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London Midland & Scottish Railway
3-plank drop-side medium open goods wagon 474558

LMS drop-side medium open goods wagon 474558 - Andy Prime - November 2009

LMS 474558 as restored in November 2009. The end of M480222 can also be
seen, illustrating the difference in end ironwork between the two designs. Andy Prime

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It was later transferred to departmental service and was used to carry spent ballast from work site to tip until it was withdrawn in November 1964.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 2008-9 overhaul may be found here.

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.

More recently it came into the works in 2023 for what was expected to be a quick intermediate overhaul, undertaken by The Bluebell Railway Goods Division. However, once the floor was removed, it was discovered that there was significant corrosion on the underframe, which in addition to other repairs has involved the complete replacement of one headstock and the welding on of a new top flange on one sole-bar. The top-planks all round have been replaced, and all the metalwork stripped back and treated to reduce future corrosion. The "after" photo shows it on 4 April 2024, and the "before" (by Matt Lander) on 8 May 2023.

474558 before its overhaul started - Matt Lander - 8 May 2023 474558 after its overhaul - Bluebell Railway Goods Division - 4 April 2024

Compare this planked design with the similar M480222 and the later steel-bodied B458525 and B461224.

LMS drop-side medium open goods wagon 474558 in Bauxite - Richard Salmon - February 1992

The wagon in its BR condition, and as running on the Bluebell in February 1992. Richard Salmon

Recommended reading:
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?

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