Following closely on the heels of the last post, I am interested in more information on the GNR 16′ covered vans for perishable traffics.

There were a number of van types which appear to have been based on the 16′ outside framed van with 9′ 6″ wheelbase and four end posts, but with alterations to the roof (louvred clerestory and torpedo ventilators), to the body (various louvred openings) and fitted with the automatic vacuum brake and Westinghouse brake or through pipe, screw couplings, side chains, oil axle boxes, and sometimes, but not always, Mansell wheels. On release to traffic two step boards below the centre doors were also fitted.

Ventilated van 19319, to Diagram 114, with a load capacity of five tons was one of a number of vehicles built for the conveyance of lard and butter between London and Liverpool and may have been built (or repainted!) in April 1900. I understand it is recorded on page/block 16/7 of the official GN book of wagon illustrations.

Three other types of five ton vans, possibly similar in design to the lard van, are also of interest, two of which I’ve not been able to ascertain a GNR diagram for, neither have I seen a photograph or illustration of them:

A (non-diagrammed?) meat van, page/block 16/12 of which No.9213 was built in 1899.

A clerestory fruit van to diagram 115, page/block 17/13, one running number known is 19328

A (non diagrammed?) clerestory meat van page/block 18/17, of which No.9115 was built in 1901

Any information and/or corrections to the above vehicles greatly appreciated.

I’m also keen to hear comments on the livery. Despite the large GN initials being introduced in on goods stock in 1898,covered vans for special traffic obviously continued to have been lettered with small shaded figures.

August flew past without a single entry to the journal – not sure how that happened, but it has been very busy here of late.

Time to pick the collective brain of the readership; Great Northern general merchandise vans are nicely illustrated by Peter Tatlow in Part One of his history of LNER wagons (Wild Swan), but whereas the section on the Great Eastern (which, in my opinion, is unnecessarily shorter than the Great Northern and Great Central sections) gives the reader various dates of introduction of the types, the Great Northern section is decidedly mute on the matter. All very well I suppose, if you’ve no more than a casual interest or your modelling is set during the Grouping (a census of types taken in 1922, 1940 and 1947 is given in each chapter), and I admit the book is pitched predominantly at those with an interest in the LNER period, but is less useful for those of us modelling earlier decades.

So, on with the queries.

This type isn’t mentioned or illustrated in Tatlow, so I assume was extinct by Grouping. It’s not unlike Diagram 118 (LNER code 4082) which was an express, dual fitted van, though the latter omitted the diagonal ironwork. The number of planks suggests it is also 16′ long. It retains the original single lever acting on a single wheel brake block, and despite the June 1900 date on the solebar (which may indicate the date of the photo, rather than the repaint date), shows the pre-1898 livery in quite a dilapidated condition. One wonders why (an apparently official) photograph was taken of this particular van in such a condition, unless the type was to become extinct in the near future?

So, my questions for this van are:

1. When was the type introduced?

2. When did the type become extinct?

3. (Very long shot) is there a drawing of it?

More Quirky Questions to follow

There is now a follow up post to this query here.

I thought that this class, the final type of Great Western condensing locomotives to operate on the Metropolitan lines (until the introduction of the 97xx class in the 1930s), and therefore Basilica Fields, was going to be an easy one to deal with, after all, the books and articles I’ve seen detailing the GWR’s presence on the Metropolitan line write frugally, but broadly in agreement, upon their role on the goods service from Acton to Smithfield…but scratch the surface, and the reality is not quite so clear cut.

Built at Wolverhampton between November 1871 and April 1872, this class of twelve 0-6-0Ts were always Southern Division locos, and over the years some of the class were fitted with condensing equipment to work the Metropolitan lines.

What follows is a précis of the information in print:

They were the first six-coupled engines to be accepted for the Widened Lines, some twenty years in advance of the much larger and heavier Great Northern saddle tanks. Steam on the Widened Lines Vol.2 p.10. Geoff Goslin.

This implies the 633 were used on the Widened Lines from 1872 as the GNR 921 Series of saddle tanks were released to traffic in 1892. However, RCTS disagrees, and in its segment on the 2-4-0T Metro class, states:

The name of this class [the 2-4-0T Metro tanks] is derived from the engines’ association with the Metropolitan Railway, over which so many of them worked, they being the only GWR engines to do so during the latter part of the nineteenth century. RCTS The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway Part Six, p.F29.

With the absence of primary sources, if I had to choose between the two I’d plump for RCTS, although the Society’s publications are not infallible. However things now begin to get murky as RCTS also states:

Those with condensers were stationed in the London area for working over the Metropolitan line, whilst the non-condensing engines were mostly in South Wales, in the Neath Division. RCTS The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway Part Five, p.E34.

Condensing apparatus was fitted to 643/4 as built, but was removed from the latter in September 1884. RCTS The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway Part Five, p.E34.

There are discrepancies in the accounts of those fitted with condensers at this period, but it is fairly certain that Nos.633/4/41/42/43 were so fitted when rebuilt or shortly afterwards and remained so. RCTS The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway Part Five, p.E34.

The condensing engines remained without cabs until withdrawn in 1933-4. RCTS The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway Part Five, p.E34.

643 had always been a condensing engine. RCTS The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway Part Five, p.E34.

The implication of these quotes being that those fitted with condensers were allocated to the London Division only, all such locos being cabless for working through the Metropolitan tunnels, and those allocated to South Wales were fitted with cabs and did not carry condensers. However…

Surviving GWR Loco Allocation Registers only go back as far as 1902 (it has been suggested that possibly the 1902 one was the first such Register), and at the beginning of that year it is recorded that not one of the 633 class was allocated to the London Division, and (it would appear, if the RCTS opinion on the matter is to be believed) several of those in Wales were condenser fitted! Graham Beare saved me from too munching my way though too much paracetamol by sending the information in the following table (sorry for the slightly blurry image, please click for a clearer version), which collates info from both RCTS and the Register, followed by a suggestion as to which locos would be appropriate for Basilica Fields, post-1902:

N.B. * period of allocation indeterminate.

Graham writes:

In this instance, London Area means that an engine has been recorded as allocated to a shed within the London Division, examples noted include:- Paddington, Southall, Staines, Slough, Henley-on-Thames, Aylesbury, Watlington…. as far as I can see, there was no allocation to Reading, Didcot, Oxford. From this information, I suggest that the most likely candidates for your needs are 641, 642 and 643 which were Southall engines for most of the period from 1902 to 1906 and the most likely to be in charge of services over the widened lines.

The Registers are in the National Archive, and the 1902 Register can be found at RAIL 254 / 60. I’d like to thank John Lewis at this point for supplying digital copies of the relevant pages via Graham.

The photo of 642 is irresistible, and places it in London in pre-1906 livery, so spot on for the later period of Basilica Fields.

I’ve an old Mega (ex-Gateneal) kit of the 633 class, but I suspect that most of it will be binned – not necessarily because of any fault in the kit itself (though it is verybasic compared to modern offerings), but because it represents a much later version of the locos with different side tanks and enclosed cabs, and scratchbuilding looks increasingly likely.

This is the second instalment seeking to précis the Great Western Railway’s Metropolitan tanks on Middle Circle services. The first part dealt with a little history and the Medium-sized Metros, and here I’ll deal with the large-tank series.

In January 1899 the first of twenty new Metros was released to traffic with large 1100 gallon tanks. Volute springs replaced the leaf springs over the leading axleboxes due to space considerations, and following on from the previous Lot of Medium Metros in 1894, the new locos were all built with the dome on the back ring of the boiler. One month after the introduction of the larger tanks the first of thirty condensing Medium Metros was sent to Swindon to be given larger 1080 gallon tanks, and by the end of the year there was a total of fifty large condensing Metros in service for Inner London traffic.

The final decade of the 19th Century and the first six years of the 20th were the busiest for the condensing members of the class in the City; single-handedly they dealt with through services from the main line to Aldgate, the Middle Circle services from Mansion House via Earls Court, Addison Road, and Bishops Road to Aldgate, half the trains on the Hammersmith & City service to Aldgate via Bishops Road, and most trains on the Aldgate to Richmond via Bishops Road, Grove Road Junction and Gunnersbury, and of course the Extended Widened Lines Services to Basilica Fields.

From 1900 the Middle Circle service was cut back from Mansion House to Earls Court, and in 1905 trimmed again to Addison Road. Electrification of both the Circle and the Hammersmith & City in 1906 prompted the first withdrawals of the class, and stripped all bar six of their condensing apparatus. Limited services continued on the Extended Circle to Basilica Fields until 1913 when that line was electrified alongside the East London Railway.

No.1407 was released to traffic in June 1878 as a medium Metro to Lot 47. In June 1898 it was reboilered, given large tanks and volute springs, and is seen here sometime between 1898 and early 1906 stationed at Paddington. The loco is heavily stained and weathered from working in the Metropolitan tunnels, and shows that even the proud Great Western in the pre-Grouping era wasn’t as shiny and sparkly as many modellers presume.

Oops, I missed this class out from the first block of locos.

The 921s were Stirling’s final saddle tank design, and they first entered traffic at the end of 1892. Initially the class was intended to deal with the increasing goods and mineral traffic over the Widened Lines to and from the London, Chatham & Dover Railway over the Thames via Ludgate Hill and Blackfriars, and thus the first six (and later a floating total of approximately 25) of the domeless locos were fitted with condensing gear. Their success ensured the class multiplied to 52 in 1897, by which time they could be found on goods and shunting duties across the system.

The class will be active on EWL goods and mineral duties through Artillery Lane from and to both Kings Cross and Ludgate Hill to the docks and New Cross via Basilica Fields. 922, the second member of the class to be built is seen here in the late 1890s, with the evidence of cross-London transfer workings all around in the form of LC&DR wagons and tarpaulins.

The heavily weathered and stained paintwork once again lends credence to the argument that not all was sparkly and bright in the Victorian pre-Grouping period.

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