NWNGR ridge-roofed covered wagons

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Ridge-roofed covered wagons of the NWNGR.

Early photographs[1] [2] show at least two wagons of an unusual type. They were about the size of the Large Open Wagons, having sides six planks high (size of planks not known) but have ridged roofs, the ends being one-and-a half planks higher at the centre. The roof panels were hinged along their centre line and could be raised to improve access to the wagons. The wagons were fitted with side-hinged double doors in the centre of each side [3] and a brake lever was fitted to one side. Most unusually for NWNG wagons, they were fitted with chopper couplers like those on the locos and coaches, implying that they were intended for regular use in passenger trains. The NWNGR reported 3 "Covered Goods" wagons in their accounts returns from 1881 to 1905. This number reduced to 2 in 1906. As both the Ashbury and Gloucester brake composite carriages only had very small guard's compartments it would seem that these wagons were primarily used for passengers' luggage, parcels and small goods traffic. The later Pickering brake compos, delivered to the railway in 1907, did have larger luggage compartments, which may have meant that these wagons were no longer needed for this purpose after that date. Only one was reported in 1909 and none from 1912.

A discussion on the Welsh Highland forum[4] commented on a photo[5] of South Snowdon station in 1893/4. This shows a train consisting of a Vulcan Fairlie, a ridge-roof wagon, three large opens and an Ashbury brake compo. Although a long shot, it can be seen that the ridge and the large opens are almost exactly the same size in length and height of side. The brake lever of the ridge-roof is visible but not those on the coal wagons.

In WHR days almost all other NWNG wagons (where the ends are visible in photos) including vans and large opens had a simple curved metal strip as a buffer, with hook and link below, as on FR iron slate wagons. The exceptions were the above, and the NWNG all-metal slate wagons, which had a square metal buffer, probably sprung. However, in 1890, according to Boyd [6] the NWNGR reported to the House of Commons that of its 120 wagons 105 were coupled by hook and link and 15 by hooks with eccentric and ball-weight (ie chopper type). These 15 may be the ridge-roofs and the twelve large opens, to facilitate the sort of train mentioned above, though that seems to imply that they were later converted to hook-and-link.

One may be seen in use in a passenger train in iBase 2985. It is marshalled between the engine and the carriages which is in breach of the BoT Order of 30 December 1890 which required goods wagons to be behind passenger vehicles in mixed trains, though the evidence in BoT files (for example the train involved in an accident on 14 February 1896) suggests the NWNG was not always rigorous in such matters. It is lettered 'NWNGR No 1' and its size may be estimated from Moel Tryfan's bunker and the Cleminson coach. This photograph clearly shows the access doors on the east side of the wagon - the same side as the brake lever.

The ridge roofs do not appear in photos of WHR days. It has been suggested that they were converted into the two vans with corrugated roofs seen in WHR photos, but some of their structural detail would appear to discount this. However, parts from one of these ridge-roof vans (notably the doors and fittings, also the corner plates, mounted upside down) do appear to have been used in the conversion of WHR Van 2.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Prideaux, J.D.C.A., The Welsh Narrow Gauge Railway, David & Charles, 1976, ISBN 0 7153 7184 3 p31. (this photo also appears in Boyd but has been cropped, the whole wagon can be seen in Prideaux)
  2. ^ Johnson, Peter (2002). An Illustrated History of the Welsh Highland Railway. Hersham: Oxford Publishing Co. ISBN 0-860935-65-5. OCLC 59498388. p6
  3. ^ Welsh Highland Heritage, Issue 71, June 2016 pp. 8 & 9
  4. ^ http://welshhighland.freeforums.org/a-postcard-reveals-almost-all-t1416.html
  5. ^ Welsh Highland Heritage, Issue 8, June 2000 p6
  6. ^ Boyd, James I.C. (1972). Narrow Gauge Railways in South Caernarvonshire. Lingfield, Surrey, England: The Oakwood Press. ISBN 9780853611158. OCLC 707587. p224