Southern Railway Engineers' Dept. 20 Ton dropside wagon, built in 1928.
This photo shows the wagon in September 2002, on completion of its overhaul. Richard Salmon
One of 60 such wagons built by the Southern Railway for engineers' use. The later (smaller, hand-brake-only) version of 15 Ton capacity was known as a "Tunny", and as a result this name has also been, incorrectly, applied to these earlier 20T versions.
These wagons were built principally for the Meldon Quarry ballast traffic. The Southern had their own quarry on Dartmoor. Trains of these vacuum-braked wagons would leave Meldon each week for engineering work around the railway, the traffic continuing to the present day, and these wagons had a very long life.
Some of the wagons were intended, also, for use in rapidly conveying replacement parts for damaged point-work from the Southern's engineering workshops to the site of any minor mishap (such as the running through of points, resulting in maybe a broken switch blade). The possibility of attaching these vacuum braked wagons to the back of a passenger train heading in the right direction would thus save a special train movement.
The wagon has been thoroughly overhauled by Alan Blackburn and Gerry Bixley, with considerable care and research undertaken to ensure the shade of "SR Orange Oxide" was as close as possible to paint samples obtained by Alan many years ago. The modern NCS colour reference is: 2080-Y70R.
The photos below show the wagon as it arrived on the Bluebell, and during the course of its overhaul.
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