. Halfway along the shop, up a flight of now rickety stairs, is a wooden balcony level, where the shop manager would have presided over this vast hive of industry.


North end of the erecting shops. Completed engines would emerge from here ready for testing and then onto the Horwich branch for use on the main line.

Old photos:


Cranes in the erecting shop in use


Repairing locomotives in the erecting shop


Boiler Shop




Cogging Mill in the Forge


Fitting Shop


The original Foundry - the current one dates from the 50's.


Fitting Shop - note the narrow gauge railway running down the middle of the shop.
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Default 18-08-2010, 14:52

excellent, i really like these mate


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Default 18-08-2010, 15:15

Nicely done, Been past this place a million times , always wanted to take a look. Excellent Pics, B&W adds a really nice atmosphere


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Default 18-08-2010, 18:31

A word to the wise, at the moment, most of the buildings are secure or are in use, and there is on site security, so you'd be looking at externals for most of the site, with the exception of one notable building
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Default 18-08-2010, 21:24

nice report...like your pics and the historic ones...thanks for sharing.
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