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 above shows DW5182.

The WAGR outline diagram for the original AI class coach is shown below, followed by the internal arrangement of DW 4914.

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 to 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.

The WAGR outline diagram is shown below.

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. The WAGR outline diagram is shown below.

DW652 ex AH29

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 workmen's van DW5092 in 1951. This lasted until 1965 when it was written off. The WAGR outline diagram is shown below.

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.

1953 563, 573, 575, 1187, 1195, 1201, 1332, 1339, 1342, 1345, 1350, 1352 from D
1954 572 from D
1957 1197 from D
1959 1332 written off
1960 1193 written off
1961 1190 from D
1963 1195, 1197 written off
1968 1342 converted to N
1969 563 written off
1972 572, 575 written off
1975 1193, 1339 written off
1976 573, 1187, 1190, 1345, 1350, 1352 written off

Of these DW1345 went to Woodman's point but DW1350 remained in traffic despite having been written off.

1979 1201 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.

1953 39, 44, 46, 49, 66, 68, 85, 143 from D
1954 35 from D
1957 14 from D
1960 143 written off
1962 44 written off
1963 85 written off
1968 68 written off
1972 35, 66 written off
1973 39, 46 written off
1975 14 written off
1977 49 written off

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(RHWA collection)

An unknown DW at Meckering. Probably converted from an original 16' D van - the door has been altered. (RHWA collection)

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.

1950 250 from D
1952 5167, 6810 from D
1953 148, 153, 423, 1132, 1506, 2337, 4994, 5002, 5148, 5153, 5156, 5171 from D
1957 5161 from D
1959 250 written off
1961 1506 written off
1963 5171 written off
1964 5167 written off
1968 5156 written off
1973 148, 423 written off
1975 153, 1132, 2337, 5161, 6810 written off
1976 4994, 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.

1961 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

1963 3132 written off
1972 485, 2469, 3798, 6636 written off
1973 2373, 2771, 3060, 3962 written off
1975 915, 1285 written off
1977 3144, 3801 written off

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