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Fish Traffic

Technically fish was a freight traffic, of the perishable kind, but for most of the steam era it was delivered by goods and passenger trains. There were also different kinds of fish and that affected where they were landed and the routes inland that were taken. The passenger side was the most interesting - and the most modellable - so I'll be focussing on that more than the goods side via captioned pictures in the usual way, and in chronological order because like most traffics, there were developments and things changed quite visibly, depending on whether you're interested in the pre-Groupling period, Big Four or BR. Please forgive me for an LNER bias because that's my forte but the traffic was a cross-country one so other regions will get a look in.

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A GCR official from 1903 showing the first Robinson Class 8 (LNER B5) 4-6-0 No 1069 posed by Neasden carriage sidings with the empties from a Grimsby-Marylebone fish train, the longest run on this company's line. Photo: LNER Press Section, author's collection.

The fish van fleet was being modernised and seven different designs of wagon can be seen (which I have gone into details under "GCR bogie fish vans", see link below). Some were on the point of being replaced but others lasted well into LNER days and show in pictures lower down.

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Another pre-Grouping picture taken on the NER at Low Fell shows an Ordinary Passenger train headed by Tennant 2-4-0 No 1446. The passenger train has been made up with six early arc-roofed carriages and is conveying at the head, three NER open fish wagons which were used to deliver fish in tanks of water. This kind of delivery was gradually replaced by ventilated fish vans packed with ice.

See Peter Tatlow "LNER Goods Wagons-2 NE Area", p88. Some of these trucks were only about 25 years old when they were phased out in the 1920s. Photo: Author's collection.

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From about the same period, this scene on the GWR at Weymouth shows 517 class 0-4-2T No 1428 with a train of Dean clerestories. A 6w Siphon is being conveyed and a GCR 5T louvred fish van which would have been worked south from Grimsby, possibly carrying distant waters fish such as cod or haddock, which was landed in the north, or herring depending on the season. Photo: LGRP.

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Still going strong c1930 is an ex-GNR open fish wagon clearly labelled "FISH" at the head of an Ordinary Passenger at York headed by D49 No 329 Inverness-shire. The loco was first allocated variously to Perth and York (the latter between 1928-31) and this looks like an empty Up working.

The fish truck looks in good condition although the tarpaulin bar is missing. (See Peter Tatlow "LNER Wagons-1 Southern Area", p.24). It's hard to say if it was still being used as a fish truck. Photo: Author's collection.

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A closer look shows that the wagon number is 413214 and that the carriage behind it is recently ex-works ex-H&BR. The evening sun suggests the 7pm York-Hull train which in 1932 was rostered for a 4-set (BT,CL,T,BT) strengthened to 7 carriages for this trip with (CL,T) behind the loco and BT on the rear. So the fragment of the carriage visible could be one of the former. All three were taken off after arrival at Hull at 7.57pm.

Pity no more of the train is visible for this Hull-York roster was used to carry all sorts during the day, beginning with a 6w milk van first thing in the morning, the return trip carrying a 6w brake van, presumably with parcels for Hull. Attaching an empty fish truck at the the same time as the 7pm strengtheners would have been convenient.

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A 1930s scene on the Lickey with Johnson 4-4-0 No 529 heading a Worcester-Birmingham Ordinary Passenger made up with 5 coaches. On the rear are a couple of unidentified vans or NPCS and behind the loco, three empty fish vans being returned to the LNER. Photo: Author's collection:

- LNER steel ended van (1934+) with "fish" plate
- ex-GCR fish van
- LNER perishable van (1931) with "fish" plate?

The leading fish van looks recently built and suggests a date of mid-late 1930s. Note how pre-Grouping wagons were still in service, this GCR one lasting into the 1940s.

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The other side of the coin is shown by V2 No 60884 in August 1958 near Grantham with Down fish empties. The variety of vans has faded away and white-painted Insulvans stand out. Photo: Peter Groom.

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To be continued....

GCR bogie fish vans and traffic - are here.

Building the models - is here.

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