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The intention is to consider how many “foreign” wagons you might find in a pre-grouping freight train or in the yard.  There are few sources of written information available, and they, inevitably, represent a partial snapshot of what really happened.  Unfortunately, early photographers seldom turned their lenses towards even goods locos, let alone focussing on the wagons or yards, so we are often resorting to blurred background views or short snippets of early film to glean a bit more information.

Although this is a subject that has probably come up in the past, recently it has reared its head in two current threads, slightly off-topic, and neither of them have a title that is particularly pertinent:- “Illiterate symbols” https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/158859-“illiterate-“symbols/page/3/&tab=comments#comment-4168018 and “More pre-grouping wagons….” https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/113035-more-pre-grouping-wagons-in-4mm-the-d299-appreciation-thread/&do=findComment&comment=4165498

As there is so little information out there, I thought it would make sense to consolidate some of the discussions, so far, into one, explicit, thread, add a few extra items, and, hopefully, unearth some new nuggets in the process.  With any luck, Stephen Lea (Compound2632) (others are equally welcome) will be making his own contributions, distilling his knowledge from various sources.  Please feel free to comment and educate.

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Sheffield Park - Part 1

 

To kick things off, I thought I'd repeat the information compiled by Jonathan Abson of the Brighton Circle, using the Sheffield Park Goods Registers for a four month period at the turn of the century.

image.png.23cb256713ea98994a2729ce5f6ef3b3.png

It should be noted that there was a timber sawmill and a dairy at the station, the former accounting for the number of bolster wagons being present. The distribution of PO traders is also interesting, with few locally based companies, and a detailed discussion of the sources can be found in Len Tavender's Coal Trade Wagons. It should be noted that the period covered was late autumn and winter, and patterns of traffic during the summer might be significantly different.

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Sheffield Park - 2

Klaus Marx, in his book on the Lewes & East Grinstead Railway, fleshed out some of the details of the traffic at the station in pre-grouping days, hinting at some of the summer-time traffic.

To simplify matters it will best serve the purpose if the remaining types of goods are classified as either in-coming or out-going. Of the latter, fruit produce was probably the most important asset. Large quantities of gooseberries originated from Chelwood Gate, two to three tons daily were in the early 1920s loaded on to the 6.3pm up train, which was allowed a five-minute wait.  Other loads went to Brighton and Eastbourne.  Farm produce came next, with a brisk cattle traffic, horseboxes in regular use, and on special occasions cattle trains were run to Lewes, Eastbourne and Hastings. Pigs sent every Monday to Lewes market on the 10.3am train were another regular feature.  Of hay, seven or eight trucks would go out of a day if the harvest had been good, Nightingales of Crawley and Lillicos of Croydon having large consignments.  The procedure was for hay to be cut out of the stack on the farm and tied up in trusses, which were loaded on rail. Maize, grain and dairy cake came from Newnhams of Danehill, and a steady flow of bean and pea sticks and particularly hop poles was sent through the railway by Ben Newman, a local woodman.  As late as 1942 a new concern, Passavants & Co, dealing in rabbit skins, set up at the river end of the timber yard and sent its unusual cargo by rail. For a brief period from 1949 to 1952 the Sheffield Park Estate grew sugar beet. This was loaded from the dock adjoining the down platform and was probably the last outward traffic in full truckloads from Sheffield Park.

The incoming goods presented an even odder assortment.  Building materials, very difficult to transport by road, arrived for the East Sussex local councils and contractors; flints from Portslade and Midsomer  Norton, roadstone (Kentish rag) from Maidstone, road granite and bricks from the Midlands came by the truckful. Tools of all kinds came in for the farmers, who also ordered manure in bulk for their strawberry crops. Thirty-two bags of flour came in a day for Newnhams.

Livestock traffic was seasonal. At the end of September and staying the winter till March, would come 30 to 40 trucks of young sheep from Romney Marsh in Kent, sent inland to keep for the winter when the marsh was too wet. Cattle arrived from Scotland too. Cattle wagons turned up liberally covered in lime, which was the only effective form of disinfectant. Cleaning them out was a messy and unpopular job, often deferred when it should have been carried out every time the vehicles were emptied. Cattle feeding stuffs and oil cakes arrived by rail, coal regularly of course; and one or two gigantic blocks of salt arrived to keep the neighbourhood well stocked each year, an arrangement which continued till about 1930. In the pre-1914 period the goods yard was often full to capacity and there were times when no wagons could be accepted straightaway.

Sheffield Park was also the carrier centre for a wide area stretching as far as Nutley and Chelwood Gate.  The local merchants provided their own carriers, Joe Martin for Fletching, A. H. Rayward for Turners Green, George Martin for Chailey, Simeon Wickens for Danehill and T. W. Freelands for Nutley, to mention only a few well-known local tradesmen of their day who drew their goods straight out of the yard. One who was permanently ensconced there was W. Stevenson of Fletching, who ran a coal business and had a wharf at the station up by the crane. At the time of the Grouping, Sheffield Park was still receiving three loaded coal wagons a week.  There also used to be a covered goods shed, north of the cattle bay. The date of its removal is not certain.

 

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There's a famous photograph of a Midland Railway goods yard (possibly Birmingham) with loads of wagons viewable. I think there are about five MR ones. The rest are a total mishmash of wagons from all over.

 

I think it's in the Midland Wagons books. Found it.

 

https://www.warwickshirerailways.com/lms/mrcgy915.htm

 

More here.

 

https://www.warwickshirerailways.com/lms/centralgoods.htm

 

 

Jason

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Crewe Tranship Shed

In Talbot's LNWR Recalled there are details of the wagons that were in the shed on one particular day, close to Christmas.

image.png.aff13258a7edde9b51c01b097b9bd367.png

It shows that over 60% of the wagons were owned by the LNWR or its new partner, the L&YR, and a further 20% came from two companies that ran direct services to Crewe, leaving around 15% of "foreign" wagons, even after some five years of common user working. 

It must be considered, though, that the wagons coming into the shed were loaded with part loads, to be unloaded for re-despatching to their final destination, and all coal and other mineral traffic is excluded.  Whether wagons with full loads for a single destination would be routed through the shed seems unlikely, but we can only assume that the proportions would remain roughly the same. 

As with Sheffield Park, it is clear that wagons from fairly remote companies could appear, but the common user arrangement will have increased their likelihood. In 1922 it would seem like 15% of non-mineral traffic wagons were foreign, whereas in Sussex, before pooling, the figure was more like 5%, once you exclude the ever-present Midland coal wagons. It must be remembered that there were around 700,000 private traders wagons, plus the Midland's contribution, which equalled the total number of company owned wagons.

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The thing is, whatever research you do will apply reasonably accurately to a specific location at that particular time of the year, maybe even a specific line, but not really be generalisable to anywhere else.

Edited by Regularity
Time as well as space.
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In pre-grouping times A lot of goods trains missed the camera because they ran at night particularly fast through trains. The vacuum fitted stock would have been almost exclusively from the named company such as the LNWR and would have avoided the transship shed being fully laden at source. 

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3 hours ago, Regularity said:

The thing is, whatever research you do will apply reasonably accurately to a specific location at that particular time of the year, maybe even a specific line, but not really be generalisable to anywhere else.

This point is very well made. Different parts of our group of nations would generate very different traffic, the different railway companies, districts or divisions of that railway all the way down to different lines and even individual stations. Seasonal traffic and market days will have a major impact on the flow of goods. I think the point for modellers would be to do the research on what traffic you are trying to represent and then work back from there.

 

A topic that has been highlighted on one of the other threads is that prior to the pooling of wagons there would be a considerable traffic in foreign empty wagons being moved off the property. This is something that we ought to consider more fully when we think about wagon numbers in our fleet.

 

John

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3 hours ago, Nick Holliday said:

Sheffield Park - Part 1

 

To kick things off, I thought I'd repeat the information compiled by Jonathan Abson of the Brighton Circle, using the Sheffield Park Goods Registers for a four month period at the turn of the century.

image.png.23cb256713ea98994a2729ce5f6ef3b3.png

It should be noted that there was a timber sawmill and a dairy at the station, the former accounting for the number of bolster wagons being present. The distribution of PO traders is also interesting, with few locally based companies, and a detailed discussion of the sources can be found in Len Tavender's Coal Trade Wagons. It should be noted that the period covered was late autumn and winter, and patterns of traffic during the summer might be significantly different.

 

That is one of the most useful pieces of information I have seen on the subject. Thank you. This is not least because it is pre-pooling; foreign wagons were seen, but relatively rare and only for good reason.

 

While hard to generalise, as different locations will see different mixes depending on a variety of factors.

 

It does bear out several of the rules of thumb I've been working to based on looking at as many pictures of pre-Great War goods trains as I can find:

 

- Home company wagons are overwhelmingly the majority, here seen as getting on for 90%

 

- Approx 50% of general merchandise opens will be sheeted

 

- There will always be a MR D299 5-plank somewhere in the non-MR yard or your non-MR train!

 

- POs in many/most trains/places are rarer than one might think. Hitherto I was working on the basis of 2 in a, say, 20-wagon train, with 2 foreign company wagons (so 16 home wagons).  That might seem a reasonable compromise rule of thumb, though based on the table, that might go down to 1 of each.

 

- Very few covered wagons - I was working on 1 covered to 5 opens (from the home company) but for 1900,even that looks too generous.

 

- There will be some foreign wagons, not necessarily from neighbours, as they can be quite far flung (though thought should probably be given to a reason why a particular company's wagon has travelled a great distance to a foreign station).  Also, the proportion of covered wagons from other railways may be proportionately higher, as the traffic may be more likely to be special.

 

Fascinating tables and well worth further study.   

 

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I see Penlan beat me to it.  I was just about to re-post the 1920 Bristol Docks sheet, as it is an important part of the available information. Despite that, I'll repeat it to try to get everything in one place.

1854789561_Bristol1920Penlan.jpg.e184b9e302a3532e83501cf130a5e5f9.jpg

In an attempt to make things clearer, I have consolidated the figures, shown in the first two columns of figures, and added some overall figures to try to put things in context.

If we accept that the GWR and the Midland are the home teams, then they have 50% of the wagons, with 50% being "foreign".  From various sources I have obtained values for the total number of wagons the main companies owned around the same time, together with the track mileages for each. Although there is no direct relationship between mileage and wagons, per se, there is a surprising degree of correlation between them, if you take certain factors into account.  For many of the lines in central England, the two percentages are very similar, and it is only the mainly non-industrial, passenger orientated, areas in the south, the Southern constituents, GWR and GER, where the mileage percentage is higher than, being almost double. There are four anomalies.  The North Eastern is well known for having very few private trader wagons on the system, supplying coal for domestic and industrial purposes in its own wagons, but to a lesser extent that applies to the Midland, Caledonian and North British too, who, for various reasons, bought large numbers of old PO wagons and provided new railway owned wagons to replace them. I'm sure @Compound2632 will have something to say about the Midland's activities, and I hope to cover the Scottish approach too.

 

image.png.6238ac09d52e4c6fc7ed8cdfe8c8dbef.png

One minor surprise in the above is the extent of LNWR wagons involved. As far as I can see the nearest North Western metals are at either Abergavenny or Hereford, coming down the Central Wales line from Shrewsbury.  The figures for the NER are also relatively high, but given the amount of stock they owned, perhaps to be expected.

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34 minutes ago, Nick Holliday said:

One minor surprise in the above is the extent of LNWR wagons involved. As far as I can see the nearest North Western metals are at either Abergavenny or Hereford,

Given the LNWR covered both Manchester and Liverpool it would not be surprising that it sent wagons to another major City such as Bristol.  The GWR also had a presence in Manchester and Crewe so the wagons may well have come down on GWR goods trains. Having looked at the North to West timetables, I can see no LNWR named goods trains destined for Bristol but some GWR for example: 8.25 p.m. G.W. Manchester & Bristol Vacuum Goods.   (This train also carried the station trucks from Chester and Shrewsbury to Bristol). The Central Wales line ran to Swansea.  The LNWR also ran throughout South Wales to Newport and Merthyr via Abergavenny Junction so goods may well have been sent to Bristol too from those locations; transferred to GWR trains at Pontypool Road.

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Edwardian

The 1:5 van to open wagon number is probably not far off for those companies with an indigenous coal or other mineral supply within their network - indeed 1:6 might be closer.  However the HMRS did an analysis of a few companies and the GER and LBSCR had a ratio of around 1:3.5.  LSWR was around 1:5 with its access to several mineral producers.  [HMRS Journal January 1992]  

 

Regarding a significant number of empties being returned, it clearly depends on which route and from where.  There would likely be a major return of empties from big cities back to the wagons home territory, but on more minor lines there may be very few indeed.  Also to be clear the empties are returned directly back to their owner.   You will not find empty SECR wagons on a Bristol - Midlands train.

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We need to be very clear whether we're interested in the pre-Great War period, before the pooling of a high proportion of opens and vans and before the various inter-company working agreements - notably LNW / Midland of 1908 onwards and GN / GE / GC from (1913?) - or the post-Great war period. Things look very different:

Birmingham Central Goods Station mid-1890s

Birmingham Central Goods Station 1920

Somebody on Wright Writes some months back expressed a distaste for the boring uniformity of the pre-Grouping period - showing that they had grasped the fundamental principle!

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7 hours ago, Compound2632 said:

 

Somebody on Wright Writes some months back expressed a distaste for the boring uniformity of the pre-Grouping period - showing that they had grasped the fundamental principle!

 

Well, if you will go there.

 

Right Rants, I call it. 

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I'm reposting and lightly editing a couple of posts from my wagon-building topic that Nick linked to, looking at the Sheffield Park data. Whilst there's not enough other information around to be vey confident of how typical this data is, we have to grasp it with both hands as providing a very rare glimpse into the situation at a small station in the South of England in the pre-pooling period, from a primary source:

 

Tavender’s book [L. Tavender, Coal Trade Wagons (L. Tavender, 1991) N707] includes an analysis of points of origin of coal and coke traffic received at Sheffield Park, an obscure wayside station on a minor branch of the LB&SCR in deepest Sussex. This draws on an article by Jonathan Abson in the Brighton Circle’s magazine of some date before April 1990. The data is from the station’s goods register and covers the four months in the winter of 1899/1900, 30 Nov – 31 Mar and was posted by Nick above:

According to the 1904 edition of the RCH Handbook of Railway Stations (reprinted by David & Charles, 1970), Sheffield Park could handle the full range of passenger and goods traffic, including a crane of 5 ton capacity. The 1898 OS 25” survey shows a loading bank with a siding either side, one of which look as if it could be used for end unloading of wheeled vehicles. There’s also a stub siding end-on to the bank, which might also be for end loading, but this 1963 photo shows the end of the bank occupied by a cattle pen. There were a pair of longer sidings, which would be used for coal and presumably other bulky traffic that could be unloaded directly into a cart, such as hay. On the opposite side of the line were sidings serving a sawmill and the Mid Sussex Creamery.

 

As far as coal traffic is concerned, Sheffield Park received 54 wagons of coal and six of coke in this period. Assuming a half-and-half mix of 8 ton and 10 ton wagons and that this four-month winter period accounts for about half of the district’s consumption, that equates to about 1,000 tons of coal per year. Taking an estimate of one ton of domestic coal per head of population per year, and assuming that there was no significant coal-consuming industry served, that would imply that the station was supplying a population of around 1,000. That is about the same as the population of the Fletching Civil Parish at the 2011 census, so seems to me improbably high, especially as the rural poor of Sussex probably had access to other, cheaper sources of fuel than coal such as under-wood from managed woodland. (An alternative analysis using an average of 1 cwt per week per household gives 400 households; I don't now think the population of 1,000 is an over-estimate; compared to the number of households, it might be a reasonable figure for the adult population.)

 

Of the coal wagons, 25 were PO wagons, to which I will return. Eleven were Midland, which Tavender presumes originated from Toton, or at least came via there. He gives the numbers, which are all plausible enough for D299 wagons, although some could be the D351 end-door equivalent. As @Crimson Rambler has demonstrated, even at this date some could be dumb buffered ex-PO wagons. Nine were LNWR, Tavender presuming these came from Walsall, i.e. the Cannock Chase coalfield, though there were plenty of other possibilities, as has been mentioned in this thread recently. At this date, these are almost certainly D53 traffic coal wagons, like the Midland D299 of 8 ton capacity, the programme of rebuilding to the D54 10 ton version not starting until a couple of years later. Six were Great Northern, presumed from Doncaster. Of these, five have numbers with a 0 prefix, indicating that they were wagons hired by the GN. There was one wagon from the Great Central and one from the North Staffordshire. As far as I can collect from G.F. Chadwick, North Staffordshire Wagons (Wild Swan. 1993) at this date the Knotty had no high sided mineral wagons, the bulk of its open wagon stock consisting of 1-plank and 2-plank fixed-side wagons and 3-plank dropside wagons, but there were some 3-plank wagons with side doors, 2’3” deep with curved raised ends, which might have been used for coal traffic. There was a solitary LBSC wagon, received from Deptford Wharf – coal ultimately from Newcastle, perhaps.

 

Of the PO wagons, two were operated by a local coal merchant – G. Newington & Co. of Lewis – and five by London factors, including such well-known names as Parry and Rickett. The remainder were colliery wagons. Two from Stockingford in the Warwickshire coalfield, one from Cannock & Rugeley Collieries and three from Pelsall Colliery, in the Cannock Chase coalfield, eight from collieries in Derbys / Notts / South Yorks, including three from Staveley, one from Talk o’ the Hill, near Newcastle-under-Lyme, one from the Wigan Coal & Iron Co – the most distant location – and a solitary Welsh wagon, Cardiff Navigation.

 

We’ve “spotted” a Pelsall wagon heading up to Willesden behind a Coal Engine at Bushey in 1897 and, thanks to @Crimson Rambler, a Talk o’ the Hill wagon heading home down the Midland main line at Wellingborough in 1898, so it all hangs together! [See posts in my wagon building thread.]

 

The coke traffic was mostly local, from Tunbridge Wells, Eastbourne, and Portslade – all places with gas works. Three of the five LBSC wagons involved can be identified exactly: Nos. 8825 and 8881 were steel-framed 10 ton Open As from the batch built by Birmingham RC&W Co. in 1897, SR diagram 1371, while No. 9984 was a 6-plank mineral wagon of 10 ton capacity from a batch built by Ashbury in 1898, SR diagram 1372 [G. Bixley et al., Southern Wagons Vol. 2 (OPC, 1985)]. These were, as far as I can work out, the earliest LBSCR wagons built specifically for mineral traffic, so the other wagons (including the one bringing coal from Deptford Wharf) were probably older Open As or possibly Open Ds. There is one solitary Midland wagon bringing coke. This could be a D342 coke wagon, if it was a full 8 ton load. We’ve seen from the Bushey and Wellingborough trains that despite the availability of coke from local gasworks, there was some demand in London or south of the Thames for coke from midlands suppliers, perhaps because it had specific properties. But it’s hard to see what the demand for such would be in a rural area such as that served by Sheffield Park.

 

Coal and coke traffic accounted for just 8.6% of the 702 wagons received at Sheffield Park during that winter but 80% of the “foreign” wagons. Traffic was dominated by merchandise arriving in ordinary LBSC open wagons, about half of which were sheeted, and covered goods wagons – 69% of the total wagons received, or 28 wagons per week. There were about 2 – 3 wagons per week received empty for loading, all LBSC. There was a steady flow of timber wagons, all LBSC, serving the local sawmill – was this just sawn timber out, or also uncut timber in? The remaining specialised wagons – cattle and machinery / road trucks, were also all LBSC.

 

That leaves just 14 foreign merchandise wagons – 2% of the total received, under one a week. Of these, six were Midland opens – probably D299s, possibly D305 dropside wagons, depending on the traffic. There were two North Eastern opens, along with one from the Great Central, and box vans (covered goods wagons) from the LNWR and Great Eastern – one each. These are all from lines north of the Thames, dominated by the companies serving the major industrial areas. However, in the absence of detailed information, we don’t know whether these were consignments of manufactured goods or lower-value bulk materials such as lime or building materials – only a third of the foreign open wagons were recorded as having sheets.

 

Three SECR covered goods wagons were received in this period, the only visitors from one of the neighbouring southern lines. 

 

Very conspicuous by their absence are any Great Western wagons. At the end of 1922, the Great Western had the third largest wagon fleet in the country, after the North Eastern and the Midland (and counting the LNWR and L&Y separately). Clearly the West Country had nothing to offer rural Sussex (no LSWR wagons either but that company’s wagon fleet was a sixth of the GWR’s) but one might have though there would be a consignment from the West Midlands routed via Reading. On the other hand, there was only one LNWR merchandise wagon received.

 

As a very general conclusion, one can say that the vast majority of goods traffic at this rural South of England station was local, the only commodity being brought in in quantity from outside the area being coal, at least half of which came from the Notts / Derbys / S. Yorks coalfield, with Cannock Chase being the principal alternative and South Wales hardly figuring at all. The Midland had the major share of the merchandise traffic from the industrial midlands and north, as well as the largest share of coal in non-PO wagons. Of those 18 Midland wagons, most if not all would have been D299 opens – an average of about one a week. That’s an average of around one D299 per week. So, once again I assert that every pre-Grouping goods yard should have one!

 

Subsequent post:

 

Nick Holliday has very kindly sent me a copy of Jonathan Abson's Sheffield Park article from the Brighton Circle magazine - the reference seems to be Vol. 8 pp. 106-114. This doesn't add a great deal more to what's already been said, though @Nearholmer will I think agree with the conclusion that "the almost complete lack of foreign vehicles leads one to suppose that both for the sophisticates at Sheffield Park and the rural bumkins in Fletching the local economy was all but self sufficient, and when Lewes couldn't provide what was wanted, 'Lunnon' could." 

 

The exceptions seem to be coal and beer. Despite breweries in Lewes and Tunbridge Wells, beer seems to account for a high proportion of the "foreign" traffic - a wagonload every two weeks, with those three SECR box vans coming from Canterbury (point to @Nearholmer) and Burton beer in Midland opens. Fortnightly over a four-month period is eight or nine deliveries so, less the three SECR vans, that's nearly all the Midland merchandise wagons accounted for! Vide those D299s and D305s seen carrying empty barrels home to Burton at Wellingborough in 1898. It's possible that the one-off LNWR covered goods wagon might also have been bringing beer from Burton.

 

Some of the LBSC wagons were arriving from non-LBSC goods stations - Angerstein Wharf (LBSC) and St Pancras (MR); the box vans - two a week - came from Kemp Town (biscuit traffic is suggested but I can't find evidence of a buscuit factory at this date) while the handful of cattle wagons all came from Willow Walk (Bricklayers Arms).

 

The sawmill was receiving timber in from Lewes - half-a-dozen bolsters per week, counting double bolster wagons as two!

 

Abson reckons there would be around 16 wagons in the yard every day. Adjusting his analysis slightly, if one was modelling this, one might want two day's worth of wagons. In which case you're allowed three non-LBSC wagons: two for coal, one PO and one Midland, or LNWR if you really want to push the boat out, and one Midland open loaded with Burton beer barrels - which at least look the same full or empty! If modelling a fortnight's traffic, there's room for a bit more variety but not all at once.

 

He has a plan of the station which resolves one puzzle I had from the OS 25" map. What I took to be a private siding to the creamery had no obvious connection to the rest of the trackwork (the OS surveyors were not faultless in their representation of track); Abson shows this as a 2'0" gauge milk trolley line, running to the rear face of the up platform. 

 

Where is this Goods Register now?

Edited by Compound2632
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@BR60103's latest posting on the jokes thread could perhaps be adopted as a motto for this topic, given the challenges presented in interpreting the limited evidence:

 

An engineer, an accountant and an actuary were on a road trip and they passed a field with a cow in it.

The engineer said "The cows are brown in this country."

The accountant said "There's one brown cow, at least."

The actuary said "Well, it's brown on this side."

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Sticking with the turn-of-the-century South of England theme, another snapshot is provided by a photograph taken at West Bay, the Ultima Thule of the Great Western's Bridport branch, on the Disused Stations website. There is a higher-resolution though cropped version of this photo in B.L. Jackson and M.J. Tattershall, The Bridport Branch (OPC, 1976) p. 65. Disused Stations say the photo is 1906, Jackson and Tattersall give June 1900. The engine, ex-Monmouthshire Railway 4-4-0T No. 1305. is recorded by Jackson and Tattersall as withdrawn in January 1905, so on the whole I'm inclined to believe their date - all the wagons are in pre-1904 livery and the two wagon sheets are emblazoned with the dragon's sinister wing, a style of marking which I believe was in use until c. 1902/3 and had disappeared by c. 1905. (The dragon's wing is from the coat of arms of the City of London, forming part of the Great Western's illegal armorial device.)

 

The photo shows a line of at least nine wagons on the single long siding. Of these, all but one are Great Western, the exception being a PO coal wagon. There is only one covered goods wagon. Having become interested in 19th century Great Western wagons, I think it's interesting to look at the age profile of these vehicles:

  • 1-plank open, number illegible, probably before 1872
  • 4-plank open No. 41451, os Lot 573, c. 1889/90
  • 3-plank open No. 51380, type built 1879-87, a mystery number
  • 2-plank open No. 6683, possibly os Lot153, c. 1875/76
  • 4-plank open, sheeted, number not visible, type built 1887-1902 but grease axleboxes suggest no later than 1897.
  • 4-plank open No. 4xxxx, c. 1887-1890
  • 2-plank open No. 20176, os Lot 97, 1874
  • iron mink No. 47036, os Lot 494, c. 1889/90
  • dumb-buffered 4-plank side and end door wagon, SOMERSET [COLLIERIES?] J [P?], pre-1887.

The identifiable wagons on view are between 10 and 26 years old, with one possibly younger - but at least 4 years old - and one at least 28 years old. Given that around a third of the Great Western's wagon fleet in 1900 had been built in the previous decade, this is a surprising distribution. (With the caveat of the small sample size.)

 

Anyway, key point is: no foreigners; even the PO wagon is from a Great Western-served location.

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14 hours ago, Andy Hayter said:

Edwardian

The 1:5 van to open wagon number is probably not far off for those companies with an indigenous coal or other mineral supply within their network - indeed 1:6 might be closer.  However the HMRS did an analysis of a few companies and the GER and LBSCR had a ratio of around 1:3.5.  LSWR was around 1:5 with its access to several mineral producers.  [HMRS Journal January 1992]  

I haven't got that Journal, but for starters I have pulled some figures out of books on L&YR and SE&CR wagons, which provide an insight into the changes in wagon types between the turn of the century and grouping, particularly the rise of covered vans that has been alluded to in other threads.

image.png.bc4ca4d42eb30cedc9e51c87df141c1e.png

 

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The Midland had 1,746 covered goods wagons at 31 Dec 1894, with a further 221 goods vans for meat or fruit traffic, in total just 1.6% of goods stock. At 31 Dec 1905, there were 8,791 ordinary covered goods wagons and 1,594 special covered goods wagons (now including banana vans as well as meat and fruit vans), 8.1% of the goods stock. The total wagon stock had increased over that 11 year period by 13.6% from 112,604 to 127,901. The ratio of vans to opens is lower for the Midland than for many other lines, as a high proportion of opens were in mineral traffic - perhaps as many as at third of the entire Midland wagon fleet, on the basis that the Midland had around 50% more wagons than the LNWR, which relied much more heavily on the coal trade providing its own wagons. Nevertheless it's clear that the Midland had a major programme of covered goods wagon building from the turn of the century. Some of this related to the expansion of the service of express goods trains, at least partly fitted with the automatic vacuum brake. Also, the company had been providing opens for some traffic for which other companies, particularly the LNWR, had been providing covered wagons, such as Burton beer (q.v. Sheffield Park).

 

My figures for the Great Western are not so precise, being based on build data rather than returns of stock, but in the period c. 1886-1901/2, 4,901 iron minks and 24,208 4-plank opens were built - 39% of the total wagon stock of around 75,000 vehicles in 1902; approximately one van built for every five opens. Including 1,500 earlier timber-bodied covered goods wagons, vans formed around 8.5% of the goods stock by c. 1902. The Great Western was not providing wagons for coal traffic.

 

These proportions need to be treated with care. It seems to me probable that covered goods wagons achieved higher utilisation than opens, being scarcer and used for higher-value traffic. So the proportion of vans to opens in a train could be higher, though that depends on the class of train, while the proportion of vans standing around in goods yards might be lower (q.v. West Bay). A pre-1903 photograph of an express goods train hauled by a Special DX on the up fast line at Bushey water troughs shows by my count 15 covered goods wagons (all LNWR) and 19 opens (nearly all sheeted and most if not all LNWR) [C. Northedge et al., LNWR Wagons Vol. 2 (Wild Swan, 2011) p. 118] whereas the goods and mineral train, hauled by a Coal Engine, filmed on the up goods line at Bushey in 1897 has no vans at all.

Edited by Compound2632
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5 hours ago, Compound2632 said:

the box vans - two a week - came from Kemp Town (biscuit traffic is suggested but I can't find evidence of a buscuit factory at this date)

 

I hesitate to mention it, but there was (still is?) a brewery at Kemp Town, famous for lager, so maybe yet more beer!

 

I'm trying to defend the reputation of the people of Sussex really, but is it possible that these vans containing beer were not filled to the cant-rails? Might we be thinking crates in only one or two layers across the wagon floor?

 

As an aside, I think I'm right in saying that both the dairy and sawmill at SP made use of narrow-gauge trolleys, and that they and associated track etc came from Howard's of Bedford, which fits with the other occasional cargo that I postulated: specialist machinery. There is one NER open in that tally, and  so want it to have contained a lighting dynamo for one of the bigger houses. More mundane agricultural and domestic ironmongery, and even things like conservatories, would  most likely have come from The Phoenix Ironworks at Lewes.

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Another possibility at Kemp Town was Albion Mills, which I think was a flour mill. 

 

I'm convinced that the area must have imported flour, because the clay soil, the small field sizes, and the very rumpled topography, which creates mist-pockets, are very poor for wheat. There was some grown in the area, but i've been told that it is a difficult crop in the Weald because it goes mildewy.

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51 minutes ago, Nearholmer said:

I hesitate to mention it, but there was (still is?) a brewery at Kemp Town, famous for lager, so maybe yet more beer!

 

I'm trying to defend the reputation of the people of Sussex really, but is it possible that these vans containing beer were not filled to the cant-rails? Might we be thinking crates in only one or two layers across the wagon floor?

 

One has to consider handling - barrels standing on end would be the easiest to manhandle; a second layer would be difficult to lift.

 

Looking at photos of Midland wagons loaded with Burton beer barrels, there seem to be typically a dozen barrels per wagon. Assuming these are 36 gallon barrels (data on linear dimensions of traditional barrel sizes is peculiarly elusive online), a wagonload is a bit over 10,000 pints which sounds about right to me for the weekly consumption of an adult population of around 1,000 at the period. Adjustments to be made if there is a Methodist chapel in the village.

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3 minutes ago, Compound2632 said:

One has to consider handling - barrels standing on end would be the easiest to manhandle; a second layer would be difficult to lift.

 

But, as I said in the other thread, I suspect that what was coming from Kent, and maybe Kemp Town too, wasn't barrels but specialist bottled beers in crates.

 

For instance, I know that Fremlin's of Maidstone had good penetration into the market in East Sussex for things like bottled IPA, stout etc, and having done a bit googling it seems that they supplied in stone jars (gallon?) as well as bottles. I'm wondering if the trade was to general stores and direct to private homes rather than through pubs.

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Another random thought: might these beer-filled wagons make more than one call? Drop in at SP on Tuesday, move on to Barcombe on Wednesday, get to Lewes on Thursday and return with the empties from there on a fast goods to Norwood followed by a trip round to Brent?

 

Another thought is the volume of re-usable packaging that was shipped about: barrels, wicker baskets and hampers, bottles, crates etc etc. The sort of things you got 1d for when you took them back to the shop.

Edited by Nearholmer
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