Van 6

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group
Van 6
Type 4-wheel Brake
Home Railway FR
Status In service, Heritage Fleet
Built by FR Co.
Built 1885/86
1908 Rebuilt as brakevan
Length 12 ft 6 in

Van 6 is a Ffestiniog Railway four wheel single balcony goods brakevan, converted from quarrymen's carriage for use on Brookes' Quarry traffic from 1908. It was later fitted with dual brakes for use on the Welsh Highland Railway.


Over the years this van has carried several different numbers:

  • When first put to brake van use in 1908, it is believed to have been numbered 5.
  • From 1940, it was numbered 8.
  • In preservation days it was initially numbered Van 2.
  • With the reintroduction of a separate number series for vans in 1996, it became Van 6, although this was not carried until 1999. The choice of the number 6 allowed the bogie brakevans Van 10 and Van 12 to return to their original numbers (Van 2 and Van 5 respectively).

Originally built about 1885/6 as a Mk.3 quarrymen's carriage, this vehicle was converted to a brake van at Boston Lodge Works about 1908 and fitted with a single balcony. It was said to have been converted specifically to work with trains to and from Brookes' Quarry and to have carried number 5.

Already possessing the Festiniog Vacuum brake and a good handbrake, in June 1923 it was additionally fitted with the Westinghouse brake to enable it to work with ex-NWNGR stock on the new WHR; this may have been an emergency measure after ex-NWNGR Pickering brake 4, which had also been dual-braked, kept derailing and had to be taken out of service. Photos show the van working in 1923 with the two other ex-NWNGR carriages, 8 and 10, which had also been dual-braked; like some of the larger FR vans, it was turned to work over the WHR.

Later, from 1940-54, it carried number 8. It spent the years of closure in the Carpenter's Shop at Boston Lodge with its panelling partly stripped.

Initially under the new administration it was not serviceable and Old No 1 van was the brake van for the PW train. Soon after the introduction of the 'Flying Flea' train of four wheeled coaches in 1958, it was repaired with plywood body panels, overhauled, and repainted green and numbered 2 to join this train[1]. During restoration the Westinghouse equipment was removed and the vacuum renovated. Seats are provided in the van for up to 6 passengers.

At the end of 1967 it was under restoration including fitting a new wooden underframe and matchboard clad sides. When returned to traffic it had been repainted in new cherry red livery.

By 1993 it had been repainted in a slightly toned down version of the brick red which it had had for the last few years and was fitted with new replica plates cast by Ian Yates. In 1996 it was officially renumbered 6, repanelled and repainted in a colour similar to Southern Railway's livery for (Civil) Engineer's Department rolling stock. Whilst panelling was being done it was possible to see the original side door frames from when it was a quarrymen's coach. It is not thought to have actually carried the number 6 until 1999 when more work was done for the Vintage Weekend. The inside was panelled as it would have been when first converted and painted inside and out. The F.R. logo was signwritten on the side as original.

In May 2008 it ran into the coal chute in Minffordd yard. This knocked the side out of square and the chassis seemed to have suffered a bit. This was repaired at Boston Lodge by Team X and returned to service in FR green livery in July 2009. A repaint in 2018 saw Van 6 return to the previous red-oxide colour.[2]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 82, page(s): 25
  2. ^ "Carriage works", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 242 (2018), page(s): 94