A FEW NOTES ABOUT THE BOOKS
Each book listed above is an essential purchase for any modeller, historian or enthusiast with an interest in the thousands of privately owned wagons in use on the railways from 1853 to 1948. I hope these notes will give users of this index a better idea of what each of them covers.
All the books by Ian Pope and Keith Turton (which are published by the Lightmoor Press) contain far more than just photos of wagons with some basic details. Both authors try to put the wagons and owning companies into the context of the times in which they were built and used, and these books will be of value not only to enthusiasts and modellers, but also to social historians and in many cases family historians too. They are now the definitive source of information about private owner wagons and coal merchants before 1948.
All Keith Turton’s books also give details of any available models of the wagons described, a useful but potentially expensive feature for those of us of a weak constitution.
Bill Hudson’s Volumes 1 – 4 primarily have a detailed introduction and are then large photograph albums laid out in regional order, with (usually) one wagon to a page. There are very informative captions with history, dimensions, dates and specifications which will be of use to modellers and historians alike.
His 88 page 1996 Oakwood Press book is an excellent overview of the history and constructional details of private owner wagons with some splendid photos, drawings and statistics and could be considered the prototype of the current Lightmoor series. There are a number of wagons not featured elsewhere, although the page numbering is ‘economical’ to say the least. It is also the book which I had the most difficulty obtaining, but worth the trouble when I finally located one.
John Hypher & C & S Wheeler’s book is a broad history of the BRC&WC which has a number of photos of wagons but with fairly brief captions and no dimensions or livery details. Most of the photos are the same as those in the other books listed along with the ‘JH’ references, but there are one or two wagons not featured elsewhere.
Peter Matthews’ book is similar to Bill Hudson’s Oakwood volume but in just 48 pages and being 23 years older, has less information in it. It is still well worth buying however, for example on pages 20 – 23 are drawings showing the differences between pre-1923 and post 1923 RCH wagon specifications.
Keith Montague’s book has a very good history of the GRC&W Company and two excellent indexes by both wagon name and location. There are a few drawings, and more than 665 photos, nearly all of which have basic dimensions and livery details. It’s worth noting that a lot of the photos used in this book also appear in the others as they are the official GRC&WC views of their products.
A. G. Thomas’s three books, each of around 40 pages, have no page numbers and are simply accurate first hand sketches of wagon sides with basic livery and location notes, typically five to a page. There are no dimensions given and the company names run in alphabetical order, but there are some rarities here that are not featured anywhere else. I have not tried to make up page numbers for them in this index as you shouldn’t need them.
A.J. Watts’ splendid 190 page volume, published by the Historical Model Railway Society (HMRS) in 1998, is similar to the Lightmoor standard and layout. Pages 182 – 183 contain a detailed listing of the amalgamations of hundreds of collieries into dozens of larger companies during the late 1920s up to 1937. These are not indexed here but will be of interest to students of the coal industry.
Chris Sambrook’s marvellous book, again from the Lightmoor Press, is the definitive work on its subject. For this index, the wagons listed are mainly shown in photos from the makers’
advertising material so there are few dimensions or details, but that is not the reason for the book and they are included here for completeness.
private owner and railway company wagons. Subsequent research will perhaps have superseded some of the information, but this is the father of all the books indexed here and is certainly still worth hunting for.
Oil on the Rails (HMRS, 1999) covers the history of the oil companies, their depots and the wagons they used both pre-and post Nationalisation. There are a good number of tanker photos (plus many of early road-going tanker lorries) and tables of details, and a number of drawings of tanker wagons old and recent, all of which make for an interesting and useful book.
Mike Lloyd’s excellent book for the Welsh Railways Research Circle has a mixture of photos, information and drawings for most of, if not all, the owners in its area. It covers owners domiciled on the system as well as those from further afield whose wagons were used on it. It was a most illusive book and consequently very expensive when one finally turned up.
Coal Trade Wagons has no photographs but dozens of very detailed drawings of wagons with history and statistics for the owners. There is a fascinating and very detailed history of private wagon development, use and movement too. It was almost impossible to find and then very expensive, but worth it.
Richard Tourret’s 64 page softback British Railway Private Owner Tank Wagons is the only book here to feature colour photographs and has a nicely varied selection of wagons, small and large from around 1881 to 2000.
Finally, his monumental 304 page Petroleum Rail Tank Wagons of Britain is the definite book on the subject, but it also covers those used for many other liquids from 1870 to 2009. With 688 photos and 125 drawings and sketches, it is to the same standard as the Lightmoor books and of similar layout. There is a potted (but detailed) history for each company and its wagons. At £33.00, it’s expensive but well worth every penny. I have included details of all the owners shown in the book in this index, right up to 2009. The book has no index of its own, but it runs in alphabetical order so this is a minor point.
My intention is to allow the index user to find published details of any private owner wagon knowing just the company or owner’s name. I hope it will also help family historians to find details of relatives who were coal merchants. Perhaps it might be of use to model manufacturers too. I know there are several wagons here I’d love to see in 4mm scale ready to run form.
Users of the electronic version can press ‘Ctrl’ & ‘F’ at the same time, type in the name they are looking for and click ‘Next’ to find every example of it within the index.
Many of the older books listed are long out of print, but the compiler has managed to buy copies of all of them via the internet and from specialist booksellers and auction sites during 2009 – 10. It is suggested that anyone interested try the same method to obtain them, or ask at their local library of course.
Please be careful before buying any of the books on the strength of a reference marked with an asterix [*]. Some of them are still detailed paragraphs, but others are literally the owner’s name and nothing else. If there is no asterix, you will almost certainly find a photo or drawing of the wagon on that page, but I can’t accept responsibility for disappointment caused by errors or ommissions.
If the page number in any reference doesn’t make sense, please add a ‘0’ to it (eg 9 becomes 90). My keyboard had a duff ‘0’ on it and although I think I’ve found every missing one, there are bound to be a few that escaped.
The compiler welcomes corrections & amendments. Please e-mail them to
Produced by Joe Greaves 2010