Goods Traffic


In 1890 James Holden introduced a new development of his T18 class which had originally been designed for shunting and trip goods turns, but fortuitously turned out to be very good on the burgeoning suburban passenger services too.

When the need arose for further suburban tanks, Holden improved the design to suit intensive passenger work by providing a more steady-riding engine. This was achieved by increasing the trailing coupled wheelbase by six inches and reducing the length of the frames at the rear by one foot. In addition the tanks were repositioned further forward and the length of the cab shortened.  Peripheral changes included moving the front steps from just ahead of the side tanks to in front of  the sandboxes, and, as on the E22 class, positioning the spectacles higher on the weatherboards just under the eaves.

The ten locos were fitted for passenger work with Westinghouse brakes, screw reverse, screw couplings, destination board brackets on the smokebox door and bunker, and steel 10-spoke balanced wheels with a 10″ crank throw and straight brake pull rods.

As usual the new locos were classified by the initial batch order number and designated R24. They were numbered 327 to 336, numerically following on from the last of the T18 class. The R24s were released to traffic between 18th March and 18th April and sent to relieve the final batch of T18s working passenger duties on the Enfield and Chingford lines. The T18s were demoted to shunting duties and stripped of their Westinghouse brake equipment which was immediately fitted to the second batch of ten R24s (Order S24 numbered 337 to 346), already close to completion and originally intended for shunting duties. This second batch of passenger locos were handed over to the Running Department between 28th April and 14th May.

With the loss of the S24 order to the passenger side, it fell to the next two batches to make up the required number of shunting and trip goods locomotives; as intimated above, Holden had already decided not to revisit the T18 design, and the R24 class became his new standard for both passenger and shunting tanks. Twenty new locos were ordered in two consecutive batches to order numbers A26 and B26 and given running numbers 397 to 416. These were virtually identical to the R24 and S24 passenger locos with 7′ 9 ¾” wide tanks, cabs and bunker, but in common with the T18 class were fitted with handbrakes, lever reverse, and unbalanced 15-spoke cast iron wheels with  an 11″ crank throw necessitating a reversion back to the 1½” drop sections in the brake rods underneath the path of the crankpin.

Following on from his steel firebox experiments with the E22 class, Holden fitted the ten locos to order A26 with copper inner fireboxes and those to order B26 with steel inner fireboxes from new, and the two batches provided a useful comparison. The twenty locos were released to traffic between 18th November 1890 and 24th January 1891 and  nos. 407 to 416 retained their steel fireboxes until rebuilt between November 1901 and June 1907, when the fireboxes were scrapped and replaced by newly constructed copper ones.

Contrary to what has been published about these early steel fireboxes to date (and that includes both Yeadon’s Register, the RCTS ‘Green Bible’ and articles in the GER Society Journal), I can state with absolute certainty that these locos had their safety valves in the same position over the steel firebox as locos with copper fireboxes, and not over the rear ring of the boiler as previously believed. That particular modification came much later.

No.407 from Order B26 of 1890 was ex-Works on 26 November 1890 and released to traffic on 15 December. As seen here it represents Holden’s improved shunting loco, based on the T18 with the changes noted in the text above. Here at last is proof that the early experiments with steel inner fireboxes didn’t force the safety valves off the firebox onto the back ring of the boiler – the details on the number plate proves the loco hasn’t been rebuilt and the shrouded Ramsbottom valves are firmly seated in their original position. The Worsdell blower has the operating rod separate to the handrail, passing over the top of the tank, and the 15 spoke unbalanced wheels with an 11” crank throw require the same 1½” drop sections in the brake pull rods as the T18 class. Worsdell’s parallel buffer casings of 1882 are fitted. The toolbox has been moved to the drivers side, and looks pretty filthy, and there’s a conical re-railing jack up on the tank top – de rigueur for shunters as some of the permanent way in the GER sidings could be ‘interesting’.  A nice mix of buffed paintwork and working grime. Photo © Public Domain.

No.407 from Order B26 of 1890 was ex-Works on 26 November 1890 and released to traffic on 15 December. As seen here it represents Holden’s improved shunting loco, based on the T18 with the changes noted in the text above. Here at last is proof that the early experiments with steel inner fireboxes didn’t force the safety valves off the firebox onto the back ring of the boiler – the details on the number plate proves the loco hasn’t yet been rebuilt and the shrouded Ramsbottom valves are firmly seated in their original position. The Worsdell blower has the operating rod separate to the handrail, passing over the top of the tank, and the 15 spoke unbalanced wheels with an 11” crank throw require the same 1½” drop sections in the brake pull rods as the T18 class. Worsdell’s parallel buffer casings of 1882 are fitted. The toolbox has been moved to the drivers side, and looks pretty filthy, and there’s a conical re-railing jack up on the tank top – de rigueur for shunters as some of the permanent way in the GER sidings could be ‘interesting’. A nice mix of buffed paintwork and working grime. Photo © Public Domain.

A further twenty passenger tanks numbered 347 to 366  to orders P29 and R29 were released to traffic between 25th February and 18th May 1892. Whereas previous batches had had Worsdell’s pattern of spherical blower mounted on the smokebox above the separate boiler handrail with the operating rod passing along the top of the tank to a handwheel the cab, those in batch R29 (and possibly P29) had the blower mounted at the end of the handrail with the operating rod inside, passing through the tank to a handle in the cab.

From 1892 all new builds and replacement smokeboxes were of the flanged design with radiused edges, as described in the entry on the T18 class.

In 1893 all forty passenger tanks of the R24 design were fitted with condensing apparatus. Visually this consisted of a 6″ deep rectangular chamber fixed on top of each tank stretching from the cab to just behind the filler lid. A  U-shaped pipe was bolted to the top of the left-hand chamber with a transverse pipe linking the two chambers across the top of the boiler, and venting pipes positioned behind on either side.  An operating crank on the rear of the left-hand side of the smokebox was linked by a rod to the cab.

All of the passenger and shunting R24s up to this time were fitted with separate boiler and smokebox handrails and Roscoe displacement lubricators fixed to the side of their smokeboxes.

No.359 of Order R29 was ex-Works on 15 March 1892 and released to traffic on the 11 April.  The similarities with the T18 design are obvious, but the relatively minor changes make it ‘just so’.  The maximum date range for the photograph is 1893-1904 between the fitting of the condensing apparatus and its first rebuild. It has all the usual accoutrements of the early passenger R24s; early square-corner smokebox from built-up angle iron, the Worsdell blower attached to the end of the separate handrail, destination brackets on the smokebox door (and bunker), Holden’s tank filler lids with leather seals, the condensing chamber on the tank top along with the U-shaped tapered casting, copper connecting and vent pipes, and no coal rails on the bunker. The crew have moved the toolbox forward of the condensing pipes. The passenger rated tanks had 10-spoke balanced wheels with a 10” crank throw which led to straight brake pull rods, the Westinghouse pump in the tank front exhausting into the smokebox, brake hoses and screw couplings, and finally the passenger livery of ultramarine blue, lined vermilion and bordered black.  Photo © Public Domain.

No.359 of Order R29 was ex-Works on 15 March 1892 and released to traffic on the 11 April. The similarities with the T18 design are obvious, but the relatively minor changes make it ‘just so’. The maximum date range for the photograph is 1893-1904 between the fitting of the condensing apparatus and its first rebuild. It has all the usual accoutrements of the early passenger R24s; early square-corner smokebox from built-up angle iron, the Worsdell blower attached to the end of the separate handrail, destination brackets on the smokebox door (and bunker), Holden’s tank filler lids with leather seals, the condensing chamber on the tank top along with the U-shaped tapered casting, copper connecting and vent pipes, and no coal rails on the bunker. The crew have moved the toolbox forward of the condensing pipes. Holden’s tapered buffer casings are fitted. The passenger rated tanks had 10-spoke balanced wheels with a 10” crank throw which led to straight brake pull rods, the Westinghouse pump in the tank front exhausting into the smokebox, brake hoses and screw couplings, and finally the passenger livery of ultramarine blue, lined vermilion and bordered black. Photo © Public Domain.

As a result of an exponential growth in suburban passenger traffic in the 1890s, between 1894 and 1896 the number of passenger rated R24s doubled; orders N33, F36, Y36 and C37, consisting of ten engines a-piece, were given running numbers 367 to 376, 377 to 386, 387 to 396 and 265 to 274, and these new batches exhibited visible modifications to the previous forty passenger locos, viz:

The condensing chambers were now built into the tank tops and the side sheets were extended upwards from the cab for about three quarters of the length of the tank to cover them, the design incorporated a sultry characteristic curve downwards at the front end by the filler lid.  Batch C37 received boilers with steel inner fireboxes from new, and as with the earlier B26 order retained safety valves on the firebox, but were the last to do so – all future experiments with steel fireboxes would incorporate the safety valves on the back ring of the boiler. Numbers 265 to 374 retained these experimental fireboxes until they were rebuilt which took place between January 1908 and June 1912, long after the period covered by Basilica Fields.

The locomotives to order N33 of 1894 were the first of the type to receive continuous handrails from new, and over an extended period of time, some (but by no means all) of the previous sixty examples had their separate handrails replaced.  The N33s were also the first to have Macallan blastpipes fitted from new, and all the earlier locos had them fitted as they came into Works. Sight-feed lubricators were another new modification and were fixed on the inner side sheet of the cab on the fireman’s side replacing the Roscoe displacement lubricators fitted to the smokebox. Again, earlier locos had them fitted as they passed through the Works.

The final modification made to the N33 batch was the fitting of Holden’s first design of blower valve, operated through a rod in the continuous handrail. The handrail was broken at the smokebox centreline and a crank attached to both the rod and a plunger which operated the side valve blower within the smokebox itself. Within a year Holden developed a new pattern of rotary blower which again was operated via a push-pull rod within the handrail attached. As before the rod was attached to a crank, but this time instead of a break in the handrail there was a slot in the back where the rod and crank joined. The rotary blower was first fitted to No.377 of Order F36 in 1895 and all subsequent engines.

Not the best of photographs, No.377 the first loco from Order F36 was ex-Works on 10 October 1895. The photo was almost certainly taken just prior to its release to traffic on 11 November of that year.  The loco represents the pinnacle of the passenger R24 design before rebuilding began. The new-style flanged smokebox, continuous handrails and rotary blower, condensing chambers built into the tank tops with side-sheets extending to the top (and that curve down to the filler lid), and three coal rails on the bunker. The toolbox has been lined out (and on the original it’s numbered). Photo © Public Domain.

Not the best of photographs, No.377 the first loco from Order F36 was ex-Works on 10 October 1895. The photo was almost certainly taken just prior to its release to traffic on 11 November of that year. The loco represents the pinnacle of the passenger R24 design before rebuilding began. The new-style flanged smokebox, continuous handrails and rotary blower, condensing chambers built into the tank tops with side-sheets extending to the top (and that curve down to the filler lid), and three coal rails on the bunker. Holden’s tapered buffer casings are fitted. The toolbox on the driver’s side has been lined out (and on the original photo you can see it’s been numbered). Photo © Public Domain.

Some of the earlier locos which eventually received continuous handrails were also fitted with the rotary blower, others gained continuous handrails but retained the earlier Worsdell blower. Of course many locos kept both the separate handrails and Worsdell’s spherical blower and there were even a handful of examples which retained the separate handrails but were fitted with the intermediate design of side valve blower in place of the Worsdell blower mounted above the handrail. So much for standardisation!

Between 1895 and 1899 the twenty shunting tanks from batches A26 and B26 passed through the Works to be fitted with the steam brake.  Coal rails were also fitted to the bunkers of most, but not all of the locos at this time.

Two more batches of shunting tanks were delivered between 1899 and 1900; numbers 255 to 264 and 199 to 208 formed orders H45 and G47 and were given boilers of a new design with two telescopic rings pressed to 160psi instead of the previous butt-jointed two ring boilers with a working pressure of 140psi. From here on, all new and replacement boilers would conform to this latest standard. These twenty shunters were fitted with the steam brake from new.

Photo: No.201 of Order G47 represents the final form of the R24 shunters. Ex-Works on 8 December 1899 and released to traffic ten days later it’s seen here in mid-1921 having been rebuilt in 1915, but in almost the same condition as when first built with continuous handrails, flat-topped tanks (no condensing apparatus) and the McAllan variable blastpipe crank and operating rod on the smokebox. The only ‘out-of-period’ differences being the heavy smokebox door (fitted 1915) and the bars over the rear spectacles (fitted from c1910). The livery is post-War grey with Train Control numbers on the tank sides. Who said pre-Group locos were all shiny? Photo © Public Domain.

Photo: No.201 of Order G47 represents the final form of the R24 shunters in the GE period. Ex-Works on 8 December 1899 and released to traffic ten days later it’s seen here in mid-1921 having been rebuilt in 1915, but in almost the same condition as when first built with continuous handrails, flat-topped tanks (no condensing apparatus) and the MacAllan variable blastpipe crank and operating rod on the smokebox. Worsdell’s parallel buffer casings are fitted. The only ‘out-of-period’ differences being the heavy smokebox door (fitted 1915) and the bars over the rear spectacles (fitted from c1910). The livery is post-War grey with Train Control numbers on the tank sides. Who said pre-Group locos were all shiny? Photo © Public Domain.

The final twenty passenger-rated R24s, nos.199 to 208 and 160 to 169 to orders S48 and R50 were identical to the four batches introduced between 1894-6 and were released to traffic between 1900 and 1901, the last entering service on 6th September 1901.

A total of one hundred and forty locos to the R24 design had entered traffic in the space of eleven years. Although no more locos were built to this particular classification it was far from the end, and most of the passenger locos were on the cusp of a very significant change.

Services

The majority of the frenetic London suburban services hauled by the R24s out of Liverpool Street were allocated to the three principal branch lines of Chingford, Enfield and Palace Gates (which in 1920 would collectively form the famous ‘Jazz’ service) and routed north at Bethnal Green Junction via the 1872 route to Hackney Downs avoiding  the Basilica Fields area which was situated about a mile east of the junction. In 1905 an astonishing twenty one trains an hour left Liverpool Street during the evening peak for these three branches alone, ten of which were diagrammed for the Chingford line. In contrast, during the period covered by this project there were always about a dozen or so trains in both directions each day to Chingford calling at Globe Road (Devonshire Street), Coborn Road and Basilica Fields on the Colchester line before turning north at Stratford, stopping at Lea Bridge before diverting onto the branch.

Many other suburban services on GER lines relied on the diminutive tanks and these included some interesting gems such as the three Woolwich services to Palace Gates, Chingford and Fenchurch Street – the latter running via either Stratford or exercising running rights over the Tilbury line via Bromley (-by-Bow). Other delights included Gospel Oak on the Tottenham & Hampstead Joint to both Chingford and Woolwich, and the East London Line services from Liverpool Street to the exotic destinations of New Cross and New Croydon on the Brighton Line via the Thames Tunnel and the East London Railway. Unfortunately none of these trains came within a mile or so of Basilica Fields, but there were a few services of interest which will be replicated including those from Liverpool Street to Woolwich, Gallions and the V&A Docks via Stratford Market. In addition the R24s occasionally took the slow outer suburban Hertford service via Stratford and Lea Bridge.

Although a number of locos were retained for passenger off-peak services (and night trains on the Chingford line for the artisan citizens of suburbia), many of the passenger-rated R24s were only required for the relentless morning and evening peak services. This meant that minor maintenance could be carried out during the day, freeing the locos up for night-time deployment on shunting turns and the vast number of trip goods workings serving the suburban goods yards between the hours of 10pm and 6am.

Modelling the R24s

The LNER J67 was one of Jim McGeown’s earliest Connoisseur Models kits, from c1991, and represent what later became of the GER shunting R24s. The kit has been unavailable as a stock item for many years and in modern terms it’s fairly basic, but is pretty good in all the essential dimensions,  builds well and is an excellent foundation for a decent model. I have nine of the breed in the pile ready for assembly and conversion back to Great Eastern condition which involves scratchbuilding the cab interior and roof, and making several changes to the platework and castings.

As the passenger variety was also used on goods turns I’ve decided to build four shunting and five passenger examples, and in time will write separate journal entries on each.

Here’s one of the B26 batch of shunting engines I built to commission a couple of years ago.

Photograph ©2012 Adrian Marks

Photograph ©2012 Adrian Marks

References

  • Great Eastern Locomotives Past & Present 1862-1945 – C Langley Aldrich RCTS Locomotives of the LNER Part 8A
  • Locomotives Illustrated #116
  • Yeadon’s Register Volume 48
  • The Locomotive Magazine
  • The Great Eastern Society Special #3 ‘All Stations to Liverpool Street’
  • Lyn Brooks of the GERS
  • John Gardner of the GERS
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Friends; first of all I would urge all loyal readers of this humble journal to go and order a the pair of carriages which comprise the new Roxey Mouldings’ LB&SCR 1909 push pull sets (not yet illustrated on their website), recently acquired from the MSC stable.  For your delight there’s a driving composite to LBSCR Diagram 109/111 – SR Diagram 434/435, and a trailer third to SR Diagram 79.  I’m certain they’re lovely kits and you will all be happy with at least one, if not more on your layout, whatever your scale, region or period.

End of blatant advert.

Good news! The previously unidentified Great Northern covered vans described here have been…well…identified,  It appears that the vans were introduced in 1875 (or possibly 1879) and lasted in service right through the Basilica Fields timeframe, the last examples being withdrawn in the years immediately following Grouping.

Not only that, but all this time a kit for them has been available.

Until recently.

It was part of the MSC range, now scattered to various manufacturers, and the artwork suggests that someone like Tim Hughes may well have been involved in the origination. The kits recently found a new home under the Roxey Mouldings banner and I was fortunately able to obtain the three kits which constituted Dave Hammersley’s entire stock at the recent Railex spectacular in Aylesbury.

This is a good start, but more examples are required. I’ve got my order in for more from the next batch delivered from the etcher, but unfortunately the artwork for the vans is on the corner of an etched sheet for the above mentioned Brighton push pull set and, rather sensibly, Dave won’t order more frets from the etchers until his present stock of push pull kits reduces.

So if anyone would like a lovely 1909 Brighton set or three I’d be very, very grateful…

What? You thought there wasn’t a method in the above madness?

By far the most prolific item of stock owned by the Great Eastern Railway was the humble steel-framed 10 ton high-sided open wagon.  On his appointment to Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Superintendent, James Holden was keen to eradicate timber-framed wagons favoured by his predecessors, and begin production of steel-framed wagons.  The story of how this was achieved may well be the subject of a future journal entry.

A test batch of 50 was built in 1886 (though I’ve not yet determined if they followed the body styling of the then contemporary Diagram 16 wagon or were a unique batch), and then between 1893 and 1903 a further 12,000 were built to what became Diagram 17. They represented well over half of the total wagon output of the GER in that period, which came to total of 21,995 wagons, 11,619 of which were built on capital account thereby increasing the number in revenue earning service, and the remaining 10,336  replaced life-expired vehicles.

By the time the Diagram 17 ceased production in 1903,  the total wagon stock owned by the GER numbered 26,512, and the importance of general merchandise open wagons to the company can be measured by the fact that the 12,050 Diagram 17, the 3640 Diagram 16, and the 2000 round-ended wagons  in service totalled 66.7% of  stock in the wagon register book.

One of the 1901 builds, no.29279 seen after repainting in 1910 (having run in the old livery for eight years after it was discontinued) has all the contemporary mod cons: a horse hook and rope holes on the solebar, drift bolt holes, pressed steel spring shoes and stops, Monarch door balancing gear, with the linkage attached to the right hand side of the central ironwork – note the central hinge has been removed, a rectangular combined maker’s and load plate in the final position, and a Cocker’s Patent label clip in a white-edged box. Note the Worsdell 4-plank open on the right, numbered 14282, almost certainly from the same batch as no.14297 seen in the entry on that wagon design. Photograph ©Public Domain.

Up to 1896 wagons were built at Stratford, after which production moved to the new and dedicated wagon & carriage works at Temple Mills.  However, an unprecedented demand for over 2250 new wagons per annum in the late 1890s was too great a number even for the additional capacity at the new works, and so a contract was made with W.R. Renshaw & Co of Stoke on Trent in January 1901 to supply 750 of these open wagons for delivery by September (note that Peter Tatlow gives an incorrect figure of 100 wagons in his book) . Unfortunately, by the autumn less than half had been delivered, and it was to be another year before the final wagon left the Stoke works. Just as unsatisfactory was the fact that the average cost of the Renshaw wagons was 10% greater than those built at Temple Mills, and by the time the last of the contracted wagons had entered revenue-earning service, Temple Mills was again running below capacity. In fact, no further wagons were built on capital account, and from then on new wagons simply replaced life-expired ones and the overall wagon stock level remained constant.

The key difference between the final Diagram 16 wagons and the first Diagram 17 wagons, aside from the obvious change of frame material, was the substitution of the double brake vee hangar as fitted to the timber frames, for a single vee with a centrally mounted dropper located about a third of the way inboard from the solebar. The photograph above shows this very well.

Over the decade the Diagram 17 wagon was in production, many changes took place as technology advanced, and I’ll try to give a précis of those changes relevant to the wagons which will be seen on Basilica Fields.

  • June 1893 – April 1895,  no’s 16301-17000: As built to GA 8365.  No horse hooks or solebar holes, single door stops mounted in line with the central door hinge. Cast iron bearing spring shoes and stops, separate maker’s and 10 load plates (described in detail in the entry on the Worsdell 4-plank opens)  mounted on the bottom plank in line with the wheel centres.
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  • April 1895 onwards,  no’s 17001 – 18990:  A new style of buffing plate with eight rather than six plates was introduced in April 1895 and the externally this was marked by 1¾” diameter holes being set in 5¾” from the headstock at either end of the solebars, enabling the pin securing the buffer rod to be hammered out by drift bolt.
    .
    In June of the same year, a horse hook riveted to the solebar the left-hand end was introduced. Contemporaneously, a 3″ diameter hole 10½” left of the wheel centre was provided on some, but by no means all new wagons as an alternative means for securing shunting ropes and chains.
    .
    400 examples of an 1895 batch were given underframe members made from Fox’s pressed steel plates. very little data is available, and none really relevant to modelling the wagons.
    .
  • January 1897 – June 1899, no’s 18991 – 19700 & 22000 – 24000:  From January 1897 the single central door stop was superseded by a pair of stops aligned with the outer door hinges as a means of better supporting the falling door. John Watling has speculated that their origin may also be attributed to an early experiment with either-side brake gear which required a centrally placed lever which would have conflicted with the single, central door stop . Initial batches had a block of wood bolted to the face of each stop, but these were soon omitted.Sometime around 1898 new builds had the two separate maker’s and load plates moved to the second plank from the bottom, and positioned 3″ from the corner plates.
    .
  • January 1899 onwards, no’s 23950- 24500:  This batch were the first new builds to have a new pressed steel version of the bearing spring shoes and stops.  As the cast iron ones broke on older wagons they were retro-fitted with the new steel type.
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  • June 1899 onwards 24501 – 2499  & 27001 – 30320. From June 1899 the pair of door stops were superseded on new builds by Monarch door balancing gear, which assisted in both raising and lowering the side doors. This consisted of a single lever bolted to the solebar with the linkage attached on either the right or the left hand side of the hinge in the middle of the door, and a powerful spring mounted behind the solebar. On later batches the central door hinge was discontinued, but the ironwork retained for both strength and for somewhere to attach the linkage.
    .
  • January 1900 onwards, no’s 27500 – 30320:  The two separate eliptical maker’s and load plates were superseded on new builds by a combined rectangular plate which measured 11″ x 7″  fixed to the second plank up on the left hand side about 8″ from the corner plate. The new plate consisted of the GER initials, build date and carrying capacity.With the introduction of the new livery in 1902, wagons with elliptical plates on the second plank retained them in this position, earlier wagons with plates on the lower plank had them moved to the second plank up. However, wagons with rectangular plates on the second plank had them moved to the bottom plank on the right hand side, hard up against the corner plate.
    .
  • Throughout, the livery is the same as the Diagram 16 wagons. From 1902, no’s 30041-30320 plus some randomly numbered wagons were the only ones to receive the new larger style livery from new. During 1902 some may have received the short-lived square-style large G and numbers, but the majority would have received the style illustrated above.
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  • Miscellaneous differences:  For some unknown reason, and it appears to have been rather random in execution, some wagons received an additional angle plate at each corner below the corner plates tying in the curb rail with the end rail.
    .
    The position of sheet rings varied, some were fitted to the side rail and end crib rail, whereas other had them fitted the bottom plank.
    .
    Subsequent changes to brakes, buffers, axleboxes and conversions were made to these wagons, but they fall outside of the Basilica Fields timeframe. Some, such as no.28965 (see Tatlow p.186) were fitted with Mansell wheels.

John Watling was also able to ascertain a selection of random running numbers outside the blocks noted above, a list by no means exhaustive:

  • 1893: 2442,2537,2551,7197,8573,9364
  • 1895: 2461,2916,3100,5790,6256,8251
  • 1896:  2367,4710,5653,5950,6117,6448
  • 1897: 2481,7190,7660,9074,10266,11270
  • 1898: 2706,3001,5359,6440,9827,12033
  • 1899: 2406,3261,6590,7177,9123,10152
  • 1900: 4277,6020,6785,7462,8089,11305
  • 1902: 3589,4850,5472,6563,6838,7862
  • 1903: 2112,3474,5847,6885,7935,8492

A mixed media kit of this wagon is available from the Furness Wagon Co. consisting of  a resin body, etched underframe and etched body ironwork, of which I have an example.  Although it makes a fair representation of the Diagram 17 wagons which might satisfy many modellers, I’m not convinced the work necessary to bring it up to the high standard of prototype fidelity required for Basilica Fields is time I’m prepared to invest in it, especially considering the numbers required. It may well be that I will produce a kit for this myself.

Without the benefit of John Watling’s research collated in an articles in the Great Eastern Society Journal numbers 83 and 86, specifically the running numbers of the wagons and differences between batches, this entry would have been significantly poorer in content.

James Holden’s  five-plank open to Diagram 16 was a direct continuation of Worsdell’s four-plank wagon,  the overall dimensions remaining the same  including the interior depth of 2′ 10¾”.

Apart from the extra plank, Holden’s Diagram 16 9 ton 5-plank opens were virtually identical to their 4-plank predecessor built by Worsdell. Modernisations include the Holden E-Type grease axleboxes and full-length buffer guides obviating the need for wooden packing pieces. One of the first in service, no.2376, was photographed in 1887, straight from the paintshop, in the livery that lasted until 1902.
Photograph ©Public Domain

Conflicting statements have been made in documents concerning the date this new design was introduced as being either 1885 or 1887, and the total number of wagons built down to 1893 as either 3640 or 3740. The General Arrangement drawing is dated 1887, which actually solves nothing as Stratford often produced GAs after the introduction of an item of rolling stock, but it does mean that Stratford GAs are often a useful record of what was actually built, rather than the intent of the designer. As with the Worsdell wagon, a proportion of these wagons were set aside and put to use on loco coal duties over the GN & GE Joint Line until the advent of dedicated loco coal wagons in 1891, after which they were put into revenue earning service.

Despite retaining the same timber underframe as its predecessor, the new five-plank design made it into Holden’s Wagon Register in 1901 and was designated Diagram 16. This ensured the design had a longer lifespan by avoiding early obsolescence and withdrawal, and in consequence 3,000 examples were still in revenue-earning service at Grouping.

Livery details both pre-and post-1902 are exactly the same as for the earlier 4-plank open.

A 7mm kit exists for this wagon, which when I first encountered it in the mid-90s, was marketed by Wagon & Carriage Works, and is now in the hands of Powsides. As the prototype represented approximately 20% of the total wagon stock of the GER in at the start of the Basilica Fields timeframe 1890 (a total of 14,893 in revenue-earning service), they will be the the second most common wagon to appear on the layout after the subject of the next instalment of this mini series.

There is much conflicting evidence surrounding these non-diagrammed open wagons introduced in 1883 by T.W. Worsdell, but they were undoubtedly the first modern high-sided wagons on the Great Eastern Railway – all previous high capacity general merchandise wagons right back to the days of the Eastern Counties Railway had been constructed with archaic round ends.

Photographed near the end of it’s revenue-earning life, no.14297 sits in the short siding at Norton Folgate power station filled with scrap metal. The post-1903 livery is fairly evident. Behind it is a high sided wagon two generations away to Diagram 17. Photograph © Public Domain.

Until the end of 1883  most new wagons on the Great Eastern were supplied by contractors  – only 200 out of 636 wagons ordered in 1883 were built at Stratford which instead concentrated on building specialised wagons, repairs and upgrades. However, continuing problems with contractor deliveries over the previous decade, coupled with the increase in traffic along the newly opened GN & GE Joint line prompted a change in policy. Concurrently, the Board had been monitoring the activities of the Midland Railway which was busy buying up private owner wagons (15,700 wagons by the end of 1883) and adding them to its own stock. All of these factors combined prompted the Great Eastern to follow the lead of the Great Northern Railway by increasing the building rate wagons suitable for both coal and general merchandise at its own works.

Therefore, in September 1883  Worsdell was instructed to  arrange the building of 20 wagons a week, the open wagons costing a total of £112 7s 0d each including wheels and iron work. By the time the design was updated to a 5-plank version of identical proportions in 1885, at least 900 examples were in revenue earning service, 867 examples constructed in 1884 alone.

Initially a number of these wagons were allocated as carriers of loco coal, but following the introduction of the Diagram 31 7-plank loco coal wagon in 1891, most had been transferred back to general merchandise duties by the end of the following year.

The average life expectancy of a Great Eastern wagon was 35-40 years,  but at the turn of the century, Worsdell’s successor, James Holden, began a rolling policy of removing timber-framed wagons from revenue earning service. In 1901 he complied a new Wagon Diagram Book and excluded this four-plank type,  so they remained non-diagrammed to extinction. By the end of the Edwardian period great inroads had been made into withdrawing the wagons and none made it to Grouping except those taken into departmental service.

Measuring 15′ 0″ over headstocks and with a 9′ 6″ wheelbase, they were constructed with planks 2½” thick to an internal height of 2′ 10¾”, and incorporated  side doors 5′ 2½” wide.  Solebars were 12″ by 4″ timber and the headstocks measured 1′ 0″ by 5″.  The wagons were fitted with contemporary short buffer castings that sat on  12″ square and 4″ thick wooden packing pieces bringing the total buffer length to 1′ 7″. The overall height of the wagons from the rail head was 7′ 1¼”.

A central strap on the side door dropped onto a steel door stop bolted to the solebar, protecting both the brake vee hanger and the door itself. Small rings along the sides of the curb rail and mounted on the second plank up on the ends were used for roping and securing protective sheets over goods. A  hook was bolted to the left hand side of each solebar to enable horse and capstan shunting by rope or by chain.

Typical of the period, brakes were single side; one lever acting upon both wheels which were 3′ 1″ diameter and the built-up, split-spoked variety. Four-leaf springs and Type A grease axleboxes with cast iron spring stops completed the running gear.

From new these wagons were finished in the contemporary Great Eastern livery for general goods stock; slate grey (Humbrol 67 or Phoenix Precision P505. G.E.R Freight Wagon Grey are perfect matches), the iron work below the solebar, buffer guides, buffers, drawgear, drawbar plates and couplings were all painted black.  Bodyside lettering consisted of the letters GER 5″ high on the second plank down on the left, with the running number on the same plank on the right hand side. 3″ lettering duplicated this information on the solebar either side of the vee hanger. A tare weight of circa 5-10-1 was painted in approximately 1½” numbers on the solebar over the left hand axlebox.

Separate elliptical makers and tonnage plates were fixed to the lowest planks on the left and right hand side, and these were 9″ x 7″ and 7¾” x 5¾” respectively.

From 1902 repainted wagons received new large GE lettering with the number on the lower left plank. Any wagons treated in that year would have received the short-lived square style of large letters, but from early 1903 the famous large, rounded style of lettering (as per the photo above) was applied and lasted until Grouping. The large initials were 24″ by 20″ and the running number 6⅞” high. The elliptical plates were moved up one plank to accommodate this change in style, and where applicable, the Cockers label clip on the lower right plank had a white box painted around it.

No kit exists for this wagon, but the Powsides kit of the virtually identical Diagram 16 5-plank open could be altered to represent the type. However, I’m seriously considering designing either an etched version or making a master for resin casting.

Quirky Questions No.8 “Covering up (in) the Past” is about a simple and important aspect of goods services…  how were wagon sheets, and the ropes which secured those sheets to open wagons, managed within and between railway companies?  Modellers with a hankering for the Midland Railway are served well by an excellent article in issue no.3 of the Midland Record journal (Wild Swan).  Other railways are not so well served as the Midland Rlwy. hence the request for information within Quirky Query No.8.

An initial response has been posted to the GWR E-list (a Yahoo Group) which reminds us that a GWR Sheet Store was at Worcester – clearly something to be pursued.  Thanks to John Greenough who is an ex-pat in the Antipodes.

Graham

Edit the first

An extract from the GWR WTT/STT section no.5, 1925, courtesy of Brian Bailey.

Now this is a conundrum…  how to ask a small and simple question about a subject which is so little considered and yet was of such importance to the carriage of goods in the late 19th century…  and a subject which was relevant to all railway companies since wagons from most (any?) of those companies could have been seen on the Extended Widened Lines.  OK, possibly wagons of the North London Railway might not have penetrated the gloom of those hallowed tracks..   maybe a reader can offer a plausible scenario for NLR wagons working over the EWL?

So to the subject of this post…  sheets ands ropes, required in their thousands for covering and protecting goods in transit when carried in open wagons.

Much has been written about how the railway companies managed the movement of loaded and empty wagons….  and about how the Railway Clearing House kept records of  foreign* wagon movements between railway companies….  little has been written about the management and return of the sheets and ropes which would have made similar journeys across railway boundaries.  A good explaination of how the Midland Railway (and its successors) managed wagon sheets and associated ropes is provided by Midland Record No.3 (Wild Swan)…  good enough to prompt investigation into how things were done on other railways.  Such a task seems necessary to the working of goods services through Basicilia Fields and yet such a task is onerous in the extreme.

How can readers of this journal assist?  Initially, by contributing to what is known and where such information is recorded relating to wagon sheets / ropes for those railway companies whose wagons are likely to form the bulk of the goods stock working over the Extended Widened Lines.  Please feel free to provide such details by comments to the Quirky Answers post for this subject.  Our initial thoughts are that such wagons are likely to come from the following companies:-

* Great Central Railway;
* Great Eastern Railway;
* Great Northern Railway;
* Great Western Railway;
* London and North Western Railway;
* Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway;
* Metropolitan Railway;
* Midland Railway (recorded in Midland Record No.3).

thank you, Graham

[BTW – information received on this subject is available in “Querky Answers – Sheets and Ropes“]

* foreign in this context means a wagon owned by railway company “A” working over the tracks of railway company “B”.

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