DW Class Workmen's vans (class P just after 1900)

This class was a motley collection of vehicles used as Workmen's vans.  There were many different types involved.

The first group were converted from the old Metropolitan RCWCo D vans.  Numbers 265-268 spent some time as workmen's vans in the 1890's with 267, 268 being returned to normal stock in 1898. Number 269 became a workmen's van in 1898 as did 263 in the early 1900's. In 1905 269 was listed as a Scale Adjusters van in need of a rebuild.

DW265 seems to have disappeared before 1909.  E94 (which was originally of this class) became DW94 in 1933.  DW263 and 269 were written off in 1935 and DW94 went in 1936.


There were two AI class carriages converted to Workmen's vans. 

AI 3 and 259 were converted to P class workmen's vans, P4914 in 1900 and P5182 in 1901/2.  In 1903/4 they were reclassified DW.

The photo at right shows the end of one of these conversions which appear to have 3 windows cut into at least the near end with the steps removed.

DW5182 lasted until 1936 and DW4914 was written off in 1960.

The image below shows DW5182.

Two purpose built DWs were built new in 1902 on a 17' steel underframe in the style of the contemporary new build D class vans. Internally they were split into two compartments.. In one compartment there were 2 bunks, 2 Box seats, a stove and a table with a cupboard underneath. In the other compartment was a Portable Forge a cupboard and a Bench.

They were numbered 1412 and 5944. Both were converted to or replaced by DA class vans in 1929 and 1941 respectively.

One of the ordinary 17' D vans became DW87 in 1954.   This van was written off in 1977.

Two of the old ex GSR 6 Wheeled P class brake vans became workmen's vans.

The first was 5091 converted a workmen's van in 1901/2 and reclassified DW in 1903/4. The second was 5093 converted in 1936.

DW5093 was the first to go in 1959 but DW5091 lasted until 1970 and was preserved when it was finally written off. 

In 1903/4 ex G.S.R.  D van 4183 was converted to DW but reverted to a D van in 1925.  D4193 of the same type became a DW in 1931 but only lasted until 1936. 

There were six more DW conversions of D vans with numbers in the GSR series.  4168, 4172, 4189, 4191 and 4198 became DWs in 1953 followed by 4175 in 1959.  DW4191 was written off in 1957  followed by 4189 in 1969, 4172 and 4175 in 1972 and 4168 and 4198 in 1976.  It seems likely that this group were all actually standard 15' or 16' D vans built to replace the original ex GSR vans as undocumented rebuilds but they could have been GSR originals. 

In 1920 breakdown van 1901 was converted to a DW. This van was written off in 1934.

Six-wheeled carriage AH 29 was converted to workmen's van DW652 in 1925 and written off in 1950.

Two O class gunpowder vans (82 and 2015) were reclassified as DW in 1931. DW2015 reverted to class O in 1937 but DW82 remained as a workmen's van until written off in 1931.

Another oddity was railmotor AO431 which became a workmen's van in 1951. This lasted until 1965 when it was written off.

There were a number of the  N.Z.R. type D vans converted to DW over the years.  The first was D575 converted to DW in 1914 and back to D in 1937.

From 1953 there were more conversions as these old D vans were relegated to lesser tasks.   The table below shows the rise and demise of these NZR type vans. 

The great survivor was DW1350.  It was written off in 1976 but remained in use long after this.  In 1985 I photographed it in a train of workmen's vans at Narrogin.  It was written back shortly after this and survived until the purge of old stock in the 1990s.

1953563, 573, 575, 1187, 1195, 1201, 1332, 1339, 1342, 1345, 1350, 1352 from D
1954572 from D
19571197 from D
19591332 written off
19601193 written off
19611190 from D
19631195, 1197 written off
19681342 converted to N
1969563 written off
1972572, 575 written off
19751193, 1339 written off

573, 1187, 1190, 1345, 1350, 1352 written off 

Of these DW1345 went to Woodman's point.  DW1350 remained in traffic despite having been written off and the photo above was taken in 1985.

19791201 written off

There were also conversions to DW in 1953 from the  D class vans converted from NZR type horseboxes during the Second world war.

D5120 and 5132 became DWs in 1953 and 5116 was converted in 1954.

DW5132 was written off in 1964 and the other two in 1976.


There were a number of the 15' D vans built in 1905 -1907 reclassified as DW vans between 1953 and 1957.

DW39 shown at right reveals no external changes from its original condition and the others were probably just renumbered rather than altered as well.

DW39 at East Perth.   Photo: The late Bob Taylor ARHS collection

195339, 44, 46, 49, 66, 68, 85, 143 from D
195435 from D
195714 from D
1960143 written off
196244 written off
196385 written off
196868 written off
197235, 66 written off
197339, 46 written off
197514 written off
197749 written off

An unknown DW at Meckering. Probably rebuilt from an original 16' D van.

There was a similar reclassification of the 16' D vans from 1952.  The problem with this group lies in the fact that it may include some early vans replaced by new build vans in the first part of the twentieth century.  The vans which are suspect are:

D250 which became a DW in 1950 and was written off in 1959.  This was nominally an old MRCWCo van but almost certainly was either a  15' or 16' D van


D4994 which became a DW in 1953 and was written off in 1976.  Nominally this was a rebuilt P class brake van from 1913 but was almost certainly a standard 16' van.  

1950250 from D
19525167, 6810 from D
1953148, 153, 423, 1132, 1506, 2337, 4994, 5002, 5148, 5153, 5156, 5171 from D
19575161 from D
1959250 written off
19611506 written off
19635171 written off
19645167 written off
19685156 written off
1973148, 423 written off
1975153, 1132, 2337, 5161, 6810 written off
19764994, 5002, 5148, 5153 written off

There were 3 former DA class vans that saw out their declining years as DWs.

10946 was the first to become a DW in 1953.  In 1973 two more (10931 and 10933) became class DW. 10931 was written off that same year.  DW10946 followed in 1976 and 10933 was the last to go in 1977.  There were other DAs that served as Workmen's vans without being reclassified as DWs notably DA13311 which was still in use in the mid 1980s.

In 1961 there was a mass conversion of G and H class wagons to DWs.  It is not clear to me whether this involved building bodies on the former open wagons or was just a reclassification.   The frame of 2771 was still extant at Midland workshops in 1986.  It had 3 plank ends and no sign of a van body. Why it wasn't an HW is a mystery.


485, 2469, 3144, 3798, 3801 from G (N.Z.R. Type)

915, 1285, 2373, 2771, 3060, 3123, 3962 from  H(N.Z.R. Type)

6636 from GB

19633132 written off
1972485, 2469, 3798, 6636 written off
19732373, 2771, 3060, 3962 written off
1975915, 1285 written off
19773144, 3801 written off

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