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Southern Railway
25 ton bogie goods brake van 56290

Queen Mary Brake van compelted - Richard Salmon - 4 August 2021

The Queen Mary Brake Van after its quick overhaul and repaint, 4 August 2021 (Richard Salmon)

Queen Mary brake van - 12 April 2007 - Andy Prime

Another iconic Southern Railway vehicle was the bogie express goods brake van. Although the LMSR built three bogie goods brake vans, the SR was the only railway company to build them in any quantity. These vacuum-braked vans were intended to accomodate the guard on express vacuum brake piped/fitted goods trains, the bogies giving the guard a vastly improved ride over the usual four-wheeled types (see 55993). Despite the longer cabin, the only additional equipment inside was the emergency vacuum brake valve and gauge.

The photo on the right showns the van on its release into traffic, 12th April 2007 (Andy Prime)


56290 at Horsted Keynes, July 2006, Martin Skrzetuszewski

56290 was built to diagram No. 1550 and order No. A867 and was outshopped from the SR wagon works at Ashford (Kent) on 18th. July 1936. The underframe was built new at the SR carriage and wagon works at Lancing (Sussex). The bogies used were a heavy-duty variant of the standard SR carriage bogie. This van was one of a Lot of 25 vehicles numbered 56282-56306, which supplemented 21 other (completely different) bogie vans built between 1933 and 1935 on the underframes of ex-LBSCR AC power cars (none of these survived to be preserved). As these bogie vans were much larger than the norm, they quickly gained the "Queen Mary" nickname.

Following the steady demise of goods traffic, most of the 1936-built vans found their way into departmental service. 56290 was allocated to the CM&EE Electrification Engineer and gained an "LDS" prefix to its number. It also gained signal yellow ends with olive green or brown chevron warning bands!

The van's BR service was ended at Ipswich Wagon Repair Depot (ER) where it was deemed beyond economic repair and unfit to travel further by rail. It was offered for condemnation, to be broken up on site. After standing for some considerable time, LDS 56290 was finally withdrawn on 11 October 1993. It was inspected at Ipswich. An offer was made for its purchase and the van arrived on Bluebell on 22 July 1994. The cost of purchase and transport was funded by donations from BRPS members.


Some rotten woodwork was stripped from the vehicle at Horsted Keynes prior to its movement to Kingscote, Richard Salmon

56290 was moved to Kingscote, where initial restoration was undertaken and funded by the Friends of Kingscote team. The vehicle was later moved to HK where it was lifted and the bogies were removed; these being stripped, shotblasted and painted. Restoration was started again in earnest in 2005 with roof boards and a waterproof covering being fitted. Minor cracks in both bogie frames (probably the cause of the "break up on site" recommendation at Ipswich) were repaired by welding.

See details of the 2006-7 restoration of 56290 and of the 2021 rapid repair
Also available: photos of the brake cylinders and linkages provided for model-makers

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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Last updated by Nick Beck, 14 January 2014 and Richard Salmon, 4 February 2022.
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