Two years ago I left the series on GE coal wagons incomplete, not for want of information, but simply an oversight – a silly error as the drafts were already complete. Here then is the penultimate entry, and the final one will go live in a couple of days.

During the 1890s receipts for coal traffic into London via the GN & GE Joint Line were strong, and investment in coal became a priority in the Boardroom at Liverpool Street. In 1892 the Great Eastern Railway became the major financial supporter of the proposed Lancashire, Derbyshire & East Coast Railway (from which access would be gained via a junction at Pyewipe on the Joint) by sinking a quarter of a million pounds into the building of the new line, for which the Company was given two seats on the Board.

When the new line opened in 1896 the GER insisted that operations be concentrated between Chesterfield and Pyewipe, thus gaining unlimited access to all the collieries on the system. By the end of the century twenty five Great Eastern-bound coal trains came off the LD&ECR each week, and to bolster the company’s loco coal wagons for this traffic, between 1899 and 1902 six hundred 15′ long, 8-plank wagons were built to a new design.

Photograph ©Public Domain

Damping down the coal dust at Stratford a decade and a half after the curtain closes on Basilica Fields. In front of the rotary tippler and 800 ton capacity reinforced concrete coaling bunker (containing about one and a half days’ normal supply) sits a line of loco coal wagons made up of a diagram 32 8-plank, two diagram 31 7-planks, a further diagram 32 8-plank and what looks like a post-War diagram 80 timber-framed 8-plank. The medium-sized post-1903 lettering for wooden-bodied  loco coal wagons makes an interesting comparison with the large 24″ lettering applied to general merchandise opens. A T18 ‘Buck’ fusses in the yard. Photograph ©Public Domain

Rated at 10 tons, the top three planks ran the length of the wagon over the top of the side doors, and as the steel floor precluded a curb rail, a length of timber was attached to the side of the solebar onto which the door hinges were mounted.  The steel underframe was the standard Stratford design with a 9′ 0″ wheelbase, and a single brake lever actuated two brake blocks on one side of the wagon.

Finished in the standard grey livery with white lettering, the 1899 wagons had separate oval maker’s and load plates, but from 1900 a combined rectangular plate was fitted to new builds. The 1902 wagons may have been out-shopped with the medium-sized square lettering (I’ve not yet found a photo to confirm or deny), but over time all were given the post-1903 medium-sized rounded letters.

Photograph ©Public Domain.

The Great Eastern bought vast quantities of coal when prices were cheap, building huge mazes out of the  stacks which waxed and waned in size as supplies increased and dwindled. At March the coal stacks even crossed the sidings at peak capacity. On a dull, dank, and thoroughly dingy 23 October 1911 two diagram 32 loco coal opens are parked nearest the camera on the south side near Norwood Drove. Photograph ©Public Domain.


Sample numbers included 977, 1416, and 1978.

Modelling the wagons

I’ve not yet located the GA for these wagons, but the type is ripe for utilising an etch for the standard GE wagon underframe, and a resin casting to the wagon body.