This is one of 40 vans ordered from the Southern Railway by the Ministry of Supply during WW2. This type of van is
essentially a 1942 version (the bodyside planking being pairs of narrow planks) of a SR diagram 1579 goods brake
van (see 55993) but fitted with vacuum braking and a through Westinghouse air brake pipe.
Emergency brake application valves were fitted inside the cabin. The profile of the edge of the roof was
non-standard on these vans, which the MoS described as "Express" Goods Brake Vans.
Order number A1852 was for the second batch of 20 and was placed on 23rd. December 1941. The vans were built at
Ashford Works, Kent and completed/released to traffic on 25th. March 1942. As the vans were "privately" owned,
they were registered with SR (1942), this one being No.1032. Its original painted number was WD11037.
Some vans saw service abroad, particularly in North Africa. Others seem to have worked only within ordnance and
supply depots at home. The early history of this van is at present unknown, but in May 1949, it (together with
WD11029) was acquired from the MoS (Lot No.1599) for service with British Railways. It was given London Midland
Region number M360328 (WD11029 was given M360327). Its length of duty is unknown but at some point, it was returned
to the WD.
Over succeeding years, the WD became the MoD and the Army took over responsibility for all MoD rail operations.
Our van ended up as ARMY 49018. It was purchased from RAF Chilmark near Salisbury, Wiltshire by Tom Simcock and
Martin Skrzetuszewski in August 1991 and was delivered to Bluebell Railway by road.
After arrival and the replacement of a section of vacuum pipe, the van entered service. It was painted in SR colours.
Although much of the timberwork is original, some was replaced with plywood whilst in military service. One sandbox
had been removed in the process and this has been replaced by a dummy replica box. The stove was also removed but
the coal box left in place.
Having vacuum braking, the van has been part of almost every Imberhorne spoil train and is now showing signs of wear.
It is hoped that when SR 25 Ton "Queen Mary" brake 56290 is completed, the WD van
will be released for repairs, stove replacement etc.
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.