Larmanjat and The
Lisbon Tramway 1-1-2-1-1 Locomotive.

Updated: 13 June 2004
Back to Home PageBack to The Loco Index


The Larmajat monorail sysytem used its one centre rail for guiding only. The driving wheels ran on outside paved strips.

J. Larmanjat was born in Huriel, France, on 4th March 1826. His invention was first shown at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1867.

Left: The first Larmanjat line with a 1-2-1 locomotive.

This line opened in August 1868, running between Raincy et Montfermeil in France. By November 1869 it was closed.

The big question here is the function of the large spoked wheel at the front. It looks like a steering wheel, complete with full-time helmsman, but quite what function that could have had had on a railway is enigmatic. Was the guiding action of the single front wheel too feeble, so it needed to be actively steered to avoid derailment?

These are deep waters, Watson.

Above: A drawing of a French Larmanjat train showing the 1-2-1 wheel arrangement on the coaches. The strange ship's wheel at the front is clearly visible.

Left: Another picture of the French Larmanjat train which raises several questions.

The locomotive now appears to have a 1-2-0 wheel arrangement. The ship's wheel at the front has been replaced by something like a motorcar steering wheel, many years before motorcars existed.

Information accompanying this picture gives some clue about the steering business. Apparently the Raincy-Montfermeil line was sharply curved, and human assistance was indeed required to make sure the train followed the line of the rail.

It is noticeable that the three representations of the locomotive above vary significantly. Since the line was only open for 15 months, it is unlikely that any engines were replaced, so we must conclude that the artists were not too accurate in their portrayal. If only we had a photograph of this remarkable enterprise!


Left: The Lisbon Steam Tramway 1-1-2-1-1 Locomotive.

This remarkable locomotive on the Larmanjat principle was built by Sharp, Stewart for the Lisbon Steam Tramway system, which opened on 4 Sept 1873 to link Lisbon - Torres Vedras. Lisbon (Lisboa to those who actually live there) is the capital of Portugal. Fifteen of these locomotives were supplied; the date of manufacture was 1872.

Note that there is no steering wheel!

The two inside cylinders were 11" x 18"; the outside road wheels were 3' 9" in diameter.They appear to be smooth which raises questions about the amount of traction they could produce. The two small wheels at each end ran on the central guiding rail; presumably they were double-flanged to keep them in place.

Left: The Sharp, Stewart 1-1-2-1-1 Larmanjat in use.

Note the single rail with a paved strip each side in the foreground.

Location and date of photo unknown.

The Lisbon Steam Tramway was not a success and appears to have closed on 8th April 1875.

Back to Home PageTop of this pageBack to The Loco Index