GNR Hopper Wagons and Plough Vans

Alan O’Rourke

 

Until the end of the 19th century, the typical ballast wagon was a primitive short wheelbase vehicle, with low drop sides, leather flaps to try and keep the stone dust out of the grease-axle boxes and, possibly still, dumb-buffers. To go with these, there might be a “ballast brake van,” often derived from an even older four-wheel coach, and sometimes a sort of combined tool shed and mess hut on wheels. But, from the 1890’s, a number of companies, including in Ireland, the GSWR, MGWR and GNR(I), started to modernise their permanent way stock, introducing higher capacity steel hoppers, where instead of shovelling the ballast out of low-side wagons, it could be deposited directly onto the track through bottom doors, and also “plough vans” with steel shears underneath, which at least started the process of distributing the gravel. These drawings show the GNR designs of the period, and a very similar, but later, design for gypsum traffic. The plough vans and eighteen hoppers came from Hurst Neilson & Co. of Motherwell, and were of all-steel construction. The ballast wagons had self-discharging hoppers, which could be operated by screw mechanisms from either side.  The van had double plough-shears between the wheels, so it could operate running in either direction, a large veranda and a covered portion with stove and lockers. All this stock had vacuum and hand brakes, and oil axle-boxes. An unusual, and it seems only experimental change was the use of “GNR(I)” lettering, instead of the more usual “GNR” and later “GN,” although since this only appears on the Neilson maker’s photos, it may have been their whim, and rapidly replaced by the orthodox legend on arrival at Dundalk. Similarly, although the posed official shot shows the van running as number 120, the GNR drawing lists them as 8166 and 8167, both built in 1910, and costing £242 each. Similarly, the Neilson hoppers, all built in 1910 at £138 each, had running numbers  8097-8114. Another nine hoppers came from Pickering in 1912, at £149 each, running as 8139-8147.

GNR ballast hopper 149, a Pickering makers photo (Photo: Historical Model Railway Society Collection, no. W1007)

GNR ballast hopper 149, a Pickering maker's photo (Photo: Historical Model Railway Society Collection, no. W1007)

GNR(I) Ballast Plough & Brake Van

GNR(I) Ballast Plough & Brake Van.

At the dissolution of the GNR, UTA got fourteen of the hopper vehicles, and the remaining thirteen went to CIE, for which the following details are recorded:

GNR No: Tare (Tons-CWT-Quarters): Date brake gear altered to take standard CIE KD block:
8098
8100
8102
8104
8106
8108
8110
8112
8114
8140

7-14-0
7-10-3
7-12-2
7-17-1

7-13-1
8-2-3
7-14-3
1962
1962
1962
1961
1962
1962
1961
1962
1962
1960

 

GNR(I) 20 Ton Hopper Ballast Wagon

GNR(I) 20 Ton Hopper Ballast Wagon

 

GNR ballast plough van no. 120, a Neilson makers photo (Photo: The Locomotive Magazine & Railway Carraige & Wagon Review, January 14th 1911)

GNR ballast plough van no. 120, a Neilson maker's photo (Photo: The Locomotive Magazine & Railway Carraige & Wagon Review, January 14th 1911)

 

GNR ballast hopper no. 107, a Nielson makers photo, showing GNR(I) lettering (Photo: The Locomotive Magazine & Railway Carraige & Wagon Review, January 14th 1911)

GNR ballast hopper no. 107, a Nielson maker's photo, showing "GNR(I)" lettering (Photo: The Locomotive Magazine & Railway Carraige & Wagon Review, January 14th 1911)

The gypsum hopper drawing does not have any notes about outside builders so I assume they represent Dundalk’s adaptation of the earlier ballast hoppers. Six of these were turned out in the Second World War (or did the GNR call it the Emergency, or like the Church of Ireland prayer book for “our leaders” have different rubric for each side of the Border?).  I am assuming that these worked from Kingscourt on the MGWR, being handed over at Navan and forwarded on GNR trains to Drogheda cement factory. These vehicles were built with hand brakes only but cost had risen to £477 each (£205 wages, £235 material, £37 other charges), and the following details apply:

No: Date: Tare: Brakes Altered: Brake Screw Protection Plates Fitted:
6015
6016
6017
6018
6019
6020
Oct. 1944
Oct. 1944
Oct. 1944
Nov. 1944
Nov. 1944
Nov. 1944
8-1-1
8-1-3
8-2-0
8-2-0
8-1-3
8-1-3
Nov. 1945
Oct. 1945
Oct. 1945
Oct. 1945
Oct. 1945
Nov. 1945
Apr. 1946
Apr. 1946
May 1946


 

GNR(I) 20 Ton Hopper Wagon (Gypsum Traffic)

GNR(I) 20 Ton Hopper Wagon (Gypsum Traffic)

 

 

Reference: Anonymous (1911) New Rolling stock. Great Northern Ry. (Ireland) The Locomotive Magazine & Railway Carriage & Wagon Review 17: 22 (January 14, 1911).

I am grateful to the IRRS archives and Mr Brendan Pender for access to the GNR drawings and permission to reproduce them.

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1 Comment

Filed under Prototype, Scale Drawings

One response to “GNR Hopper Wagons and Plough Vans

  1. John Shanahan

    I want to say thanks for putting this together. My dad spent many a long hour in those brakevans, and i feel closer to him when I read about them.
    One thing that strikes me is that 100 years or from the design described, irish rail’s ballest technology has not moved-on all that much. Living as I do on the Dublin Cork line I have noticed new rolling stock in the last week!

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