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British Railways inherited countless wooden bodied 12/13T mineral wagons to RCH design. But did any of the earlier smaller bodied designs (e.g. those produced by Slaters, Cambrian and Hornby) survive to nationalisation and receive the patch-paint branding that the RCH ones did? I have a vague feeling that some of these survived as far as WWII but I can find no photo evidence beyond that? Perhaps BR had a policy to scrap them?

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Many of the pre-RCH P.O. wagons would have grease lubricated axleboxes.  Finding out when these were 'outlawed' on the main line might give a clue as to date.  Just an idea.

Ray.

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30 minutes ago, t.s.meese said:

British Railways inherited countless wooden bodied 12/13T mineral wagons to RCH design. But did any of the earlier smaller bodied designs (e.g. those produced by Slaters, Cambrian and Hornby) survive to nationalisation and receive the patch-paint branding that the RCH ones did? I have a vague feeling that some of these survived as far as WWII but I can find no photo evidence beyond that? Perhaps BR had a policy to scrap them?

They may even have been replaced during the war; the Ministry of War Transport was having wagons built from before D-Day. David Larkin's Volume 2 of 'The Acquired Wagons of British Railways', which deals with steel-bodied wagons, has examples of wagons being ordered in penny numbers for small operators (e.g. Gann and Brown, of Whitstable, who had two wagons). Volume 3, dealing with timber-bodied wagons, should be available soon, which may throw more light on the question.

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1 hour ago, t.s.meese said:

British Railways inherited countless wooden bodied 12/13T mineral wagons to RCH design. But did any of the earlier smaller bodied designs (e.g. those produced by Slaters, Cambrian and Hornby) survive to nationalisation and receive the patch-paint branding that the RCH ones did?

I have italicised what I feel is central to this question.

 

Undoubtedly the last of them survived in traffic to be handed over to BR. The original Tatlow LNER wagons survey has a neat summary of that group's pre-group wagon numbers in 1940 and 1947. That shows very clearly what has happened, circa 16,000 of pre-group  origin under 12T capacity minerals in traffic in 1940; 2,500 in 1947, just 1% of that company's wagon fleet, so they are going to be pretty hard to spot. (Where they actually were is a very good question...)

 

And the withdrawal process is clearly running fast. So chance of any getting the BR patch paint probably vanishingly small. When they got any attention, it was likely terminal.

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1 hour ago, Marshall5 said:

Many of the pre-RCH P.O. wagons would have grease lubricated axleboxes.  Finding out when these were 'outlawed' on the main line might give a clue as to date.  Just an idea.

Ray.

Depends what you mean by "pre-RCH" ...... there were three RCH "Standards" - 1887, 1907 & 1923 : many of the latter ( where oil boxes were mandated ) survived into BR days and you'll find quite a few '1907' survivors if you trawl through the HMRS photos.

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2 hours ago, Fat Controller said:

They may even have been replaced during the war; the Ministry of War Transport was having wagons built from before D-Day. David Larkin's Volume 2 of 'The Acquired Wagons of British Railways', which deals with steel-bodied wagons, has examples of wagons being ordered in penny numbers for small operators (e.g. Gann and Brown, of Whitstable, who had two wagons). Volume 3, dealing with timber-bodied wagons, should be available soon, which may throw more light on the question.

Yes - I was hoping that vol 3 wooden might be helpful on the matter, but on reading web blurb find it is dedicated to the RCH 16'6" design. Whether that in itself is telling me something I am yet to find out. Oct 2020 for that release, but whether delayed by Covid...

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1 hour ago, Wickham Green too said:

Depends what you mean by "pre-RCH" ...... there were three RCH "Standards" - 1887, 1907 & 1923 : many of the latter ( where oil boxes were mandated ) survived into BR days and you'll find quite a few '1907' survivors if you trawl through the HMRS photos.

Did the 1907 survivors have their axel boxes changed to oil?

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A quick trawl through The 4mm Coal wagon revealed hardly any photos of RCH 1907 wagons with grease axleboxes carrying BR 'P' numbers, but there were some. However they were all 7 or 8 plank, 12/13 ton types.

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Posted (edited)

I'm afraid I don't have my copy of P. Tatlow, LNER Wagons Vol. 1 to hand but in the introduction he gives a handy table of the numbers of wagons belonging to each company at grouping, at nationalisation, and at a couple of dates  in between. He has a column for PO wagons; the number was around the 600,000 mark throughout. Fewer wagons were built to the RCH 1923 specification that to the RCH 1907 or earlier specifications, owing to the great depression. My understanding (and I welcome correction) is that fewer than half of the ex-PO wagons at nationalisation were to the RCH 1923 specification. Whilst many such wagons were withdrawn as quickly as possible, it has to be remembered that that wasn't all that quickly, as replacements had to be built.

 

I suspect that the lack of photographs of pre-RCH 1923 ex-POs may be down to bias in the record. Photographing old wagons probably wasn't high on anybody's list of priorities in the late 40s/early 50s when film was no doubt relatively expensive and hard to obtain; by the later 50s/early 60s, with disposable incomes rising and an awareness on the part of enthusiasts of how rapidly the railway scene was changing, there was probably more interest in recording old wagons. So, if pre-RCH 1923 wagons with grease axleboxes and lower capacity (typically 10 tons) were the first in line for withdrawal, fewer, relative to the 1923 wagons, would survive to be photographed. Just a theory!

Edited by Compound2632
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I obtained some Casserley  photos, taken in Berkhamsted yard - his local - either side of nationalisation but before renumbering. There are several of the small 5 plank Private trader wagons. Aren't they in Turton?

 

Paul

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3 hours ago, Compound2632 said:

........ Photographing old wagons probably wasn't high on anybody's list of priorities in the late 40s/early 50s .......

Unfortunately photographing any sort of wagon has rarely been high on  the priority list of all but a very few individuals.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Wickham Green too said:

Depends what you mean by "pre-RCH" ...... there were three RCH "Standards" - 1887, 1907 & 1923 : many of the latter ( where oil boxes were mandated ) survived into BR days and you'll find quite a few '1907' survivors if you trawl through the HMRS photos.

 

These standards were specifications, the minimum requirement that the RCH accepted before registering the wagons to run on main line railways, not actual standard designs, and applied only to newly constructed wagons after the relevant dates, so it might even have been possible that some 1887 standard wagons built in the years before 1907 would have still been extant in 1948.  BR never knew exactly how many mineral wagons it inherited, 'about' half a million, as none of the BIg 4 knew how many of those registered by private owners still existed, or where, or in some cases if the private owners still existed, or where...  BR, at it's inception, formed an 'Ideal Wagons Committee' to address the problem; many wagons, especially but not exclusively XPO minerals, were in a poor state of repair and unfit for purpose.  Repairs with odd bits of planking carried out at collieries or in marshalling yards to keep wagons in traffic were common, and the IWC's first task was to suggest the ordering of large numbers of steel 16ton minerals so that unfit wagons could be taken out of service, 

 

Along with sub-par general merchandise opens and vans, the wagons taken out of service were stored on disused branches, or the back roads of marshalling yards and storage sidings.  As a child, I lived near one such storage yard, Crwys Sidings in Cardiff on the Rhymney, which had a collection of stock that you'd give your eye teeth to see now, all visible from a lane at the back of some terraced houses.  Most were eventually disposed of by burning the bodies and selling the frames off for scrap, but it took a while and some were still there in the early 60s.  There were probably even some wooden framed vehicles, but of course these were simply burned and only the cast iron pieces scrapped,

 

So, yeah, 1907 spec and possibly some late 1887 spec, but not for long, and very unlikely to have been given BR 'P' numbers.  1907 spec doesn't mean built in 1907; wagons to this spec would have been still being built up to 1923, and 1923 standard spec up to the introduction of all-steel wagons in the 30s.  If you've got space on your layout, a rake of them on a back road mouldering away quietly would be acceptable up to certainly 1960.

Edited by The Johnster
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10 hours ago, The Johnster said:

 

These standards were specifications, the minimum requirement that the RCH accepted before registering the wagons to run on main line railways,

 

Just one point of clarification: inspection and registration was done by the railway companies themselves, not by the RCH: registration plates carried the registering company's initials. The register books survive for some but not all the pre-Grouping companies - GW, Midland, but not LNWR. Don't know about the grouping companies. 

 

The specifications became tighter: all RCH 1923 7-plank side end and bottom door wagons were well-nigh identical and had almost all components in common with the 7-plank side-door-only version, etc. - the aim being to simplify repairs though of course the repair shops still had to cater for RCH 1907 specification wagons, which had more variation in detail, and RCH 1887 specification wagons that were even more individualistic. That helps make modelling pre-1907 such fun - there are kits for Gloucester RC&WCo and Chas. Roberts wagons but after that one is pretty much left to one's own devices!

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11 hours ago, The Johnster said:

 

.......... 1907 spec doesn't mean built in 1907; wagons to this spec would have been still being built up to 1923, ........

Naturally the designs evolved and a wagon built in, say, 1922 can be difficult to distinguish from a '1923' vehicle : maybe different ( oil ) axleboxes or different buffers.

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22 hours ago, Compound2632 said:

 

Just one point of clarification: inspection and registration was done by the railway companies themselves, not by the RCH: registration plates carried the registering company's initials. The register books survive for some but not all the pre-Grouping companies - GW, Midland, but not LNWR. Don't know about the grouping companies. 

 

The specifications became tighter: all RCH 1923 7-plank side end and bottom door wagons were well-nigh identical and had almost all components in common with the 7-plank side-door-only version, etc. - the aim being to simplify repairs though of course the repair shops still had to cater for RCH 1907 specification wagons, which had more variation in detail, and RCH 1887 specification wagons that were even more individualistic. That helps make modelling pre-1907 such fun - there are kits for Gloucester RC&WCo and Chas. Roberts wagons but after that one is pretty much left to one's own devices!

There is a surprising amount of permitted room for variations just within the approved designs for the 1923 specification wagons. The important point is that whilst the specifications applied to all wagons built for private owners and intended to run on the main line railways, the approved designs did not. They simply represent designs that, if followed, will require no further approval from the RCH other than the final inspection to confirm that the wagon has been properly built to the design. A wagon could be built to any design and still be accepted for registration provided that it had obtained prior approval from the RCH wagons committee, on which the main line railways were represented. A case in point would be the Charles Roberts designed 14T slope sided steel body mineral wagon, which does not feature in the RCH "standard" drawings.

 

Jim

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1 minute ago, jim.snowdon said:

RCH wagons committee, on which the main line railways were represented.

 

I'm trying to learn more about this. My understanding is that the RCH Wagon Committee was composed of Carriage & Wagon Superintendents (or perhaps members of their staff) from the principal companies. The Chair of the Committee at the time the 1887 specification was drawn up was T.G. Clayton of the Midland - the company with the largest mineral traffic.

 

Who made the drawings? Did the RCH have any permanent technical staff in this area? Or did they just provide administrative support?

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Posted (edited)

"Scottish Railways - Two Decades of Transition" by Donald Peddie has a photo of a NBR mineral with 'hoop' end door (similar to the Oxford version) in use at Carronshore/South Alloa in 1949 complete with grease axleboxes and mentions that "several venerable ex NBR wagons were still in use" there. 

 

Another photo in the same book of an HR Clan at St Rollox in 1950 shows the end of another grease axlebox wagon, 5 plank with "WREXHAM" visible on one plank in use for ash collection by the look of it. 

Edited by Wheatley
Fat fingers

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38 minutes ago, Compound2632 said:

 

I'm trying to learn more about this. My understanding is that the RCH Wagon Committee was composed of Carriage & Wagon Superintendents (or perhaps members of their staff) from the principal companies. The Chair of the Committee at the time the 1887 specification was drawn up was T.G. Clayton of the Midland - the company with the largest mineral traffic.

 

Who made the drawings? Did the RCH have any permanent technical staff in this area? Or did they just provide administrative support?

I believe that you are correct as rages the composition of the Committee, although I would expect that like many of these committees, there were several levels on which it operates. The top level committee would have included the C&W Superintendents, although in pre-Group days I do not suppose that every railway company was individually represented  - there would be just too many members to manage. Because of the realities of this type of work, I would expect that they would have supported by a staff drawn, probably, from the railway companies, with a fair number of those staff working in their home offices, rather than the RCH offices in London. 

 

When it comes to the drawings, I think the bulk of the work was probably done by staff working in railway drawing offices, but that the final printed drawings were prepared by either the RCH itself or by the printers. The drawings that went out to the industry were printed, as against being copied from a master, and display a high degree of consistency in their style (much as do all the drawings that appear in the likes of The Engineer and other publications). That would not have required technical staff as such, but a body of tracers (who were a normal part of the support for any drawing office, as the people who turned the efforts of the draftsmen into the production drawings).

 

 The RCH is something of a Cinderella organisation in the greater history of the railways. Essential to their functioning as a network, yet barely covered in the printed history of the railways. I know of only one book on the RCH.

 

Jim

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On 01/08/2020 at 11:12, t.s.meese said:

British Railways inherited countless wooden bodied 12/13T mineral wagons to RCH design. But did any of the earlier smaller bodied designs (e.g. those produced by Slaters, Cambrian and Hornby) survive to nationalisation and receive the patch-paint branding that the RCH ones did? I have a vague feeling that some of these survived as far as WWII but I can find no photo evidence beyond that? Perhaps BR had a policy to scrap them?

David Larkin’s The Acquired Wagons of British Railways Volume 1 - Fleet Composition and Brake Vans has a photo of an 8T mineral wagon and three photos of 10T mineral wagons (also three photos of RCH 1907-spec 12T mineral wagons), all with ‘P’ numbers.  Sadly, none of these views are dated.  Excellent book, nonetheless.

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There were plenty of railways staff about in the late 1940s and early 1950s who were more than familiar with vagaries of grease axlebox wagons in Post-War years including into nationalisation.  In  1951 and 1954 grease axlebox wagons were included in various revised and new Instructions in respect of freight train distances allowed to be run between examinations which suggests there were probably still some about at that time.  Those Instructions were next fully reissued, without reference to grease 'boxes, in 1958 although I can't find a date reference for the origin of that change.  So implication of all that is that grease axlebox wagons were definitely running in early BR days and might well have lasted in traffic to the mid 1950s - no doubt being replaced by new build 16T all steel wagons.

 

By early 1974 the oldest wagon which had so far been entered on TOPS records had been built in 1898 (but obviously had oil 'boxes).

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6 hours ago, The Stationmaster said:

....... So implication of all that is that grease axlebox wagons were definitely running in early BR days and might well have lasted in traffic to the mid 1950s ........

Ironically, oil-lubricated rolling stock is now very much in the minority !

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On 06/08/2020 at 13:34, The Stationmaster said:

 

By early 1974 the oldest wagon which had so far been entered on TOPS records had been built in 1898 (but obviously had oil 'boxes).

A number of ‘specialist’ wagons, bogie weltrols and the like, were built like battleships and ran relatively low mileages, thus lasted a very long time in traffic, as dis some ‘Iron Minks’.  You wouldn’t know what this 1974 survivor was by any chance, would you, Mike?

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18 hours ago, The Johnster said:

A number of ‘specialist’ wagons, bogie weltrols and the like, were built like battleships and ran relatively low mileages, thus lasted a very long time in traffic, as dis some ‘Iron Minks’.  You wouldn’t know what this 1974 survivor was by any chance, would you, Mike?

All I know is that it was ex Midland railway (or rather i was told it was ex MR) and was a departmental vehicle of some sort.  It had been found in the Rolling Stock Library when it was used as a source before much outdoor number entry had taken place..

 

As Paul has kindly illustrated they were still other pre-1900 vehicles about at that time alythough my sole exoerience of having one run on the mainline (a GWR hand crane) in 1975 was that it needed some very loving attention and frequent topping up of the oil boxes in order to move it three miles.  However as it had barely moved for a long time I would think the pads were pretty well compressed hence the high rate of oil use.

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29 minutes ago, The Stationmaster said:

All I know is that it was ex Midland railway (or rather i was told it was ex MR) and was a departmental vehicle of some sort. 

 

Looking at the Lot list, it's most likely to have been a crane match wagon but probably not one of the longer variety built for the Cowans Sheldon 15 ton steam cranes of 1893 as (a) I think those would have 1893 builders plates and (b) those cranes were all withdrawn in the 60s. I don't suppose the pre-TOPS number is known?

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