Covered Goods Vans
Covered Vans became necessary to the early Victorian railway
companies to provide more protection than an open wagon covered by a tarpaulin could
offer to those delicate, fragile and expensive goods which they were called upon to
carry sometimes. Claims for goods damaged in transit could soon outweigh the profit
margin involved so the covered van became the solution to prevent damage by water or
fire to merchandise such as foodstuffs, clothes, wines and spirits, furniture etc.
The exact date of their introduction is unknown but by 1861 the LNW had a stock of 2000.
We have no documentary evidence of what a covered van looked like in the 1860s. However,
the evidence of the similarity of open wagons in the 1860s to those being built in the
1880s, encourage me to suggest that it is reasonable to assert that the earlier ones
were similar to the 1885 photograph of an L&NWR covered van. As this photograph shows
these vans were of a markedly characteristic design with heavy outside framing and a
roof door. This type, later to be known as D32, had a sliding door on one side only,
and also a sliding roof door.
The Company numbering system for all its rolling stock was driven apparently by accountancy considerations. I have never seen the operation of any of these systems described in print, but all the surviving evidence indicates that, at least in the case of the goods wagon stock, the following procedure was followed. All new capital stock were assigned new, and as yet unused, numbers at the top of the stock list. Each revenue replacement vehicle assumed the number of the condemned vehicle it replaced. Consequently, it is possible to use the surviving building and total stock records to reconstitute the range of register numbers used for the first time in any one year. These 'rules' can be applied to all the goods rolling stock and I have demonstrated how they can be used to illuminate the numbering of the general merchandise stock in previous articles. The calculation of register numbers from building and stock data is an arithmetic one and so gives the impression of integer accuracy. I make no such claim but merely seek to identify the broader sweep of the numbering system.
At all times during their LNW life these vans were painted a dark grey colour (Humbrol matt enamel No 79 is acceptable) with all the ironwork below the sole bar painted black when new, but this would soon have become a rusty grey colour‘on the road’. The first vans had only the white diamond insignia to distinguish their ownership, but the 16in. high letters LNWR were added to all new vehicles commencing in 1908 and the photograph of D.88 van No. 76019 shows that the white diamond marking had been discontinued for new vehicles by the time that one was built in 1912. However, it should be remembered that such livery changes would take years to work right through the whole wagon fleet. Those vans fitted with full vacuum brakes had broad inward facing diagonal white stripes on each end of the body side, but vans fitted with vacuum pipes only were identifiable by a single stripe on the left-hand end of the body. The number was carried on a cast iron plate fitted centrally on the sole bar and originally it was also painted in 4in. characters on the top plank between the end stanchions, but by 1921 the painted number had been transferred to the bottom left hand corner.