Wednesday, 24 October 2012

MOTW - Van 59

This is my scratchbuilt model of a van which has had very peripatetic existence.

It started out as a cattle wagon on the Vale of Rheidol Railway, being built at the GWR's Swindon works in 1923.

15 years later the company re-gauged it (to 2'6") and transferred it eastwards to one of its other Welsh NG outposts, the Welshpool & Llanfair Railway where it stayed for another 20 years until it was purchased in the early years of the FR revival, and re-gauged back to 2 foot (give or take half an inch).

It was rebuilt by volunteers in Buckinghamshire and first saw use on the FR in 1968.

Van 59 has been used to carry all manner of irregular cargoes over the years including horses and more recently, as you can see from the picture, with the intention of deploying it as a bicycle van, although I don't ever recall seeing it being used for that purpose.

Its great versatility to the railway comes from it being fitted with a vacuum pipe connection (and more recently its own cylinder) which means it can be marshaled into passenger trains, which has led to its most notorious duties as the host of a small generator providing power for the lights and sound system on volunteers'  'disco train' charters.

It also performed a similar role during a gala event in 2002 when it again carried a generator to power the lights in the train as 'Blanche' ran through the night during 84 hours of continuous running.

Another interesting fact, which I have only just discovered, is that the red handbrake wheel you can see in the picture is the original wheel from 'Palmerston'.  

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