The Railway Clearing House designated open goods wagons of standard length as 'Low', 'Medium' or
'High'. Low wagons had a drop side one timber plank high, medium wagons usually had drop sides of
three timber planks in height, and high wagons had taller sides, mainly with a centre drop door
(similar to 9604).
Over 10,000 medium goods wagons were built to London, Midland & Scottish Railway (LMSR)
diagram D1927 between 1935 and 1949 for general merchandise, which was usually goods in large
packing cases but sometimes containers or wheeled vehicles such as farm equipment or tractors.
474558 was one of 650 handbrake-only wagons built under Lot No.1014 (comprising Nos. 474500–
475149) in 1937 by wagon builder Metropolitan-Cammell at Saltley, near Birmingham, for the LMSR.
The original load capacity of 12 tons was uprated to 13 tons during WW2. In the mid-1950s, in an
effort to speed up goods trains, British Railways fitted M474558 with vacuum braking. It was later
transferred to departmental service and was used to carry spent ballast from work site to tip until
it was withdrawn in November 1964. As DM474558 it was purchased by a BRPS member for the Bluebell
and arrived on 17 May 1965.
Although in excess of 10,000 of these wagons were built, this is a relatively small quantity in
railway terms. Unless there was a block load of tractors for export or something similar it would
be most unusual to find more than one of them in a long goods train. When this and M480222 were
identified for repair it was decided to revert M474558 to its pre-nationalisation condition for
use in Grouping heritage goods trains, since M480222 was built by BR in 1949.
The 1950s braking modification involved the fitting of an additional set of brake blocks (blocks
were only fitted on one side as built) and an 18 inch diameter vacuum cylinder together with a
suitably modified brakeshaft. The original spindle buffers were replaced by BR self-contained
rubber buffers which, being longer than the originals, enabled the vacuum braked wagon to be
screw coupled instead of being coupled with a 3-link coupling as used on unfitted wagons.
These modifications have now been removed and 474558 now displays a basic Morton handbrake, as
fitted to many LMS wagons. It has been painted in LMS light grey with small lettering, as there
is photographic evidence of a later vehicle from the same lot being out-shopped in this style.
The LMS changed its wagon livery to bauxite in 1937, but the small lettering style was introduced
in 1936. Other post-nationalisation modifications to the bodywork have also been reverted to
original. Full details and photographs of the wagon's latest overhaul may be found
Compare this planked design with the similar M480222 and the later
steel-bodied B458525 and B461224.
At the end of 2008 this wagon was sold to a group of C&W Department
members, and in 2020 it was donated by them to The Bluebell Railway Trust, guaranteeing its future on the Railway.
An Illustrated History of LMS Wagons – Volume 1, by R.J.Essery. Published by OPC, 1981. ISBN 86093 127 7
An Illustrated History of LMS Wagons – Volume 2, by R.J.Essery. Published by OPC, 1983. ISBN 86093 255 9
The LMS Wagon, by Essery & Morgan. Published by David & Charles, 1977. ISBN 0 71537 357 9
These books are no longer available new. Why not try the Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes for a used
copy on your next visit?