Thursday, July 28, 2011

Private Owner Wagons post Nationalisation

by John Kendall

Students of British Railways history will be aware that in 1939, all the Private Owner wagons (with some exceptions) were pooled under government control for the duration of the war. The idea in 1939 was that the wagons would be returned to their owners at the end of hostilities - this never happened.

In 1948 the nascent nationalised British Railways inherited a hodge podge of rolling stock from the 4 big companies (LMS, GWR, SR and LNER) plus the PO wagons. Now, much of this was antiquated and had been poorly maintained during the war. However, BR was in no position to scrap vehicles wholesale so had to make do with what they had - at least for the time being.

So, here's my beef. I frequently see pristine PO wagons hauled by BR locos on layouts at exhibitions. This can be corrected. First of all, as I said above, after the war they were in dreadful shape. Second, the concept of Privately Owned wagons had gone by the board in 1939, so there was no need to maintain their identity. Third, BR tried to standardise the identity and marking of all their wagons. Therefore, PO wagons in BR ownership received numbers prefixed by "P" on sloppily painted black panels in the corners of the wagons. Those wagons with end doors also received a white stripe. My source for the appearance of the wagons is "The 4mm Coal Wagon" by John Hayes (Wildswan).

The markings can be acheived easily by using the excellent range of ModelMaster decals. Heavy weathering is in order as well. Certainly by the early 1960s, the previous identity of the surviving wagons (and few were left by then) would have all but disappeared.

Here are three I did:

The two on the right are Bachmann. The Great Mountain wagon is possibly a kit - it is riding on a PECO chassis.

The video above shows a mineral train running with a collection of ex PO and BR standard wagons. While most BR wagons look very similar there were a large number of variations. In the train most of the wagons are unique types.

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