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LMSS Masthead

LMS Wagons

D1666 High Sided Goods Wagon D1666 High sided Goods Wagon, Number 247185. A total of 54,450 these open goods wagons were completed during the period 1923-1930, the first 1,000 to Midland Railway lot 1005. Numerically it was the most prolific LMS wagon design.

The LMS Railway Company, at the time of the grouping in January 1923 inherited some 305,000 wagons from the constituent companies. The first world war with its many and heavy demands on the workshops of this country, affected the facilities available for the building and repair of wagons which thereby were severely curtailed. as a direct result, many life expired and small capacity wagons had been retained in service. The early post war years too were full of uncertainty, and many companies faced with the prospect of losing their individual identities under the Amalgamation Act of 1921, were loathe to incur any capital expenditure, other than that which was absolutely necessary.

The total of wagons with a reasonable life expectancy, was therefore considerably below the book total, it was obvious that a large replacement programme would have to be undertaken by the new company, and this the LMS proceeded to do in no uncertain manner. The first year was no doubt spent in settling policy, new construction in this year was confined to certain pre-grouping types, built to their original owners orders or 'lots' as they were generally known. It is not certain how many new wagons were placed into traffic in 1923, but by the end of the year the LMS was ready to build to its own orders and designs.

As in other departments, Midland Railway practice predominated, and many of the new designs were in fact up-dated versions of existing MR types. In 1924 no less than 18,264 new wagons were built, all but a handful being of LMS design. A comparable rate of construction was maintained until the end of 1930, by which time a total of 106,000 wagons of LMS design had entered service. In seven years therefore, a total equivalent to one-third of the wagons taken over at grouping had been built. In fact the proportion of new wagons to total stock was somewhat higher, since the overall total had been reduced by the end of the period to about 283,000. This reduction was achieved with little if any loss to overall carrying capacity, since the new wagons in general had a higher capacity than those they replaced.

The 1930's saw a world wide drop in trade, and this period known as the depression was reflected by a sudden and dramatic drop in the wagon building programme. In 1931 only 2,665 new wagons were built and in 1932 this figure dropped still further to 1,987. Thereafter the figures improved somewhat, and in 1936/7 production was again into five figures, a total of 24,721 wagons for the two years being registered. This no doubt reflected the monetary aid which the railways received at this time from the government, as part of a scheme to alleviate the unemployment problem. The final period of the LMS era was an almost carbon copy of the final years of the pre-grouping age. For the second world war was followed by a post war period of shortages and uncertainty, which culminated in the nationalisation act by which the LMS lost its individual existence, though not its influence. From 1938 to 1947 production of new wagons averaged about 5,000 a year, apart from 1941, where the dark times this country was facing is reflected in the lowest figure for new wagons recorded by the LMS at 1,718. During the twenty-five years of its existence the LMS built some 206,000 new wagons of all types, over half of these being built in the first seven years.

The majority of the wagons built by the LMS for ordinary goods traffic, had a carrying capacity of twelve tons, and were 17'6" long over headstocks. They were mounted on four wheels the wheelbase on those built up to 1930 being 9'0" increased in the majority of cases to 10'0" for those built after 1930. In the period 1924-30 the emphasis was on open goods wagons, of the high sided type. A total of 60,000 of this type was built in the period, all having wooden bodies, the majority having wooden underframes also. Mineral wagons were also built in some quantity, 21,000 to a standard R.C.H. type with wooden body and underframe 16'6" long being built. The third highest total was achieved by the covered goods vans, these all had steel underframes, the majority having wooden bodies, though some steel bodied examples appeared, while corrugated steel ends also featured on much of the construction 11,770 covered goods were produced during the period, and the three types mentioned above, thus accounted for 92,770 out of the total production of 106,000. The remaining wagons built during this early period can be summarised as follows:-

Brake Vans1800Banana Vans1000
Beer Vans100Cattle Wagons4385
Deal Wagons150Double Bolster1600
Gunpowder Vans75Hooper Wagons825
Plate Wagons600Refrigerator Vans750
Meat Vans500Tube Wagons250
Special Wagons541Tank Wagons31


It is of interest to note, that the LMS built no further meat or refrigeration vans after 1930, their duties being largely taken over by containers. Whilst of the other types, the beer vans also represent total LMS production, and only 100 more banana vans were produced, these appearing in 1946. The majority of the wagons built in this early period, showed little improvement over their late pre-grouping predecessors, and indeed as has already been noted some were merely up-dated versions of earlier designs, many of them having wooden underframes. The open goods and mineral wagons were provided only with simple handbrakes, while among the remaining types vacuum brakes were only fitted to a relatively small number of vehicles.

After 1930 most of the wagons built were to an improved standard, and thus made up in quality what they lacked in quantity. Steel underframes were much more widely used, Whilst vacuum fitted wagons formed a larger proportion of the total, even so unfitted wagons continued to be built up to 1947. In contrast to the earlier period, 1931-47 saw only 32,000 open goods wagons added to stock, these were of high, medium and low sided types and all had a 10'0" wheelbase. Covered goods vans built in the same period were also of 10'0" wheelbase and totaled 31,220 thus almost equalling the open variety, though over the whole period the totals were still two to one in favour of the latter. A further, 16,650 mineral wagons were also added to stock, the majority being of the same type as those built 1924-30, though in 1947 the LMS version of the 16 ton all steel wagon appeared some 2,600 being built in the last two years before nationalisation.

The remaining wagons built between 1931-47 can again be summarised as follows:

Brake Vans2700Banana Vans100
Ballast Wagons3160Cattle Wagons900
Deal Wagons100Double Bolsters1400
Gunpowder Vans125Hooper Wagons2088
Loco Coal1594Plate Wagons2125
Sand Wagons100Sleeper Wagons459
Single Bolsters1412Special Wagons725
Tank Wagons14Tube Wagons1500


All of the brake vans built for normal service at the LMS had a weight of 20 tons, those built before 1938 being 20'0" long and a 12'0" wheelbase. In 1933 an intermediate type having the same length but on 14'0" wheelbase appeared, these being followed in 1934 by the final types which were 24'0" long on a 16'0" wheelbase, several variations in design being encountered, the final one of which was perpetuated by B.R. for some time.

The last cattle wagons built by the LMS appeared in 1935, all apart from the last lot having wooden underframes. Those built between 1924-34 being 19'1" long on an 11'0" wheelbase, while the last type built in 1935 were 18'6" long on a steel underframe, having the same wheelbase as the earlier types.

The remaining wagons while numerically forming a small percentage of the total, were of a great many different types. Most of the vans for such traffic as Bananas etc. were of very similar appearance to the covered goods. While the open vehicles such as tube and plate wagons were similar to the open goods though of considerably greater length. Among the more specialised wagons may be mentioned the 40 ton Hopper Coal Wagons for the LMS power station at Stonebridge Park, while among the wagons classed by the LMS as "Special" several very large trollies were built, the largest of which had a carrying capacity of 120 tons.

Further Reading

R.J Essery, An Illustrated History of LMS Wagons Vol 1. OPC 1981 ISBN 0 86093 127 7

R.J Essery, An Illustrated History of LMS Wagons Vol 2. OPC 1983 ISBN 0 86093 255 9

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