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GCR horse box

The Diagrams and in service.

GCR horse boxes

There were six designs of horse box built by the MSLR and GCR (and an ex-LDEC one, too) which lasted into LNER days and the final one, into BR days as well. One is covered by the R&E kit, but a quick look at the sequence is useful, and besides, many train pictures show a mixture of types. As with all rolling stock, the old and the new always rubbed shoulders.

Diagram number: GCR 1X1, LNER-C 218, then Code 5191


28 were built by the MS&LR between 1875-1890 and this view shows two in a London Extension train at Northwood (see below for the whole train).

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

The Diagram from the LNER-C carriage drawing book was a modified reprint of the GCR original and in poor shape so I have redrawn it. The body was 17'6" long and wheelbase a fairly generous one of 10'2". In this relatively early design the groom's door was at the outer end with his seat backing onto the horse compartment, making it awkward to attend to them through the partition. The groom's windows were small and old-fashioned, almost a token gesture.

A few other things stand out: the Diagram shows no ventilation on the roof; instead, grilles were provided in all three compartments: groom, horse and fodder. The diagram appears to show ventilation gaps between the planks in the upper doors for the horse compartment but they do not show in the train picture above, which suggests that the design was modified before or during construction but the Diagram was not. Discrepancies like this I have noted elsewhere and that drawings, no matter how official, are not tablets cast in stone! It is also possible that the train picture shows examples of the next two Diagrams of which I have yet to find a drawing.

The total of running numbers quoted on the Diagram was 28 and they were given LNER numbers but only 4 lasted well into LNER days:

GCR: 608, 610, 730, 1012, 1214
LNER: 912, 923, 941, 947, 952.

Diagram number: GCR 1X2, LNER-C 219, later Code 5192.
Diagram number: GCR 1X3, LNER-C 220, later Code 5193.

Built in short batches in 1892 (6) and 1897-8 (8), details for these two Diagrams are lacking apart from general dimensions and the running numbers. 1X2 seems to have disappeared in early LNER days. 1X3 was shorter at 16'8" and lasted longer, its running numbers being:

GCR: 1785-1792
LNER: 1059-1066.

Diagram number: GCR 1X4, LNER-C 221, later Code 5194.

Construction of this design was started by the MS&LR and ended by the GCR while the London Extension was being completed and launched. It's the version covered by the R&E kit. I have an official drawing approx. 3'x2' as well, but far too large to reproduce, and the Diagram does reveal quite a lot that can be added to the instructions with the kit. Here's the Diagram:

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

Note the significant developments from the previous design with a much better laid out compartment for the groom, better ventilation all round, and a higher roof. These horse boxes were actually built in several batches with some variations in detail, the first series over three years at Gorton, and the second one by Gloucester C&W Co. They totalled 67 and the Diagram combines them:

First series (12) - built 1897, 1901, 1902 - with vacuum brake and Westinghouse through pipe. Numbers which can be confirmed below, the gaps caused by a partially random method of numbering:

GCR: 599, 604, 611, 613, 614, 616, 618, 622, 624, 626, 627, 629.
LNER: 903, 908, 915, 917, 918, 920, 922, 926, 928, 930, 931, 933.

Second series (45) - built 1898 - dual braked

GCR 1549-1593
LNER: 954-998.


No 1553 from the second series poses at its builder's, Birmingham Carriage and Wagon Co.

The Diagram.shows four torpedo vents but only two can be seen on the photograph. This may have been a progressive development during construction as the final Diagram certainly had four. Alas, few of my in-service views for this Diagram are very clear in this regard and, whether GCR or LNER period, they all appear to show two vents. There may have been examples with more vents, but I cannot prove it. There is also the possibility of the original design having had four vents, but this was countermanded when construction started on grounds of cost. At present, my advice to modellers would be to rely on the prototype pictures and only fit two vents.

Another confusing aspect re the Diagram is that the vents are shown as sloping while all the service pictures clearly show them as vertical: on all the designs, which required a levelling sub-base.

In 1928 the LNER decided to abolish the Westinghouse brake except for the suburban service on the GE Section and the second series began to have it removed from around 1928. Unfortunately, this record is unclear and I can only identify the following with reasonable confidence as having lost it before withdrawal: 969, 970, 971, 972, 975, 979, 985, 989, 990, 991, 994, 995, 998.

Longest lived was No 998. Indeed, it was the only reason this page was still in the diagram book.

The final two diagrams of GCR horse box were similar and built in 1903-5 and 1913:

Diagram number: GCR 1X5, LNER-C 222, later Code 5195.
Diagram number: GCR 1X6, LNER-C 223, later Code 5196.


Above is an example of a horse box to 1X5 and (below) the Diagram to 1X6 with apologies for its imperfections for the original is in poor shape and I have not been able to redraw it beyond a certain point:

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The length and dual-braked layout were the same as the previous Diagram but the panelling had the more attractive curved mouldings as per the GCR carriages of the 1900s and there were two modernising differences: the wheelbase was lengthened slightly from 9'6" to 10' (it's odd how in the previous design the wheelbase had been reduced by 8" which would have given a poorer ride) and the lower drop flap was provided with dampers to control its descent, a forward-looking feature also fitted by the North Eastern Railway.

Oil axleboxes were being fitted at last and the carriage style of the box was enhanced by more of a passenger carriage livery, complete with 3rd Class designation. The owners travelled by 1st Class carriage, of course! There is some evidence of the class branding still being used in LNER days:

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This is an enlargement from a mid-1920s view at Carlisle showing three livestock vehicles, two ex-GNR and in the middle, and ex-GCR HB to 1X5 or 1X6 with the 3rd Class designation on the door, apparently now in white. Photo: Author's collection.

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Running numbers for the two Diagrams were, respectively:

IX5 (50) - built 1903-5:

GCR: 1735-84
LNER: 1009-58

IX6 (10) - built 1913:

GCR: 1705-14
LNER: 999-1008


The size of the fleet is difficult to state clearly because later construction was twofold: to replace earlier designs with more modern ones, and to expand the fleet for the opening of the London Extension. The best that I can offer is that Diagram IX4 (1897-1902) = 57, followed by Diagrams IX5 and IX6 (1903-13) = 60. In short, adding a nominal number for previous designs which disappeared in early LNER days the fleet handed over to the LNER in 1923 probably comprised approximately 125-130 horse boxes.

In service

The following pictures show these horse boxes in chronological order and it's significant that nearly all were captured on GCR or GC Section metals. The number of race horse trainers which operated in this area is believed to have been quite small so most of the movements would have been of a general nature, of working horses and for leisure.

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11A 4-4-0 No 870 is at Northwood c1901 on the approach to Marylebone with an Up express and two of the earlier horse boxes behind the tender. It isn't possible to tell if they were loaded or empties being sent there to collect horses bound for the North. Labels have been placed in the holders on the lower doors. Photo: LGRP.

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Staff pose for the camera at Chalfont Road in mid-GCR days as an 11A class 4-4-0 passes with a short express of three clerestory carriages, plus a matching bogie van, and three GCR horse boxes. Leading is a 1X5 or 1X6, followed by a pair to the preceding type (1X4).

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11B Class 4-4-0 No 1029 heads south near Whetstone with the 2.15pm Manchester-Marylebone express, all recently built matchboard stock with a GCR horse box behind the tender, another 1X4. Many long distance expresses were allowed to convey horse boxes and this was an off-peak one; only the crack expresses were barred. Photo: C.M. Shoults.

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A useful view of three boxes to GCR 1X5 or 1X6 in a train at Woodford & Hinton, waiting on the Up loop to let an express pass. The class designation on the door is just visible. Note that both manual brake levers were still at the same end. And that train alarm gear has been added. Just visible beyond them is a GWR horse box. An Atlantic pauses at the main platform with an Up express while the "wooden platform" hosts a branch train.

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This is believed to be a Leicester-Chesterfield Ordinary Passenger train c1922. Behind the Atlantic are six GCR horse boxes, a 4w van of some kind, and at least two carriages.The horse boxes are a mixture of types, the leading three being early designs similar to 1X1. The ones further back look more recently built but are not clear enough to recognise.

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It's 8th April 1939 and B17 No 2862 Manchester United is passing Welwyn Garden City with an Up Cambridge express. I suspect that this is a "Beer Train" strengthened for the Saturday but a combination of haze and drifting exhaust has shrouded the details. Behind the tender is an ex-GCR horse box to Dia 1X4 still in top flight service despite its grease axleboxes. Photo: E.R. Wethersett.

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Horse and race traffic: is here.

GC models are here:

GCR horse boxes in GCR an LNER days.

GCR carriages - 50ft clerestory.

GCR carriages - 60ft matchboard.

milk vans

6w goods brake van

GCR bogie fish

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