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Wales to London loco coal flows


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Hi everyone! 

 

I've just started building some Cambrian 40 tonners.  Some time ago I was inspired by a picture (perhaps pre WW1) of a rake of these pulled by an Aberdare but having looked long and hard for this picture in my library I can't find it and am starting to wonder if I ever saw it in the first place!  Before I wade into my GWRJs, does anyone know where to find any info (other than Russell and Tourret) and point me in the right direction?  I'm interested to know how many 40 tonners would be in a rake, which I presume would be a fixed one, and also assume that there would be a mix of N11,14 and 15 by the thirties?  Would any other loco coal wagons be there to make up the numbers?  Would this be a daily flow and I presume it would take a while to unload so return empty the next day?

 

Cheers, Mark

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Re 40 tonners: my question would be, would GWR 40 ton loco coal wagons have featured within general mixed coal trains comprising 10, 12 & 20 ton wagons? Be this the case, whereabouts in the train would 40 ton wagons be located?

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There were five diagrams of bogie loco coal wagons:

N1 with top doors

N11 with top doors

N14 Cambrian kit option

N15 Cambrian kit option

N17 Taller doors than the Cambrian kit

There were only 27 built total - 26 in use after 1915.  All 6 of the N11 type were used for the Torquay gas works traffic (not sure if for all their lives).  The ones used for loco coal would have been a drop in the ocean compared to about 3000 10-12T and 2800 20T wagons.

 

Will

Edited by WillCav
N11 not N1 for Torquay
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21 hours ago, Paul H Vigor said:

Re 40 tonners: my question would be, would GWR 40 ton loco coal wagons have featured within general mixed coal trains comprising 10, 12 & 20 ton wagons? Be this the case, whereabouts in the train would 40 ton wagons be located?

I can't find any general marshalling Instructions for these wagons in either the 1921 General Appendix or in the STTs which I have looked at so far.  In one STT there is only reference to 'coal empties' on various trains out of the London area but no mention at all of what sort of coal - just the area they would go to off that train.

 

I wouuldn't be surprised if the movement of loco coal was the subject of a particular circular but if it was then I'm sorry but there isn't a copy in my collection.  What is possibly worth doing is looking through STTs for references to loco coal movements but I haven't found anything so far.   The coal trains for the London area, and some other parts of the GWR in the south, originated - over the years - from either Pontypool Road, Rogerstone, or Severn Tunnel Jcn and it is also probably relevant to know which collieries could deal with wagons that large.

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Hi.

I was interested by the idea of Torquay gas works being serviced by 40t wagons so I did a image search and came up with this one on Britain from above.

https://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/en/image/EAW007605

 

The gas works siding appears to have a wagon tipper and there is actually a wagon on its side in the tipper.  End tipping wagons had a door which the load slid through but with side tipping presumably the wagon would have to be tipped more than 90 degrees, is that right?

 

The photo is dated 1947 and the buildings are still covered in camouflage paint.  A good and clear example of this practice which I have not seen so clearly before.

 

P

 

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I think that they were usually rotated by around 120° to tip their loads, the load starts to move well short of 90° but you need to go to about 120° to clear everything in the wagon.

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6 hours ago, br2975 said:

I doubt there were many wagon tipplers capable of rotating a GWR 40 ton Loco Coal wagon.

Not even at the GWR gas works at Swindon (which didn't receive coal in 40 ton wagons but was served by - among other vehicles - some specialised hopper wagons).

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On 20/03/2021 at 14:20, The Stationmaster said:

Not even at the GWR gas works at Swindon (which didn't receive coal in 40 ton wagons but was served by - among other vehicles - some specialised hopper wagons).

 

A reason for the Swindon gas coal not being conveyed in the 40 ton wagons could well be that it came from collieries off the GW system - Derbys / Notts / S Yorks - via Bordesley, at least in the 1920s - seen here. Those big wagons might not have been acceptable over some Midland lines. (Thanks again to Mike @Stationmaster for his input when this photo was previously discussed.)

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I was given to understand that the GWR didn't favour "Cenotaph" coaling plants like other  companies, because they used Welsh loco coal that was rather fragile and it didn't take well to rough handling.  If that's right, I don't image tipplers would have been favoured either.

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Michael Hodgson said:

I was given to understand that the GWR didn't favour "Cenotaph" coaling plants like other  companies, because they used Welsh loco coal that was rather fragile and it didn't take well to rough handling.  If that's right, I don't image tipplers would have been favoured either.

I've long wondered about that 'explanation'.   The ideal loco coal, from various pits in the Western Valleys was indeed friable as was coal from the Rhondda BUT the GWR was extremely good at managing to load into colliers at its various South wales docks without causing it to get broken up or reduced to dust and had even devised its own designs of ship loading equipment to do exactly that.   So the GWR's Docks Dept could definitely handle the softer of the Welsh coals without the sort of damage to it that would send buyers elsewhere and some of it went to railways overseas which meant it was unloaded from the ship before getting to the customer's loco coaling facility.  At which place it was being loaded to something (in this case a bunker or tender) for the fourth time since it had reached the surface at a South Wales colliery;  going into a GWR bunker or tender would only be the second time it had been loaded to something since reaching the surface.  

 

So I have long wondered if the reason the GWR didn't go in for more modern coaling facilities at its larger depots, or even for more efficient modern ash pits at its busiest sheds, had a lot more to do with finance than anything else.  Labour to coal engines, and carry out fire dropping and ash removal was cheap - on the GWR all that work was carried out by Labourers at the large sheds and Labourers were the lowest paid grade of the lot apart from Lad Cleaners/(adult) Cleaners.   So did the GWR simply use its Loan Act money in a different way (e.g providing single road workshops at more sheds which lacked that facility) and not bother with making major alterations at its large sheds almost all of which were less than 30 years old by the 1930s?  And of course a lot of the GWR CME's funds were being spent on loco fleet modernisation.

 

PS. And the South Western Division of the SR using South Wales coal seems to have managed alright with tall mechainial coaling plants at Nine Elms and Exmouth Jcn.

Edited by The Stationmaster
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23 minutes ago, The Stationmaster said:

its large sheds almost all of which were less than 30 years old by the 1930s?  

I don't know about the LNER but on the LMS the large coaling towers were replacing coal stages dating from the 1890s or earlier. 

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I've carried on trawling for information in my "library".  So far the nearest I've got is an informative section on loco coal in Vol 2 of GWR Goods Train Working by Tony Atkins.  There are quite a few relevant pictures which suggest that these workings were a bit of a mishmash of wagons and also included other goods, but no pictures include any of the 40 tonners as far as I can make out.  I think I might have to invoke Rule 1.

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The 40-ton wagons spent a lot of their service life being dumped at the back of Swindon Works. The bogies for these were 'pinched' for other work

 

Courtesy GWR Goods Wagons  Atkins, Beard, Hyde, Tourret

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On 23/03/2021 at 13:47, The Stationmaster said:

I've long wondered about that 'explanation'.   The ideal loco coal, from various pits in the Western Valleys was indeed friable as was coal from the Rhondda BUT the GWR was extremely good at managing to load into colliers at its various South wales docks without causing it to get broken up or reduced to dust and had even devised its own designs of ship loading equipment to do exactly that.   So the GWR's Docks Dept could definitely handle the softer of the Welsh coals without the sort of damage to it that would send buyers elsewhere and some of it went to railways overseas which meant it was unloaded from the ship before getting to the customer's loco coaling facility.  At which place it was being loaded to something (in this case a bunker or tender) for the fourth time since it had reached the surface at a South Wales colliery;  going into a GWR bunker or tender would only be the second time it had been loaded to something since reaching the surface.  

 

So I have long wondered if the reason the GWR didn't go in for more modern coaling facilities at its larger depots, or even for more efficient modern ash pits at its busiest sheds, had a lot more to do with finance than anything else.  Labour to coal engines, and carry out fire dropping and ash removal was cheap - on the GWR all that work was carried out by Labourers at the large sheds and Labourers were the lowest paid grade of the lot apart from Lad Cleaners/(adult) Cleaners.   So did the GWR simply use its Loan Act money in a different way (e.g providing single road workshops at more sheds which lacked that facility) and not bother with making major alterations at its large sheds almost all of which were less than 30 years old by the 1930s?  And of course a lot of the GWR CME's funds were being spent on loco fleet modernisation.

 

PS. And the South Western Division of the SR using South Wales coal seems to have managed alright with tall mechainial coaling plants at Nine Elms and Exmouth Jcn.

An interesting analysis, Mike; I’ve always unquestioningly accepted the friable explanation but there may well have been more to it than that, and it is interesting to read your managerial perspective.  I am old enough to remember the tipping of wagons from hoists into ships’ holds at Cardiff Docks, a fascinating thing to watch from a child’s pov.
 

The coal did not free fall very far before it entered a chute which could be moved to assist the loading, which was completed by trimmers working in the hold, a dangerous and highly skilled job essential to the distribution of weight in the hold, as you know essential to the seaworthiness of the loaded ship.  There was still a lot of airborne dust crated though, and, once at sea, one of the first jobs after she’d dropped her pilot was to hose down the mess. 
 

South Wales beaches down as far as Gower featured areas of washed up coal dust from this source, still do to some extent, and there are probably several million tons of it contained within the Bristol Channel’s sandbanks.

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Interesting to see the sea coal tipping on the film 'Get Carter'. The last time I had a holiday up that way, it was very easy to pick up a carrier bag's worth of ready-washed small coal, and the locals have been doing it for a century or more.

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