This page uses Cascading Style Sheets to present the content in the best possible manner. If you can see this message, then CSS (or JavaScript) is not enabled in your browser, and the page will not appear as the designer intended.

LMSS Masthead

Fostering Interest in Research & Modelling of the London, Midland & Scottish Railway


D1870 Luggage Van An early Lot 690 example of a Luggage and Parcel Van to D1870, No 37714. Note the full livery and 'standard' insignia placing.


At a very early date all the railways discovered that there was a considerable sum of extra revenue to be had by transporting goods in or at passenger train speeds. Since the very early instances of this high speed goods services were physically conveyed from passenger stations to passenger stations by passenger carrying trains, the revenue obviously went to the passenger revenue account. This in turn lead eventually to goods vehicles being built for this traffic and, therefore, being charged against passenger accounts.

On the operating side of the railways the need was for vehicles which could operate safely at passenger speeds which obviously require rather more advanced springing, braking, and lubrication than ordinary goods vehicles. Thus there came into being two types of non-passenger coaching stock, that which was N.P.C.S. because it was charged against passenger revenue, and that which was N.P.C.S. because it was mechanically the equal to a coach.

Early LMS Vehicles

The LMS inherited N.P.C.S. vehicles from its constituents which were so called because they were charged against passenger revenue only, because they were charged to and built to passenger specification, and some which were built to passenger specification but charged to goods. Most, if not all, these last type were transferred to the passenger account in the 1932 renumbering. The LMS then proceeded to build further vehicles, some to passenger specification, some to goods specification, but to charge them all to passenger accounts thus both types of vehicle received semi-passenger livery and numbers.

In 1923 the probable accepted specification for passenger stock was minimum 12'0" wheelbase and 21'0" over headstocks, 3'6" diameter wheels, continuous brake gear, screw couplings and passenger type buffers. The LMS then proceeded to build several hundred fish vans allocated to passenger stocks which were fitted or piped only variations of the current design in 17'6" long goods vans, first on 9'0" wheelbase and later on 10'0" wheelbase chassis. This cannot have been helpful to the operating department who sooner or later must have been faced with the problem of running a passenger rated fish train with piped only vehicles!

The LMS's main initial building efforts at proper non-passenger coaching stock was directed to variations of a theme on the MR six wheeled slotted milk van. LMS versions of this vehicle came out as covered carriage trucks, Motor car vans, milk vans (slatted or louvred, or slatted and louvred) and fish vans. The design allowed for the bodies to be mounted on new LMS underframes (virtually the standard MR design) ex-MR six wheel coach chassis or, with modifications to the length, on ex-LNWR or other six wheel coach chassis. It was an excellent way of assisting in implementing a policy of bogie vehicles only for passenger carrying. it gave a salvage value to the chassis of scrapped six wheeled coaches.

The bulk of the remainder of the early non-passenger coaching stock was either horse boxes or calf vans on 21'0"/12'0" wheelbase chassis, some of which were again second hand. The rest were bogie vehicles nearly all built to adjustable designs on second hand chassis as aeroplane or theatrical vans.

In the late nineteen twenties the railways started to convert from carrying milk in churns to in tank wagons. The LMS conformed with the other railways in building some four wheeled passenger rated chassis on to which the assorted large Dairies mounted their own stainless steel or glass lined tanks. These vehicles were involved in several derailments and as a result the passenger vehicle specification was changed about 1930 to minimum 15'0" wheelbase or six wheeled. All future milk tank chassis were built as close coupled six wheelers and all the previously produced four wheelers were converted to six wheelers.

Unfortunately, there seems to have been a breakdown in communications as the LMS continued to build 12'0" wheelbase horse-boxes until the end. Only one experimental 15'0" wheelbase horse box was built which meant that the only suitable vehicles available during the thirties and forties for transporting horses on the real high speed express trains were some ex-Caledonian six wheelers.

Later LMS Vehicles

In 1933 the LMS introduced a steel sheeted bogie van with side and end doors and foldaway wall racks which they called luggage and parcels van. This is a most important design as it was used for all sorts of passenger rated goods transport, parcels, perishable fruit and vegetables, motor cars, churn milk, theatrical props, and even fish. A few variants ere built with higher roofs as aeroplane vans and some fitted with reinforced floors as elephant vans. These vehicles became virtually the standard non-passenger coaching stock vehicle of the LMS to the end and beyond.

In the late thirties in order to fulfill customers' demands the six wheel chassis was resurrected with an insulated body as a cream van, and similar insulated bodies were provided on four six and eight wheeled chassis for conveying Palethorpes sausages. The final fling of the six wheel chassis came post-War when in response to Government encouragement some very handsome vertically boarded four door fish bodies were built on this chassis.

Full Brakes

Full brakes have not been covered in the foregoing as it is a moot point as to whether they are passenger vehicles or non-passenger coaching stock. Photographic evidence suggests that most of them were used as parcels vans most of the time which makes one wonder why the LMS and BR went to the expense of providing the guards equipment which is very rarely used. However, the LMS did provide special brake vans for parcels and perishable trains which not only conformed to the passenger coaching stock specification but provided the guard with a stove. This was a necessary provision as few N.P.C.S. vehicles carried steam heating pipes and there was, therefore, no way of connecting the guard to the steam heat from the engine. This was initially done by fitting pre-group six wheel or short bogie full brakes with a stove and branding them "STOVE". Although many of these converted stoves saw service well into B.R. days they were beginning to get a bit obsolete in 1932 and so the six wheel STOVE R brakes were built. These vehicles were obviously intended as guard's accommodation in trains of non-passenger coaching stock but like the bogie brakes many were used as parcels vans for much of their working life.


Non-passenger coaching stock was initially tacked on to a passenger train as necessary but as the traffic developed then the need for complete trains of such vehicles became obvious. Most pre-group railways had fish, milk or parcels trains which did not carry passengers and frequently Mail and Newspaper trains had only taken, if any, passenger accommodation. Special trains were run of horse boxes to race courses and fairs, and of covered carriage tracks to motor vehicle exhibitions but for the most part it was in 1923 still tacking vehicles on to passenger trains as necessary. This practice had, however, proved inconvenient to the LNWR and in order to stabilise the loadings of their =in passenger services had instituted a daily "Horse and Carriage" train service over most of their principal routes. These trains picked up and put down as necessary non-passenger coaching stock vehicles en route and proved to be an efficient way of dealing with the problem. The LNWR planned to extend the service to more routes but on the formation of the LMS the Midland who had not experienced the same problems as the LNWR had a major in service developments and so the expansion of the "Horse and Carriage" service was delayed until the need for such a service could no longer be ignored.

For practical model railway purposes non-passenger coaching stock is an attractive proposition. A suitable vehicle can provide a splash of colour in a freight train. Transferred to a passenger train at a station this provides something for the passenger train to do other than stop and start and eventually link up with similar vehicles to form a perishable or parcels train. Such a train can be a full 'equal to thirty' load, or like the Longbridge parcels, one engine one full brake. Full trains of N.P.C.S. were frequently over powered at some time if not throughout their journey, so if you fancy a Duchess, three milk tanks, a bogie brake and another milk tank that is authentic. All such trains did have brake vans either Stove R or fitted 16'0" wheelbase goods brakes, again with stove, but these were rarely at the end of the train. A vehicle or two behind the brake gave the guard a much better ride and he, therefore, usually saw to it that his vehicle was near the end but not at the end. When fitted vehicles which do not conform to the non-passenger coaching stock specification are incorporated into the train this does not change the formation or the coding but does lower the speed at which the train may run to that of the lowest rated vehicle.

Further Reading

David Jenkinson and Bob Essery, The Illustrated History of LMS Standard Coaching Stock Vol 1. OPC 1991 ISBN 0 86093 450 0

Peter Tatlow, Historic Carriage Drawings Vol 3 NPCS. Pendragon Partnership 2000 ISBN 1 899816 09 7


Site contents Copyright © LMS Society, 2020.