The booklet is a scarce item, and quite expensively produced, obviously intended for VIP visitors. The precise date of July 1911 suggests some special event, but I have not been able to establish what this might have been.
Horwich Loco Works (the company’s carriages and wagons were built and repaired at Newton Heath) was one if the most modern in the country having been developed on a greenfield site from 1886 (only Inverurie, Great North of Scotland 1903 and Eastleigh, London & South Western, 1909 could claim to be more up to date. Horwich was something of a figure of fun to the other two main English works in the grouped LMS. It was a running joke at both Derby and Crewe that “Horwich talked in thous but appeared to work to the nearest half-inch”. But then There was underlying animosity, because on the basis apparently of “Buggin’s Turn” the LMS Directors chose L&Y CME Hughes (who really wanted two or three quiet years before retiring) as CME of the Grouped Company, in preference to Hewitt Beames of the LNWR or Sir Henry Fowler of the Midland.
Be that as it may I can contribute one anecdote that certainly indicated dubious working practice at Horwich. As a lately demobed (late in, late out) former RAF acting squadron leader in 1947, my father was finding it difficult to get work in civilian life. Eventually he was taken on by Electrolux as a combined door to door salesman cum service engineer, and he only got that because he still had his wedding suit from 1937 (37s-6p and I am still wearing the waistcoat!) and a car the Talbot “Black Hearse ”, mentioned two or three other times on this site. To explain – the majority of vacuum cleaner sales in those days were door to door, not through retailers and the two main firms concerned Hoover and Electrolux were keen rivals. (Both regarded Goblin with contempt). The Hoover dress code was Demob suit or sports jacket and flannels, with trench coat and flat cap or trilby. Electrolux regarded themselves as a cut above. They insisted on black jacket and pin-stripes, Crombie overcoat, or similar and a grey “Anthony Eden” Homberg hat. Presenting himself for interview in wedding suit, borrowed overcoat and a new hat which cost most of his remaining gratuity, father got the job and on his second day was sent on an urgent service call to the LMS Loco Works at Horwich.
Expecting to be ushered into the offices he was a bit disconcerted to be escorted a long way through the works to an ill-lit dirty shop containing a couple of noisy gas engines. These drew their fuel supply via a 1938 model Electrolux vacuum cleaner plumbed into the gas main.
“When the Town Gas pressure was reduced early in the war these engines were continually starved, and would not work properly, so one of our fitters rigged this up to boost the pressure, with the vac on “Blow” instead of suck. Works a treat!”
“Hmmm”. Said father. “You do realise that if any air leaks into this lash’up, a spark from the electric motor could cause an explosion which would probably take out this end of the works and half of Horwich as well?”
“Well it has been making funny noises lately, which is why we wanted a service call…”
“Switch it off!”
“Switch the bloody thing off! I will call back tomorrow, and if has not been dismantled I will report it to the Factories Inspectorate”.
This is the tale that was told for what it is worth. This booklet makes clear however that Horwich made its own gas, independent of the town supply although wartime conditions may have caused changes.
This is a rare souvenir of a major locomotive works in its prime.
PREVIEW BELOW – MAY TAKE A WHILE TO LOAD.