Class O (Class H before 1900)

The W.A.G.R. four-wheeled gunpowder vans include one or two mysteries that I haven't quite solved yet.

The lowest numbered van was number 51. The record cards give the entry into service date as 1897 but the low number is unlikely for an 1897 built vehicle. It is known that there was at least one powder van in service before 1881 on the eastern railway and this is probably it. There was also at least one very old powder van in northern railway stock as well. Number 51 was rebuilt in 1912 (how I'm not sure) and was not finally written off until 1953.

The second group of vans includes number 393 (built 1893), 1302/1303 and 2078 built 1895. 2078 falls into the ex Northern Railway stock sequence and it may be that this is in fact the oldest van. Number 1303 was noted as being rebuilt in 1912 but again how is a bit of a mystery. In 1943 number 393 was written off and abandoned on the Hopetoun section followed by 2078 in 1953. However, 2078 was re-instated the following year and did not finally go until 1968. 1303 went in 1959 and 1302 lasted until 1970. This group of vans is shown on the builders' general arrangement drawing as being 14'-0" long but the W.A.G.R. outline diagram shows a length of 15'-0". I am inclined to believe the builders drawing.

I am fairly sure that 393, 1302 and 1303 were of similar type but one of the other two (51 or 2078) was the odd one out.

The third group is more straightforward. This batch of five vans (2013-2017) was built on the N.Z.R. standard underframe in 1896. One van (2015) spent 1931 to 1937 classed as a workmen's van (DW) but the first withdrawal did not come until 1959 when 2017 was written off. 2016 followed in 1963, with 2015 being written off in 1966, 2014 in 1968 and finally 2013 in 1970.

In 1907, five more vans were built (76, 79-82). Of these, 82 became a workmen's van (DW) in 1931 and the others were written off. 76 went in 1953 followed by 81 in 1966, 79 in 1968 and finally 80 in 1969. It is likely that these vans were built on a GB type underframe but confirmation is lacking at present.

Other Powder vans

Other explosive vans used by the W.A.G.R. were to be found in classes DE, and EBE (four wheel) and VE and Y. It is not clear why the O and Y codes were not used more extensively.

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