Horwich is a Lancashire and Yorkshire railway tank engine.
In the early 60s he came down from Lancashire on his own, albeit with his driver, to search for work. The engines were surprised to discover him in their shed. But they warmed up to him quickly when he told them about his long working life. He has allocated to many yards in England and was an auto-fitted engine which meant he could operate forwards and backwards. He is 79-years-old and strangely, does not feel bitterness or contentment towards diesels, reasoning that modernisation has existed as long as the railway has itself. He hopes for a second chance, but doubts he will get it because of his age. He sadly tells the engines that he is the last of his class.
The news of Horwich spreads fast around Euston, and soon even visiting engines are fascinated by his story. Horwich even impresses William, much to the surprise of his friends. The shedmaster puts him to work on shunting duties, tired of waiting for a response from BR. On his first day, he stops a runaway goods train bumped by John. With the help of his guard, he is able to stop the train from crashing into Den. When he returns home, he is praised by his friends for his bravery. And more than that, he becomes popular among the railwaymen and locals for preventing an accident. Everyone is confident that he will be granted a second chance. Unfortunately, the joy is short lived. The shedmaster sadly informs Horwich that despite his actions, he is set to be withdrawn. All the engines are depressed by this news. Horwich tries to hide his hurt feelings by saying he went out with a bang. But none of the engines can bring themselves to laugh.
The engines and shedmaster feel betrayed by BR's decision on Horwich and are furious that he will be withdrawn and likely scrapped. They vow to save Horwich somehow. After a disaster with Terry and Arthur, Horwich is pulled back into service to pull the Royal Train for Princess Margaret, the Countess of Snowden. He does it well and gains further support from everyone. But this gets the shedmaster in trouble with an obnoxious female inspector. She is angry at having a vintage tank engine like Horwich pulling such a prestigious train. She sees Horwich as outdated and useless, and demands he be withdrawn again and held for disposal. Angry and infuriated, the engines decide enough is enough and decide to go on strike to prevent Horwich from his demise. The inspector tries to force the engines to move aside but they stand firm to protect him. And Horwich insists that he is not out of date and still able to work like the older engines. For two weeks, the strike continues, and support for Horwich continues to grow until finally, BR gives up and allows Horwich to remain. Horwich will continue to work alongside the Euston engines as long as steam is around. Horwich is known as the rescue engine, or more popularly the Royal Engine. But all of his friends know him as Horwich the Lancashire and Yorkshire engine.
Horwich is based on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Class 5. All but 3 of his class were scrapped by 1961. The engine bearing his number was one of the 3 survivors but the engine was not preserved. Instead his brother 50621 was the one chosen for the National Collection and is now on static display at the NRM.
Horwich is painted in BR Lined Black with an Early Crest.
- Horwich's Search For Work
- Journey North
- An Anxious Wait
- Babs and Seraphim
- Engine 17
- Seen & Not Heard
- Horwich's name comes from Horwich Works, the place he was erected in.
- The real 50636 was one of the last withdrawn, c. 1957.
- Horwich is one of the only characters that is ready to give in but want to work as long as BR will let him.
- His wheel configuration, 2-4-2, is referred to as a "Columbian", as the 2-4-2 is known as in the Whyte Notation.
- The first of Horwich's brothers, LYR no. 1008, is preserved at the National Railway Museum today.
- His brothers were some of the only tank locomotives of all time to have water scoops for long-distance runs (via twisting a screw handle on the footplate and lowered into water troughs laid between the rails to top up the side tanks on the move).
- He's one of the first to find that Den has a good side.
- He became very popular in his debut episode.
- Many of the LYR tanks were common in Manchester.
- One of Horwich's brothers found its way into the Railway Series, in the form of the Furness Railway serving Albert in the RWS no. 41 "Thomas & Victoria," being depicted in the FR red livery instead of plain black that the LYR often used on its engines.