Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wagon Plate

This photo has been sent to me by Martin Mellon of a wagon plate collected by his father. Does anyone know anything about this?

Obviously the date and place are a giveaway but does anyone know what the numbers mean?

Not having worked behind the wall I have no idea where or how these plates were made. I assume that these were individually cast in sand with the numbers changed in sequence.


Heather Kavanagh said...

The large number at the top is the wagon's running number. It would also have been painted on the body, at the left hand end as you faced the side.

The next number is the weight of the wagon. This is the all-up weight when loaded. In this case it's a 12-ton box van. This number, too, would have been painted on the bodywork, along with the unladen (tare) weight.

The lot number was the batch ordered from the works. These were assigned centrally. So many wagons were ordered from a diagram book, and assigned a lot number. If you know where to look, you can actually find lots of details from the records based on just this wagon plate.

Hope that's helpful.

martin said...

Hello Heather,

Some useful information so far.

However are there any records that show what type of goods it carried? Where it spent most of its working life etc.

please can you email me some website addresses to check?


Regards Martin Mellon

Heather Kavanagh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heather Kavanagh said...

Hi Martin

I fear it would be very difficult to find any records of the actual traffic the van was used for. Individual vehicles weren't necessarily assigned to specific purposes, unlike passenger stock where specific vehicles would run in consitent sets on regular duties.

A standard goods van like this 12-ton example could find itself anywhere on the system. It's the very nature of a common carrier system that British Railways was lumbered with into the 1960s. While each loaded wagon would have had a waybill which documented its number, load, weight and destination, very few of such ephemera survive today.

A quick glance at one of my reference works - "British Railways Wagons" by Don Rowland - shows me that in 1959 there were over one million BR built wagons in use, of which our van may have been one of nearly 300,000! Trying to pinpoint the kind of traffic a single goods van may have been used for at any time in its potentially 20-year life would be all but impossible.

A little further information to help you identify what the wagon actually looked like: Lot 2595 was a batch of 850 vacuum-brake fitted 12-ton Ventilated Goods Vans built to diagram 1/208. This diagram totalled 19063 wagons over the period 1951 to 1958, of which 16099 were built at Wolverton. It was a British Railways standard design. Here's a link to a photo of such a van, of a different lot but built at Wolverton in 1952.

As you can see, trying to locate the movements of one such van out of nearly 20000 near identical vans would be the apocryphal needle in a haystack. Don't forget, also, that during this period substantial numbers of pre-BR wagons would also have been in service.

I hope that was of some interest, and I haven't come across as some kind of wagon nerd!

Bryan Dunleavy said...

A possibly useful comment from John Gentles:

According to wikipedia ( which is not always accurate!) the number B 762446 would be a "Driving Trailer Electrical Multiple Unit Carriage", whatever that is.
The website, which I found by chance is