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M&GN 6w passenger brake van

Melton Constable 1921-24

Twelve of these vans were built at a time when most companies (except the NER) had adopted bogie vans or 4w with a long wheelbase for new construction. The popular term "passenger brake van" - the railway's term was "carriage brake" when used with passenger trains - can be a misnomer. For example, by now the NER was using essentially the same design for parcels traffic and through vans; for milk; and for the homing pigeon race traffic.

Design

The Midland and Great Northern design combined old practices and the result could hardly be described as modern. The previous length of 28ft was retained when other companies had gone over to 32ft, including the first generation of long-wheelbase 4w vans (on the SECR/SR and soon the LNER as well). At first glance, the roof looked like the old Howlden GNR "flat roof" but it was actually the slightly higher one used by the Eastern & Midlands Railway. Panelling and beading was GNR style. Both companies had used a large ducket but the Howlden version with more beading was chosen. Another feature common to both companies' vans was the provision of two double doors on each side. A difference from the previous E&M vans was omission of shielded ventilators over the opening doors.

A significant feature was in the guard's position which was not at the centre - where the riding was best of course - but at one end. The previous 4w design had the same, as did GER 6w passenger brakes. It allowed a large uncluttered van area which suggests that the design was not only a carriage brake for use with passenger trains made up with 6w carriages, but as a multi-purpose through van, on and off the system. Hence it was also dual braked, or perhaps fitted with AVB and through Westinghouse pipe. A through steam heat pipe was also fitted. Such a vehicle was compatible with passenger-rated traffic anywhere.

A 6-wheel chassis was fitted which by 1921 was no longer being used for new passenger carriages anywhere, with the notable exception of the aforementioned ones on the NER. Lighting was by gas - which was also unusual for new construction of such vehicles, suggesting that economy was a factor. The fittings, or some of them going by the gauge carried on the solebar of an example seen in the late 1950s, had come from the Midland Railway. Electric lighting was never fitted. It's easy to forget that only the wealthy companies could afford to re-equip their carriages this way and gas-making plants continued to serve well into BR days. By then these vans would only have been around 30 years old, the outer appearance was still good, and withdrawal was probably enforced on other grounds. They were certainly less efficient by then, being rated to carry only 4 tons, less than half of a modern vanfit.

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This drawing by Iain R. Smith was based on examination of an example in BR days and is dated 1955 (published in Model Railway News in 1958). It's a good modellers dwg except for omission of the roof fittings: these can be derived from the photographs below. Note that the legend "M&GN" does not tally with the running number, which is an LNER one. There is also a possible discrepancy regarding the lower footstep, this is discussed under one of the photographs.

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Running numbers

My apologies for the delay on this front but it's complicated because the M&GN didn't apply the numbers all that clearly, it was semi-random. When the LNER took over, and renumbering was required, Stratford did the sensible thing and a range was applied in the sequence of construction. BR followed suit. And that's the order I have chosen here. As can be seen, some of these brake vans were withdrawn without receiving BR numbers (thanks again to John Watling):

Built

M&GN

ex-LNER

ex-BR

1921

186

84987

6301

1921

189

84988

6302

1921

191

84989

6303

1922

183

84990

6304

1922

185

84991

6305

1922

187

84992

6306

1923

190

84993

6307

1923

192

84994

6308

1923

193

84995

-

1924

184

84996

6309

1924

194

84998

-

1924

207

84999

-

In short, of the dozen built, nine lasted into BR days of which several served into the late 1950s.

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This is the earliest view I have of these vans, taken somewhere around 1925-35 inside the carriage works at Melton Constable and though distant, it's too pleasing a scene not to show whole. From left to right the stock, all 6w, is:
     ex-GNR 3rd No 61,  M&GN B,  unidentified 6w,  M&GN B.
The brake on the far right is useful for showing the end steps and handrail. Photo: SLS.

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An enlargement of the van in the middle shows a little more and it's a pity that the number cannot quite be made out. Several panels above the waist seem to have been repaired with narrower pieces. Photo: SLS.

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E6305E is seen at Grimsby in 1956.

The key feature of the design stands out, the guard's position at the end, unlike the GNR and NER 6w designs, an example of the latter standing alongside. In addition to the legend "Load 4 tons distributed" on the body there is a cast plate on the solebar which reads "Load 4 tons". It can be seen on all three pictures.

The M&GN van is in good condition externally and the roof has been repainted recently (likewise the ex-NER van). It was eventually condemned in 1959 after a modest service life (for a van) of 37 years. Photo: H.C. Casserley.

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A year later in 1957, the same van, E6305E is seen again; location unknown, Note how the location for the lamp over the ducket has been sealed; lamps were now carried on lamp irons on the body end. Photo: R.S. Carpenter.

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E6309E is seen at an unknown time and place. All three pictures, and those from the late 1930s, show a reduction of the lower step below the solebar into two short ones. The 1955 drawing represents the as-built condition and it is not known how accurate it is in this regard. Photo: N. Simmons.

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In service

There was a lot of fruit and veg traffic in East Anglia and in 1927 the LNER was to modernise the ex-GER vans with newly built "passenger brake vans" on a long wheelbase to D.120. It is possible that these M&GN 6w vans could have been used in such traffic, as well as parcels vans in through traffic, and as carriage brakes, of course.

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M&GN Class C 4-4-0 No 5 is seen near Cromer in 1923 with a five-coach train of 6w stock including a carriage brake at the near end. There was probably a 3rd brake at the far end. Both are carrying a guard's lamp. Photo: LGRP.

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On a murky day in 1938, Class C No 011 stands at Kings Lynn with an Ordinary Passenger train. By this time, many bogie carriages had been supplied to help eliminate the old 6w stock but the ex-M&GN 6w carriage brakes continued to be used. It is evident that the lower steps were already being reduced. Photo: SLS.

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Revised caption - Taken in 1939 with LNER branding on the loco, Class C, No 043 approaches Melton Constable with a train from Cromer. Two 6w vans are at the head with an ex-GER 32' van leading. Behind it is a 28' ex-M&GN van with what may be ventilator bonnets over the doors and thus the earlier design ex-E&M. Most striking is the large difference in size.

Much more can be said about the ex-GER van for it was one of only two built with gangways in 1906 for the York-Harwich service. Originally 293,294, the LNER renumbered them 6628, 6629 and in July 1938, transferred them to the M&GN section, as 84965, 84966. In other words, when this photograph was taken, both vans in this train were serving the M&GN. At Nationalisation the ex-GER pair was renumbered back into the LNER series, as 6313 and 6314.They lasted until 1953 (with thanks to John Watling). Photo: H.C. Casserley.

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