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Southern Railway
12 Ton Ventilated Goods Van No. 47588


12 Ton Ventilated Goods Van No. 47588, as restored in the 1990s Richard Salmon

The standard SR diagram 1428 9ft. wheelbase ventilated goods van was developed from the final SECR pattern van (see 15750), itself a Maunsell design. In October 1931 as part of order A578, 150 12 ton capacity ventilated goods vans were built at Ashford Works. These were built with 'Power' type vacuum brake rigging with an 18in diameter vacuum cylinder and 8 brake blocks, giving them a tare weight of 7tons 7cwt and were numbered 47551-47700.

Although the smallest goods carrier of the "Big Four" post-Grouping companies the Southern Railway owned almost 37,000 goods wagons in 1923 and continued to derive a quarter of its rail traffic receipts from goods. By contrast the LNER inherited over 240,000 revenue goods wagons at the Grouping; neither figure including the fleets of privately-owned coal wagons. The Railway Clearing House (RCH) was an organisation which coordinated the business of the railways. It calculated fees for each railway's carriage of another's passenger and goods business and arranged periodic payments to restore the balance. It also secured agreements between the railways for a pool of unfitted goods wagons of standard designs for the carriage of general merchandise This allowed the wagons to carry loads for any of the companies and, because they utilised standard components, to be repaired anywhere on the railway system Vehicles fitted with vacuum braking were non common-user and not part of this pool. Unless they had a return load, they would be returned to the SR empty. Such vehicles were marked with an 'N' on each corner.

47588 continued in revenue service until 1964, when it was withdrawn and converted to a mobile carriage battery charging plant. It was put into "Internal Use" at Fratton and given the number 082048. It was finally withdrawn from use in 1976 and was purchased for the Bluebell Railway, arriving in February 1977.

Andrew Cruttenden, a young C&W volunteer, was heavily involved in its initial restoration. He died aged 18 in a motorbike accident in 1986 and a plaque on one solebar of the van commemorates him.

In 2002, repairs to the roof and re-canvassing were undertaken and 47588 was repainted by C&W volunteers in pre-1937 livery - SR chocolate brown with large lettering.

Recommended reading:

An Illustrated History of Southern Wagons - Volume Four, by Messrs. Bixley, Blackburn, Chorley and King;
published by The Oxford Publishing Company, 2002. ISBN 086093 5647.
This book may be available from the Bluebell Railway shop.

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