British Railways – as many readers will know – was obliged to carry anything which someone brought in for transportation. Well, maybe not “everything” but pretty well anything you can think of, the goods department had to come up with a solution for. Similarly, the preceding railways – the Big 4 and prior to that, the pre-grouping Companies – had to carry everything too. This service was especially vital before the development of road transportation with lorries and such.
One of the more interesting (at least for me) traffics was the movement of beer from the big brewing houses to various locations around the country. The interest was first fostered by seeing a picture on the back of one of Essery’s volumes on LMS Wagons showing a picture of an LMS Beer Van. Further research showed that the LNWR had built specific vans for Beer traffic from as early as 1866 and had, according to the notes in LNWR Wagons Volume 2, 270 examples by the start of World War 1.
Now being interested in such a vehicle is one thing but having reason to operate one is another. However, when in doubt, apply Rule 1 and go for it. So when we were planning the First Australasian Gathering of 2mm Scale Association Members in 2014 and the idea of a souvenir wagon was put forward the LMS D1817 was suggested. Consultation with people in the UK suggested that Vans weren’t especially interesting and it was suggested that we do something else – so we did the tar wagon which was written up in the February-March 2016 Magazine (don’t blame the Editors for the delay...). The second Gathering in 2015 approached fast and with no other inspiration we returned to the Beer Van and it was produced.
With my developing CAD skills and armed with LNWR Wagons Volume 2, I drew up the LNWR D15 version so I could have both.
This print was adequate although there were some significant issues around how I fitted the roof, and the thickness of the bottom two planks. I was ready to do some work on the redesign when it was announced in the December-January Magazine that the opportunity to get some etched D15s was available. So I held off and purchased two (as mentioned in an Update a couple of weeks ago). I have since had another look at the drawings and photos in LNWR Wagons Vol 2 and decided that the roof on both my original (based on the Gladiator Models 7mm one) and possibly David E's etch are wrong. The prototype vans, it turns on out on actually reading the accompanying notes to the drawings and photos in the book, had a wooden roof covered in canvas. This is born out by the pictures, especially one of p127 of the aforementioned book for those who have a copy. So I think I need to remove the ribs from my drawing, and possibly from the etches too.
I have also learnt that British Railways converted some Meat Vans into Beer Vans.
Finally – Rule 1 doesn’t actually have to apply it turns out. Beer was supplied by rail to St Alban’s Abbey for delivery to the local Pubs – and I would imagine, as does my source, that it came in... Beer Vans! So having a few in various liveries to match time periods is kosher after all.