Although the Great Eastern Railway built dedicated loco coal wagons to eight diagrams, only three are applicable to Basilica Fields. This and the following two posts will deal with the three types which will appear on the layout.

Some companies, such as the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway and the North London Railway, among others, were happy to outsource delivery of loco coal to a subcontractor (Stephenson Clarke in both cases), but the Great Eastern preferred to supply its own wagons for this duty. It is therefore rather surprising that the company didn’t build its first batch of dedicated loco coal wagons until 1891.  As mentioned in earlier instalments of this series,   general merchandise wagons had previously been commandeered by the loco department, and it was a year after the first batches of  Diagram 31 wagons were released to traffic before the high-sided wagons utilised until then were cascaded back into revenue-earning service.

The design was simple;  10 Tons and 15ft over headstocks with a 9ft wheelbase,  the wagons had steel underframes, a wooden floor, and were seven planks high with the top two planks fixed across the length of the wagon with inside diagonal bracing.  The wagons remained in production until 1899 by which time 1250 examples had been built.

One of the few photos that I’m aware of showing a diagram 31 loco coal wagon in the pre-1902 livery. This is wagon no. 946 at Loughton circa 1900.
The very interesting rake of Worsdell period close-coupled suburban stock will also appear on Basilica Fields…watch this space for more details.
Photograph ©Public Domain

Loco coal wagons were listed separately in the half yearly reports but were grouped with merchandise and mineral wagons, not with the departmental wagons, and were therefore painted grey and not green like the loco sand wagons.

As mentioned in Part 5, from 1904 the first of 650 Diagram 31 wagons were converted to Diagram 48 general merchandise wagons, and an example of this conversion will be included in the stock list.

Thanks to John Watling of the GER Society for information on the half-yearly reports.