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LNER NPCS - 61'6" BG steel-panelled

Gresley began to employ steel panelling in 1935 for various designs, mostly secondary passenger but also a 61'6" gangwayed bogie van (BG) to D.198 - and subsequently to D.245 and D.260 during WWII. The latter pair had originated as teak-panelled designs and that's what the Diagrams show, but when stocks of teak began to run out, steel panelling was employed (and possibly also using marine plywood although details of this are hard to find).

I covered the history and a model in Model Rail:

"Eastern Services in Transition" - History of the Gresley steel panelled BG - December 2005
"Eastern Services in Transition" - Model of the above using parts from MJT and Comet Models - February 2006

This ran to nine pages altogether and I don't want to repeat myself but can add the Diagram, an expanded list of running numbers, and some fresh illustrations.

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The Diagram shows the layout well and use of the Gresley heavy 8'0" bogie. When steel-panelled versions D.245 (with drop-down shelves) and D.260 were produced, new or variant Diagrams were not generated on the grounds that the drawing on D.198 was perfectly adequate. Diagram: author's collection.

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When I listed the Diagrams and running numbers in the Model Rail articles the numbers for 1940 were omitted so here is the complete list of the steel-panelled versions:



LNER number

Thompson/BR number




70363/-, 114, 70384-5
















1000, 70387-91/-, 1007-9, 70305;  



799, 7100
































* 112-113 became 4198-9 in May 1938. The second one was subsequently lost during WW2.

Simulated LNER-style teak panelling and lining were painted on originally but I have no decent ex-works view to show this. One of the train views used with the Model Rail article shows it quite well but it's better to look at ex-works views of the all-steel BG to D.45 (see links below).

Note how the vast majority was for the London end of the system: ECML, GN and GE Sections. Only a few were supplied to the GC Section and almost none to the NE or the two Scottish Areas. This needs more work but it would have been related to traffic and stock needs, its age, and the priorities of course. Different parts of the LNER were much less uniform than is generally supposed and the notion of "Standard" designs was a book-keeping exercise. It's evident that there were regional concentrations plus the fact that through vans travelled further afield. In BR days they became widespread, of course, and served all over the UK.

The static views are in chronological order of when seen and supplementary to the ones used in the Model Rail article.

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1942-built D.260 as 6864 for the GE Section - now E70546E is in fine condition on 25th April 1957 at Plymouth Priory, in BR crimson livery. Note the clip on the lower RH corner carrying a delivery note. Photo: S.V. Blencowe Collection.

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1940-built to D.260 as 6852 for the GE Section - now E70534E was captured at Knebworth on 27th April 1969 carrying BR blue Parcels Express livery. Photo: David Percival.

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1941-built D.245 as 4071 for the GN Section - now E70443E at Chester post-steam era in March 1972.

It may not be the finest photograph but it's the version with drop-down shelves built almost entirely for the GN Section and they can be seen through the toplights. It's on the rear of an unknown train, hence the white tail lamp. Photo: Author's collection.

"A1" is being carried in the outermost toplight and three labels pasted on the side of the body: HC 48, HC 49 and HC51. If anybody can shed any light on these I'd be pleased to hear.

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Another picture from 1972 in BR blue shows another 1941-built D.245 for the GN Section as No 4069, now No.E70442E. My apologies for the quality of a much repaired image that should have gone in the darkroom bin and never been put on sale. It's heavily over-printed, which is impossible to correct well, and a hundred flecks of dust and debris which have taken hours to repair the worst - grrr! I've added it because it's another example of LNER WW2 construction still in good condition in the post-steam era (2/1972 at Keighley). Photo: author's collection, origin unknown.

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I was given this picture long ago with no info on the back. It may be one of two on the preserved GCR Line:

1936 D.198 No 70361
1941 D.245 No 70427

It's not the sharpest of views but useful for showing the steel handrails and the brass door handle. Photo: author's collection.

I have another BR-period picture in b&w taken in 1978 (of 1936-built D.198 No E70380E). It was 42 years old and decay of the body and roof is not pleasant to see, yet it was still still in service!

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In service

To amplify my earlier comments about geographic distribution of these vans, here's a summary:

GN Section


  NS Area


GE Section


  SS Area




  NE Area


GC Section


It's evident that more of these vans were used on the GN Section, GNML and ECML than anywhere else but it's going to take longer to find out exactly why. There's no shortage of service pictures: there were five with the original article, here's another five:

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This late 1930s picture of A4 No 4493 Woodcock at Marshmoor in charge of a secondary service can be difficult to understand and is the kind often captioned erroneously as a "semi-fast" train. It's a long distance Ordinary Passenger being hauled by a Top Link loco in either an unbalanced working or to give the crew, employed on night duties, for example, a lighter turn. It also shows how flexibly secondary services were operated, and how a Saturdays working was modified. This may not be the place to describe all the nuts and bolts of a roster like this but it boils down to this:

4.15pm KX-Leeds

- The body of the train comprises a steel-panelled gangwayed "steel quintuple set" (BTK-TK, CK, TK-BTK)
- On the rear is a teak twin (BT-CL) for Baldock, to be detached at Hitchin.
- At the head is a Saturday strengthener (BTK) for Grantham where it will be detached. The A4 may come off with it and another loco take over for the run to Doncaster (and possibly as far as Leeds).
- The formation arriving at Doncaster will comprise the SQS and the two bogie vans behind it, which are:
BG steel panelled D.198 (GN Section) which will stay attached to Leeds Central.
BG all-steel D.45 (ECJS) which will be dropped off at Doncaster and be sent on to York and eventually, Glasgow.

Behind the tender was an ad-hoc covered carriage truck (CCT) which was placed there so that the train loco could detach and shunt it at whichever wayside station it was destined for.

It's all a good example of how much of the parcels traffic on the GN Section and ECML was not run in parcels trains but attached to normal passenger services and you can see how the various parts of the train were distributed along the way. During the week two lesser bogie vans ran alongside the two BGs seen here: they were ex-GNR designs, unlike the principal ones running daily which were being modernised.

The extent to which Gresley used steel-bodies and steel-panelling many years before Thompson is often under-appreciated and here's a train in which three-quarters of the carriages were of this type. Photo: Colling Turner.

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Another view from the late 1930s but simpler to describe shows A3 No 2504 Sandwich near Brookmans Park with an express with catering (possibly RF+RTP) and, behind the tender, a through van without destination boards to D.198.

Being in general service the BG has not been washed for a long time and is covered in traffic dust, but on the original print it's just possible to make out the horizontal lining and some of the vertical "panelling" above the waist. Photo: Photomatic.

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A3 No 60091 Captain Cuttle in BR blue livery has a Down express at an unknown location with a recently shopped train in the experimental claret and cream livery. Leading with destination boards on the roof and clearly part of the passenger formation is a steel-panelled BG, either D.198 or one of the D.245 or D.260 which were steel-panelled. All the passenger carriages that can be made out behind the BG are Thompsons. Photo: M.L. Boakes Collection.

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Revised/more detailed caption:

A2 No 60508 Duke of Rothsey is passing through Sandy on Wednesday 30th July 1952 with a secondary express in which the core is a Gresley steel-panelled quintuple set (BTK-TK, CK,TK-BTK) in which the CK has been modernised by the Thompson version. They are led by a through van, D.198-style steel-panelled BG. It's another example of a train dominated by, in this case, five Gresley steel-panelled designs.

The two elderly carriages behind the tender were rostered for ex-GNR (TK,FK) and were still in ex-LNER varnished teak.

This was a complex roster and the picture shows the 4.10pm KX-Peterborough Express, which ran on to Grantham as an Ordinary Passenger with the BG delivering parcels for wayside stations, some for forwarding to Stamford and Lincoln. Other carriages in this train also carried parcels traffic but the BG was the busiest one.

At Grantham the SQS was detached and used for a working to Nottingham, returning the following morning to be reunited with the ex-GNR pair and BG to form part of a heavy Up train of 12-13 carriages for King's Cross. Photo: Les Hanson.

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A scene from 1954 shows the railway in transition, as it pretty well always was, of course. Dundee's grimy V2 No 60969 is between Aberdeen and Dundee with an express having just passed through Kinnaber Junction on the approach to Montrose.

The formation is being modernised with BR Mk.1 stock in carmine & cream but the BG at the head, in BR crimson and carrying a destination board as part of the passenger formation, is a Gresley steel-panelled BG. Photo: E.R. Morten.

To be continued with the model.

Related NPCS via these links:

ECJS and GNR clerestory BG: is here.

56'6" ECJS and GNR BG: is here.

D.86 and D.87 general and milk vans is here.

Gresley all-steel BG (D.45) prototype and model is here.

Gresley all-steel BG (D.45) service is here.

Thompson 61'6" deal BG: is here.

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