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GCR milk van

Just before the GCR London Extension opened in 1899, the company built two batches of fruit & milk vans. One, by contractors, was a fairly conventional goods-style vehicle but the one built by Gorton, and subject of the D&S kit, had a passenger coaching stock outline. The axleboxes were grease, however. It was much used on the London Extension. The original livery has not been verified in detail except that it was brown and French Grey; in LNER days, plain brown.

The model

A fairly typical and easy to build kit from Dan: etched brass, whitemetal castings, and Plastikard roof. Alas, I took no constructional pictures (although, hang on, I have some more to build) so for now can only offer the following:

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The drawing from the kit instructions, the version with LNER livery. I have pencilled in the location of some of the smaller lettering, including branding of "Milk Van", which appears to have been adopted for quite heavy use in milk traffic in the London Extension. Not shown is the curved rainstrip. I wasn't sure about the advice to fit the roof grab handles diagonally across the corners and as none of the train photographs was very clear in this regard, I opted for a more conventional layout. One day, hopefully, such detail will be resolved. Unusually, steps are shown at both ends, a bit of luxury for a relatively short vehicle.

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The kit as supplied (wire, Plastikard and bearings not shown), in other words, a proper kit. :)

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The model seen from the same side as the drawing with a handbrake lever to the right. It's a beautiful model with no tweaking but for the curved rainstrip on the roof, although today, I would fit sprung buffers from the MJT range as well.

Another aspect I might address concerns the ventilator bonnets. A single layer of etched brass is provided, a common simplification, compared with castings which look properly three-dimensional. To improve them would need a Plastikard base, gluing the etchings on a long strip and, when set, cutting and sanding, and finally gluing in place. It's not as fiddly as it might sound and the extra depth of the bonnets is quite a feature. If you've ever tried fitting the LNER bonnets from MJT you'll know what I mean.

Livery is a nondescript brown with weathered roof and underframe. Transfers came from the PC/HMRS range, still the best in the land. The large "NE" letters were left to harden and then the gaps over the grilles were cut through using a fresh scalpel. All the lettering was then toned down. The model currently runs in my representation of the "Banbury Motor".

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The prototype

In the absence of a formal view of the van I can best offer these two pictures of an example in the Banbury Motor, as the service between Woodford and Banbury was called to the end of its days, long after a loco-hauled rail motor ceased being used. Alas, the quality is pretty dire and no amount of Photoshopping can make a silk purse etc. so I have kept the size down.

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In a view from the road overbridge, C13 No 6063 stands at Banbury GWR station with the Banbury Motor. Such was the scene on a murky day in the 1930s when Banbury was an industrial powerhouse in what is now called the Tramway Estate. Ironically, the platform face where the train is standing - disconnected after the London Extension was abandoned in the '60s - was brought back into use the other year.

Behind the loco is the milk van. The coaches, all ex-GCR 50' include, in pretty random order, an ex-London Suburban 50ft 3rd, a similar brake end, and a clerestory, which was probably a composite.

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Another view from c1930 shows the Banbury Motor on its way, passing Banbury North signal box and the marshalling yards. This time C13 No 6060 is in charge with the milk van leading. Faintly visible in the left end panel at the waist are two words which appear to be "MILK VAN". Following are two ex-GCR passenger carriages (T,BC) with the London Suburban 3rd again and the clerestory recognisable as a brake composite. On the rear is an empty ex-NER horse box. I only need a D&S kit for that and my model of this formation will be complete. :)

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A grand view of 8B 4-4-2 No 358 departing Marylebone with the 6.20pm express for Bradford. In the background is the Rossmore Road dairy and several milk vans. Photo: author's collection.

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An enlargemnt of the above picture with apologies for the quality - it's a small sepia contact print which was not glazed hence the texture of the paper catches the light. Standing in the sidings by the dairy is a GCR bogie van (1908) and three milk vans. The first two are the carriage-style version and subject of the kit. Beyond them is the goods-style version with outside framing, which was not as common at the London end. Both were described by the company as "Milk and fruit vans", Photo: Author's collection.

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The Diagram for the goods-style milk & fruit van from the LNER-C Carriage Diagram book. Built in 1898-99 just before the more sophisticated version covered by the kit, running numbers were 5140-5164. It was a shorter and old-fashioned vehicle which carried fewer churns - the newer version was preferred for the traffic to Marylebone - and had a relatively short life with, by the late '30s, five remaining in service.

Diagram redrawn from scan by Rupert Brown. Click on the image for an enlargement

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Another fine picture at Marylebone, this time a secondary service which has been rostered for D11 No 603 Somme. The formation consists of a 4-set of London Suburban carriages with a milk van on the rear. Photo: Author's collection.

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Other GC models are here:

Clerestory 50ft coaches.

Horse box

6w goods brake van

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