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Ex-GNR Howlden bogie van

I wrote this one up in Model Rail under "GNR Howlden carriages" (see Articles Index for details), covering a 45ft brake composite and a 45ft brake van. This is an expanded overview based on just the van, and with two versions - in early LNER lined livery, and later LNER unlined. I've also added historical and service info.

The prototype

These 45ft vans were classic Howlden designs and 26 were built between 1899-1902 concurrently with a gangwayed, clerestory version (described separately, see link below). All the options were covered with two modern designs. Details may be found in the GNRS Archive publication, "Howlden Non Passenger Coaching Stock, Diagram 296 to Diagram 376", Terry Henderson, 2000.

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They were designated Diagram GN.296 as shown above. The title, "Luggage Brake Van" was to distinguish it from a similar-looking "Milk Van".

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Some details

Brakes - all were dual braked with full vacuum and Westinghouse brake.
Heating - full steam heating was also provided.
Lighting - was by gas and the Diagram Book and photographs indicate that that's how they stayed.

Numbering - was semi-random originally, which the LNER collated into two groups:

490-499
4000-4015

Livery - The varnished teak was fully lined originally but the LNER dropped the lining from around 1928. After WWII they would have increasingly been painted plain brown.

A few were withdrawn just before WWII but nearly all lasted into the late 1940s and twelve - nearly half of the class - continued to serve in BR days. The last three were withdrawn in 1953 with service lives of fifty years, a length methinks more modellers ought to recognise.

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The first one of the class, No 2910 (LNER 490). Panchromatic film was used so the teak appears quite natural.

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E495 stands at Selby on 21st April 1951, almost certainly painted brown with a coat of traffic dust which enables the fittings and details to be seen clearly. It was still gas-lit.

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The D&S kit

I've probably said it before but NPCS vans which have no interior are easier than full-blown passenger carriages and D&S kits are excellent. In this case there is a sting in the tail, well two actually, because the sliding "plug doors" with vertical locking bars benefit from souping up, and there is a lot of detail! But what you get is a distinctive and very good-looking model from the era when not every coach looked like its neighbour. Bogie vans had longer lives than passenger carriages anyway and here is a good reason for modelling, dare I say, the real thing?

Only a few constructional pictures this time because the basics tend to repeat - especially with the D&S ex-ECJS clerestory van which also had plug doors - but there are some useful points regarding this particular vehicle.

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This picture was published matchbox-size, now you can blow it up and see the plug doors taking shape - getting the runners right is a little fiddly but in truth, many kits with sliding doors and runners are simplifications or even plain wrong but it's not hard to adjust these and get them right. The vertical locking bars were added later.

In many kits a guard's ducket is provided as a near mission-impossible etching (I still remember seeing one on a GWR vehicle which was impossible!) but Dan Pinnock wisely provides a casting. The lower beading is overscale and it helps to knock it off and replace with Microstrip. I mention it here because the second model below I actually built first so you can see a kind of before and after and judge for yourself if the extra effort is worth it.

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Here is the roof complete but for the handrails on the end. I replaced the skylight glazing with Plastikard because it was soon covered with smoke deposits and painted the whole roof a smoky grey colour..

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I usually photograph finished models in the same way as the railways did, from between rail and solebar level, so here you'll only see the roof fittings in profile. But on the layout, it's captivating. This model is one of my favourites (it runs on the Gresley Beat).

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A general view of the finished model. It represents the 1920s when lining was still being applied, but the teak had darkened. A smoky roof and dusty underframe also lend a nice "in-service" feel.

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A close-up of one end shows how many fittings there were on the body side, too! And most of it was iron or steel, not brass. Here again, as with the roof, the sheer volume of the fittings does wonders for the appearance and "feel" of the vehicle.

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Shadows cast by the fittings emphasise how much there is and from this angle, the arrangement of the vertical locking bars is easier to see.

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A later-period model

This model represents the post-WWI and early BR period with a dusty plain brown paint finish. It looks quite plain but many vans went like this as traffic dust covered everything. A BR-period picture of the real things shows this perfectly! It also shows that vanished teak without lining doesn't have to look drab if you've fitted the details, which help make the model "sing".

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On reflection, the colour could have been a little more wearisome but I think you'll see what I mean about the appearance.

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A closer view shows the ducket casting without improvement to the lower beading and it's definitely below par. What a difference the fix makes! You can also see that in this first attempt I got the lower door runner right but didn't place the upper one high enough. You might not have noticed if I hadn't pointed it out but now you know, compare the two and the improvement is definitely more like the real thing. On the other hand, I made a good job of covering the the windows with a layer of traffic dust. :)

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In service

As mentioned above, when introduced in 1899 these non-gangwayed bogie vans were built concurrently with the gangwayed clerestory version but provision of dual braking and steam heating for the guard made them almost interchangeable, as the illustrations below show. They were always more likely to be attached to secondary expresses but could still occasionally be attached to a main line express when the need arose.

Mostly they were used in parcels traffic which, on the GN Section, meant attachment to Ordinary Passenger services plying up and down the line. A good example was one of the Leeds-King's Cross trains which, from Doncaster, also conveyed a TPO back to London:

  TPO
  3 Passenger carriages (non-gangwayed)
  6 Bogie vans

The vans on the rear were a mixture of gangwayed and non-ganywayed types among which a Howlden 45ft BV was rostered. This train is modelled on "The Gresley Beat", albeit with a few less bogie vans!

They also served in parcels trains although in LNER days there was only one on the GN Section, running overnight: dedicated parcels trains were more common on the NE Area.

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In GNR condition, what was to become K3 2-6-0 No 1003, heads north past New Southgate on the fast line with an ECML express and a Howlden 45ft BV behind the tender. Lining is clear to see, especially on the vertical beading. Photo: H. Gordon Tidey.

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Bogie vans were occasionally added to Pullman trains and this is the Down "Queen of Scots" at Hadley Wood behind C1 3276 in 1927. Whether or not the Howlden 45ft BV is still lined is impossible to tell, but if so, it doesn't exactly leap out. Photo: LGRP.

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This parcels train was captured at Croft Spa on the NE Area in 1930 and the fifth vehicle along is a Howlden 45ft BV, easily spotted by the low roof and Howlden ducket. It was probably in a circuit from the GN Section. Photo: Photomatic.

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A4 No 2510 Quicksilver is at Brookman's Park in the late 1930s with the 4.5pm from King's Cross as lengthened on summer weekends (see LNER passenger Trains and Formations, p.78 for details). A bogie van was added for passengers' luggage and as can be seen, a Howlden BV was taken from the pool of spare bogie vans.

I might add that the photograph was only taken because of the A4 - the normal loco for this working was an Ivatt C1 Atlantic! It's a good example of photographic bias. Photo: Photomatic.

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Another photograph which can confuse - in this case a great deal! It shows the 10.57am Leeds Central - King's Cross which took almost six hours to reach London. It had been rostered for a non-gangwayed 4-set and, in the late '30s, modernised by a gangwayed "steel quintuple set" (for details including this working see "LNER Trains & Formations", p.146-148) and possibly only then given Express status, while stopping frequently (for up to seven minutes) and attaching bogie vans in classic GN Section secondary service style. It was much photographed and observed and the usual loco was not an A4 but a K3. On Saturdays, two Howlden 6-wheel 3rds were placed on the rear, not exactly the stuff of Expresses!

Between Doncaster and King's Cross stops were made at 14 stations and in this picture the train had just called at Knebworth on the Slow Line, and been granted the Fast Line ahead of its penultimate call at Finsbury Park. Among the bogie vans being carried several Howlden duckets can be seen: one of them would have been a 45ft BV from Cleethorpes. Photo: Photomatic.

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In a view from the 1930s, D2 No 4337 has a King's Cross Outer Suburban train on the Up slow line comprising two 55'6" twins in front of which a Howlden 45ft BV has been marshalled. It's covered in dust and almost certainly no longer lined. Photo: Author's collection.

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The final view for now shows N2 No 2676 on the slow line with another KX Outer Suburban train on the slow line and a Howlden 45ft BV behind the loco. This time there is no doubt that the van is no longer lined. The running number is 4006. Photo: H.C. Casserley.

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LNER clerestory BGs: is here.

Modelling the ECJS BG: is here.

ECJS and GNR 55'6" BG: is here.

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