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AndrewG

Banana/Fruit Traffic 40's/50's/60's

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Evening All,

 

Looking for a bit of advice or pointing in the right direction. Hopefully I've posted this in the right section of the site?

 

Relative newcomer here, been watching silently for a while, waiting for the inspiration to get back in to the hobby again.....

 

From what I understand, within the 40's/50's a decent amount of incoming banana/fruit goods came from abroad via boat to the UK, and was then moved onwards from docks via rail. I'm considering the merits of modelling a small diorama/cameo of the dock/loading scene.

 

Google hasn't really turned up much by the way of information about this process, the buildings/facilities involved or locomotives that would be present.

 

For what its worth, I'm more of a builder than an operator, so its more the buildings/infrastructure that I'm looking for advice on.

 

Thanks in advance. Cheers.

Canary Wharf Bananas.jpg

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Hi,

Banana boats were fast ocean going cargo liners varying in size but 350 to 450ft long and 5000 to 6500GRT would be typical.  United Fruits dominated the trade to the UK.  I read somewhere how many Fruit Bs would be filled by a ship but I cant remember where, iirc it was in the mid hundreds.   A quick and dirty estimate using 1 grt equals 100 cu ft and volume of 800 cu ft per van gives six to eight hundred.  

In the 30s the derricks of the ship would be used to load and unload cargo nets onto the wharf but banana might be bruised if handled like that.

There is a short news video of the first postwar bananas arriving in the uk - 'yes we have some bananas'.

Banana boats might be refrigerated esp into 50s but the vans were heated hence steam banana vans in video and the insulated vans in your image.  I dont know anything about NE vans.  I dont think the fruit was in general warehoused in the dock but was loaded directly to vans and heated enroute so it was ripe at destination.

The fruit offered to the mayor would be green if it was straight out of a cargo hold.

Paul

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I understand that the bananas were typically moved from the dockside quickly and then put into ripening rooms near the point where they would be sold. For example, there was a ripening room in the goods depot at Moor street, Birmingham.

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It was my understanding that Fyffes bananas came off the boat already packed in boxes at the point of origin for ease of loading and unloading, both on the ship and train but I stand to be corrected.

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2 hours ago, GWR_Modeller said:

Banana boats might be refrigerated esp into 50s but the vans were heated hence steam banana vans in video and the insulated vans in your image.  I dont know anything about NE vans. 

 

I don't think the vans pictured are insulated as those were generally white. They're pre-war by the livery with large 'NE' lettering on the sides, small lettering, with the number, in the bottom left corner was used from about 1937.

As you said, bananas were carried in steam heated vans to ripen them for destination, so when loaded would need hauling by a suitably equipped loco and be marshaled immediately behind the loco or in a block train

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Bananas and the direct connection from Avonmouth Docks to London was one of the reasons for the building of the Badminton cutoff.  BR livery for Banana Vans was bauxite as they were vacuum brake fitted, and of course steam heated.  AFAIK they were not insulated as such, but were not ventilated at all.  In the 1960s Barry in South Wales imported 'Geest' bananas, but the company moved to Avonmouth in, I think, 1970.  

 

Locos on the WR in the 60s (and presumably the 50s as well) were typically Halls, replaced by Hymeks.  Bananas were also imported through Southampton, Tilbury, Liverpool, and Glasgow.  

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6 hours ago, Ken.W said:

 

I don't think the vans pictured are insulated as those were generally white. They're pre-war by the livery with large 'NE' lettering on the sides, small lettering, with the number, in the bottom left corner was used from about 1937.

As you said, bananas were carried in steam heated vans to ripen them for destination, so when loaded would need hauling by a suitably equipped loco and be marshaled immediately behind the loco or in a block train

 

Ok.  It was just my assumption the vans in the image were insulated because of what looked like thick doors and the vertical placking with no outside framing.

 

The insulation and heating of banana vans was not to keep them cool but to prevent frost damage and to aid ripening en route.  I  suppose once ripened near major disribution centres they would have been moved locally and in the summer in ordinary vans without harm.

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There was a Banana Shed at Lingfield used into the 70's 

 

Keith 

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9 hours ago, jools1959 said:

It was my understanding that Fyffes bananas came off the boat already packed in boxes at the point of origin for ease of loading and unloading, both on the ship and train but I stand to be corrected.

Often containing big hairy stowaways!

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6 hours ago, The Johnster said:

Bananas and the direct connection from Avonmouth Docks to London was one of the reasons for the building of the Badminton cutoff.  BR livery for Banana Vans was bauxite as they were vacuum brake fitted, and of course steam heated.  AFAIK they were not insulated as such, but were not ventilated at all.  In the 1960s Barry in South Wales imported 'Geest' bananas, but the company moved to Avonmouth in, I think, 1970.  

 

Locos on the WR in the 60s (and presumably the 50s as well) were typically Halls, replaced by Hymeks.  Bananas were also imported through Southampton, Tilbury, Liverpool, and Glasgow.  

The arrival of bananas at Liverpool was the reason that some ex-LNWR Super Ds were fitted with steam heat at the tender end. As an aside, these same Super Ds were sometimes employed to steam heat the royal train when it was stabled overnight in the east curve siding at Parkside in visits to the North west..

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Whilst most banana-ripening warehouses would be in urban areas, there were some oddities. There were depots at Warminster and Barnstaple, for example. Steam- heating of the vans ceased sometimes in the late 1950s, with the last couple of lots of planked vans, and the plywood-bodied BR Standard ones not being built with steam pipes.

The later-built vans seem to have had 4" of insulation, according to the wagon Diagram (1/243 and subsequent).

 

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8 hours ago, The Johnster said:

Bananas and the direct connection from Avonmouth Docks to London was one of the reasons for the building of the Badminton cutoff.  BR livery for Banana Vans was bauxite as they were vacuum brake fitted, and of course steam heated.  AFAIK they were not insulated as such, but were not ventilated at all.  In the 1960s Barry in South Wales imported 'Geest' bananas, but the company moved to Avonmouth in, I think, 1970.  

 

Locos on the WR in the 60s (and presumably the 50s as well) were typically Halls, replaced by Hymeks.  Bananas were also imported through Southampton, Tilbury, Liverpool, and Glasgow.  

Geest left Barry a bit later than 1970 as I used to go down to Barry Docks of an evening to watch and phot the arriving banana boat coming in through the lock and that would be as late as 1972/73.

 

You'll find my pictures of a steam worked WR banana train on this page -

https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/67059-the-stationmaster-goes-train-spotting-part-2/

 

And a diesel hauled one from Barry passing Cardiff General part way down this page -

https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/66924-the-stationmaster-goes-train-spotting-part-1/&/topic/66924-the-stationmaster-goes-train-spotting-part-1/?hl=%2Bths%2B%2Bstationmaster%2B%2Bgoes%2B%2Btrain%2B%2Bspotting

 

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4 hours ago, KeithHC said:

There was a Banana Shed at Lingfield used into the 70's 

 

Keith 

05.15 from Norwood Down Yard was the daily working. 

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The GER Dia 72 van formed the basis of 100 8-ton AVB fitted, steam heated, and insulated banana vans delivered to the LNER in 1923. The vans were loaned to the Southern and there is a photo of them at Worting Junction with the “NE” being replaced by “SR”. In 1958, out of the 100 vehicles built, 85 were still in stock. See GERS Journal 61 article.

 

Further banana vans were required for the Jamaican banana imports through London Docks and built by the LNER in 1929/30. See LNER wagons.

 

On 1st March 1962 Geest opened a factory at Easton Lodge on the Braintree branch, for the import of green bananas, and amounted to 300tons of unripe fruit weekly. see Branch Lines to Braintree CP Lombardelli

 

Paul

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13 minutes ago, Oldddudders said:

05.15 from Norwood Down Yard was the daily working. 

 

Thanks Oldddudders also the Saturday working up to 1967 returned via East Grinstead and Three Bridges. Which means I can have Banana Vans going through my proposed model of Rowfant. 

 

Keith

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Thanks to all those that have replied, its much appreciated.

 

I've got a few decent leads to look in to it would appear. Thanks.

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And heres a train of banana vans at Abbotswood Junction courtesy of Brian Thomas....interesting power and definitely no steam heat!

 

 

290 (2).jpg

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1 hour ago, Phil Bullock said:

And heres a train of banana vans at Abbotswood Junction courtesy of Brian Thomas....interesting power and definitely no steam heat!

 

 

290 (2).jpg

Hi Phil

 

As Brian has already mentioned in the late 50s ripening on the trains had been stopped and BR standard banana vans were insulated but not steam heated. There was a change to ripening process which was started on board the ship just before docking hence keeping the bananas at a constant temperature from dock to shed was more important than warming them up to ripen.

 

The best tasting bananas I ever had were fresh off the tree outside the guard room at Rideau Camp, Punta Gorda, Belize.  

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On 10/11/2019 at 08:26, GWR_Modeller said:

 

Ok.  It was just my assumption the vans in the image were insulated because of what looked like thick doors and the vertical placking with no outside framing.

 

The insulation and heating of banana vans was not to keep them cool but to prevent frost damage and to aid ripening en route.  I  suppose once ripened near major disribution centres they would have been moved locally and in the summer in ordinary vans without harm.

The vans in the image are definitely proper banana vans as yer run o' the mill LNER goods van had sliding doors : these would probably have had steam pipes in the ceiling - not the best place - and the insulation was to keep whatever warmth circulated downwards in the van. Distribution from the ripening centres would, indeed, have been in ordinary vans - probably the products of Morris, Ford & Commer. ( ordinary then - collectors pieces now )

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On 10/11/2019 at 12:25, The Stationmaster said:

Geest left Barry a bit later than 1970 as I used to go down to Barry Docks of an evening to watch and phot the arriving banana boat coming in through the lock and that would be as late as 1972/73.

 

Quite a bit later, they had a short trial at Avonmouth around 1982, finally moving operations to Southampton in 1993.

 

 

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I'm guessing that my two banana vans are not really very realistic - what sort of number of banana vans are more likely and would it be a complete block train or part of a longer mixed train? I model late 40s GW.

Thanks in advance

Will

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Late50s and early 60s: Fyffes to Exeter Central from Southampton. Dedicated, fully fitted trains of proper banana vans.

I don't remember them being bright yellow.....!

Often Nelson turns (Eastleigh Loco) in 1960/61. I have records of three trains in one day with two being Nelsons...1961 I think it was.

Exeter Central Up Yard had a special Fyffes Depot for ripening and distribution.

Phil

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