FR Brake Vans

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group

Over the years, the company has had a number of brake vans. In some documentation these have been referred to as 'break vans'.

The term 'brake van' is used to denote that the vehicle has accommodation for the guard, and provision for him to operate the vehicle's handbrake and the continuous braking system of the train, if fitted, while the train is in motion.

Early vans[edit]

The earliest known brake vans were a series of four-wheelers built at Boston Lodge for the start of passenger services in 1865. They were low-slung to match the Birmingham carriages, and had an open platform at the downhill end. In the early days passenger trains gravitated down the line under control of the guard, so the brake wheel was located on the platform, which was later fitted with a small shelter for the guard covering one side of the platform. Because of the shelter, they are often referred to as the 'Sentry-box' Vans.

These were replaced by a series of bogie brakes from 1873 and scrapped. However a replica, numbered 3, was constructed at Boston Lodge in 2013-4, making its début at the Vintage Weekend in October 2014. This replica has a discreet door (almost invisible when closed) from the Guard's platform into the body of the van. This was not present in the originals. The one-sided access to the platform due to the sentry-box creates significant operational difficulties for the Guard, particularly on Down trains.

There were probably no separate goods brake vans at this period.

Later vans[edit]

For passenger trains five bogie full-brakes were built between 1873 and 1880. These retained the open platform at the downhill end, but by this date passenger trains always descended coupled to the locomotive (safer that way), so there was a conventional guard's compartment inside where the the brake-wheel was situated, and no sentry-box was fitted. Three of these vans were later rebuilt with passenger accommodation, and remain available for service.

These Vans were:

  • Van 1 (1873) - Original scrapped 1921, but replica built 2004.
  • Van 2 (1873) - Rebuilt with passenger accommodation 1921. Now numbered Van 10.
  • Van 3 (1876) - Scrapped 1955.
  • Van 4 (1880) - Rebuilt with passenger accommodation 1929. Now numbered Van 11.
  • Van 5 (1880) - Rebuilt with passenger accommodation 1930. Now numbered Van 12.

Goods Brake Vans from the early 20th century were conversions from Type 3 Quarrymen's carriages, and two of these vans survived into the preservation era, see below.

Post-preservation Vans[edit]

Guard's accommodation on passenger trains is nowadays in coaching stock, though at times of need and for specials goods brakes have sometimes been used. The guard's compartment in the new stock built from the 1960s was in the Observation car (as in the original Carriage 100). Current policy favours the Service Car concept, one coach combining Guard's accommodation, catering and toilet provision (as in Carriage 124) as this allows the full length of the Observation car to be available for first-class passengers, as in the new Carriage 100. FR Passenger coaches with guard's accommodation are (were):

Several brake vans for works trains have been used by the post-1954 company. In order of acquisition by the FR:

See also[edit]