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GCR 15 ton bogie fish vans

The extended 45' bogie fish vans were introduced in 1903, originally with louvred ventilation and carrying lined passenger livery. A slatted version followed in 1913, conversion of the previous ones to the same format, and a change to goods livery. Running numbers of the two types were, respectively:

GC.58 30134-50
GC.59 38431-55

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The classic official portrait of No 30147 as built by Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Co.Ltd. in 1903. The low roof is deceptive for the length of 45' was normal at the time for the GCR's non-gangwayed passenger carriages, both clerestory and London Suburban. The livery was dark brown with plentiful lining and the legend in the middle, "Return to Grimsby". Photo: LNER RF/139.

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Official pictures rarely embraced non-passenger stock and here is "Fish Engine" Class 8 (LNER B5) posed beautifully with recently built fish vans. Leading is No 30147, subject of the official portrait.

Note that the train appears to be on the wrong line and may have been setting back, presumably to make best use of the location on a sunny day. Some years ago an attempt was made to identify where the picture was taken and one opinion was a park in Manchester.

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This view of a tired-looking No 30145 is uneven and I have tried to repair it. The original lined passenger livery is being carried. Photo: Author's collection.

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A GCR-period view at an unknown location, possibly Dukinfield, of the slatted version with a 4w fish truck behind it. A steam heat pipe had been fitted and there are no steps beneath the doors - which begs the question: had they been removed or never fitted to this version? At present I know of no photograph of the slatted version as-built.

The livery is unlined goods grey and in place of the "return to" legend a cast plate was now being carried, alas not quite legible. Photo: Author's collection.

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An LNER official photograph shows another slatted van, No 38451. Note how the end has been strengthened with extra, diagonal bracing.

AVB goods livery based on red oxide is being carried and for the first time, a designation of "FISH" is being worn, in small letters on the LH door. Conversions to parcels traffic would have lost this. The cast plate in the centre has been picked out with white paint (but I still cannot read it)! Photo: Author's collection.

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In service

With a fleet of 40 bogie fish vans one might have expected them to show up widely in service but this is not the case and few pictures of fish trains, many quite long, show their presence. It has been suggested that they were too large for traffic where vans were rostered for individual fish merchants. Apart from the odd photograph, I have a 1930s observation at Doncaster where one of these vans was transferred from a Hull train to the rear of a King's Cross-Leeds express.

It is known that the LNER began to sheet over the slats and use the vans as general purpose bogie vans. One observer recalled seeing them in the 1930s working out of Marylebone in either the 10pm "Down Mail" or the 2.32am Newspaper express. There is a published photograph on the GNML showing an Up express behind a large Ivatt Atlantic and when I analysed it I found that it was rostered for a GN Section bogie van but, coming back from Cleethorpes, an ex-GC bogie fish van was being carried instead.

An observer would have been able to tell between fish and parcels versions of these vans because hygiene of the former was not so good and the smell enough to make passengers waiting for a train to recoil. Now, as we look at old photographs and see an ex-GCR bogie fish van running with a passenger train, it is impossible to tell if fish or parcels were being carried.

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In a scene dated from 1924, D11 No 504c Jutland was captured between Culworth Jc and Woodford with an Ordinary Passenger 4-set of matchboard carriages, a bogie fish van and five empty cattle wagons on the rear.

It has been captioned as a "Brackley-Leicester" train but it was actually the 11.15am Marylebone-Leicester which was stopped at Brackley for 22 minutes and shunted into the Down laybye to let the 12.15pm Marylebone-Manchester call. The Leicester train was then put back in the platform to complete its journey. A Neasden "Director" was employed and the train a natural candidate for moving NPCS along the line. The cattle wagons would have been fitted with AVB. Photo: LGRP.

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In a view from the 1920s, D9 No 5110 King George V is awaiting departure from Nottingham Victoria with an Ordinary Passenger train. Behind the tender is a louvred bogie fish van. Photo: Author's collection.

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C4 No 6092 (LEI) is approaching Leicester with an Ordinary Passenger from Marylebone and a non-gangwayed 4-set of GCR/LNER hybrid stock. There's an unidentifiable 4w vehicle on the rear and, inside it, a bogie fish van, one of the louvred ones. Photo: LGRP.

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A fish train for Banbury is passing through Nottingham Victoria behind J39 No 1482 (IMM). A single bogie fish van can be seen, the slatted version. The next five are the LNER's fish van of 1927. Photo: Author's collection.

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Building the models is here.

Other GC NPCS:

GCR horse box

GCR milk van

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