Liverpool Overhead Railway

The Liverpool Overhead Railway was one of the first electrified railway systems in the world. It opened in 1893 running alongside the docks in Liverpool, the railway being built on elevated sections. The LOR operated electric multiple units, the first in the world to enter service. The first of these were built by Brown, Marshall & Company from 1892 onwards as two-car units. Later on trailers were built to allow for three car sets to operate in peak time. Off-peak, motor cars could operate on their own.

Number built: 54 (2 or 3-car sets)
Built: 1892-1918
Builder: Brown, Marshall & Company, Metro-Cammell
Motor: (Original) 2 Westinghouse motors per car
(Later) 2 English Electric motors (500v DC third rail)
Power: 120hp (90kW) / 200 hp (150 kW)

The fleet was upgraded a number of times over their lifetimes. Originally they were fitted with Westinghouse gearless 60hp/45kw motors [1][2] but these were later upgraded to 100hp/75kw motors from English Electric/Dick, Kerr [3]. This extra power helped reduce journey times dramatically from thirty two to twenty minutes! However some trains were later given less powerful motors.

After the Second World War a number of units were rebuilt with the original wooden body sides replaced by aluminium and plywood [4]. Sliding doors were also fitted to replace the original slam doors. However by the early 1950s the system was in bad need of renovation but the railway company, which had not been nationalised to become part of British Railways, could not afford the huge costs involved [5]. The Liverpool Overhead Railway closed in 1956.
Preserved LOR motor car at the Museum of Liverpool

This is how the railway would have looked, from ground level

The LOR during operation [3]

Inside the preserved car

Another view from the ground

[1] Colin J Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 190
[2] R.L. Vickers, DC Electric Trains and Locomotives in the British Isles (David & Charles, 1986) p. 22
[3] "New equipment and improved schedule of the Liverpool Overhead Railway", Street Railway Journal Vol. XX No. 3 (July 1902) p. 108
[4] Marsden p. 191
[5] Jonathan Cadwallader & Martin Jenkins, Merseyside Electrics (Ian Allan, 2010) p. 3