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South Eastern & Chatham Railway
12 Ton 7-plank Open Goods Wagon No.5542

SECR 7-plank 5542

Bluebell Railway Wagons - SECR 7-plank 5542, Martin Skrzetuszewski

This is an example of a Southern Railway diagram 1355 12 Ton 7-plank Open Goods Wagon built at Ashford Works. A prototype was built by the SECR in 1915 and tested in service. 2120 more of these were built between 1919 and 1927 (see 16194 ). They had a 12 Ton capacity, a wheelbase of nine feet six inches and were fitted with self-contained buffers.

The carrying capacity of 12 Ton open wagons was increased to 13 Tons during the Second World War. This wagon continued in service with British Railways until 1958/59, when it was withdrawn and sold to the Port of Bristol Authority, being renumbered PBA 59542. It was purchased from Bristol for the Bluebell Railway by the Late Charles Pyne and Pete Reid, arriving in June 1981.

The PBA kept no record of the original numbers of their wagons, but we know that this one is SR built (i.e post-Grouping) as the solebars are drilled to take only a larger oval SR numberplate. However, as it was intended that the wagon should re-enter service at the SECR Centenary Weekend in August 1999, it was repainted in SECR dark-grey livery and an appropriate SECR number (close to its PBA one) was chosen and applied. 5542 was one of a lot of 600 built at Ashford Works (Kent) in 1920/21.

SECR 7-plank 5542

The photo above shows PBA 59542 in its condition prior to restoration, Richard Salmon

As can be seen from the photo, the wagon was missing its "cupboard" doors when it arrived and much of the remaining door ironwork ultimately, required replacement. Perhaps when 16358 is rebuilt and restored, this wagon will be repainted and renumbered as a SR vehicle.....?

An appropriate number has been chosen; this being SR 28542, which was one of 500 built as part of order number A28 at Ashford Works. It was completed in February 1926 and was withdrawn in March 1959.

Recommended reading:

An Illustrated History of Southern Wagons - Volume Three, by Messrs. Bixley, Blackburn, Chorley and King; published by The Oxford Publishing Company, 2000.
ISBN 086093 4934.
This book may be available from the Bluebell Railway shop.

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Valid HTML 4.0 Transitional! Photos © Martin Skrzetuszewski and Richard Salmon
Text© Martin Skrzetuszewski.
Additional research by Ted Crawforth
Page last updated by Nick Beck, 15 January 2014
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