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<< Profile 9 >> PHA/JHA/HLA Marcon Bogie Gravel Hoppers
Build Details: 1969-1991, Charles Roberts, W.H.Davis
Numbering: MAR17701-MAR17735, later 300701-300735
Bogies / Suspension: Gloucester Cast Steel or GPS
Dimensions: LOB 16459mm (17701-17712) or 16580mm (17713-17735).
Published Drawings:
Areas of operation: London and South East
Main liveries: Green, later grey, later yellow, later maroon.
Summary: For a small fleet seen in a limited area this group of wagons has had a fairly interesting time, although I am perhaps biased as they are the only type I see on a regular basis. Three batches were built, with two types of bogies and several other design differences. Over the years, four liveries have been carried, and all the wagons were eventually rebodied and modified to have a more uniform appearance. Throughout this time the wagons worked in bloack formations carrying sea-dredged gravel from terminals on the River Thames to various locations around London.

History: An intital batch of 12 wagons was built by Charles Roberts in 1969 for use by Murphy Aggregates to carry sea-dredged gravel from Angerstein Wharf near Charlton in South-East London. With the advent of TOPS, these were numbered MPHY17701-17712 and coded PHA. The type featured a hopper body of octagonal section and considerably shorter than the underframe. The body had an enclosed end with doors to access the brake equipment and was mounted on distinctive perforated (for weight reduction?) solebars that were set high to enable unloading conveyors to be positioned underneath. Short sub-frames rather like those found on many bogie oil tank wagons were fitted, and the wagon sat on Gloucester Cast Steel bogies. The original livery was green with large Murphy Aggregates lettering.

Some 14 years later a second batch of 10 wagons was constructed by W.H.Davis to the same basic design. These were however mounted on newer Gloucster GPS bogies and featured a revised end design whereby a plate ran from the top of the hopper to the bufferbeam to protect the brake equipment. Further wing plates joined this to the sides of the hopper to give a cowled appearance. A grey livery was applied with Marcon Aggregates lettering in yellow on the hopper sides, the solebars and bogies being black. Numbers were MAR17713-17722 to design code PH004B (the originals being PH004A).

In 1984 operation of the fleet moved from Angerstein Wharf to Cliffe in Kent, although it later moved back. The wagons themselves gradually acquired a work-stained orangey-brown tint to their liveries, with the side lettering all but invisible.

A third batch of 13 wagons was built between 1989 and 1991, again by W.H.Davis and again with minor differences. The end protector plates were slightly narrower, and the wing plates were ommited, exposing the hopper support framework and air tanks. The initial livery of this batch is not known but the entire fleet was soon repainted into a deep yellow scheme that was better able to disguise the weathering. At about the same time the original batch were rebodied (also by W.H.Davis) to the revised design. Under the TOPS re-coding exercise in 1990, all these wagons became JHAs.

The services were typically formed of a block of 12-15 wagons and were hauled (to various terminals in and around London) by double-headed class 33 diesels. Later on classes 37, 60 and 66 took over. In 1998 the whole fleet was sold to EWS who continued to use them on the same services. The fleet was recoded as HLAs and given the numbers 300701-300735 in the air-braked series, although actual repainting (into EWS maroon) and relettering of the wagons has been a very gradual process.



Links: Photos of Marcon PHA wagons on Paul Bartlett's website

Photos of JHA wagons on Martyn Read's website

Photos of HLA wagons on Martyn Read's website

Photos of JHA wagons on Andy Jupe's website

Photos of HLA wagons on Andy Jupe's website

Updates: 15/03/2013: Photo links (finally) updated.
For more pictures see the Links section at the bottom

HLA 300721 and an unidentified JHA at North Acton on 29th May 2007. Note the differences in hopper design, end plates and bogies.
Damon Cross

Page added: 01/10/2007 Spotted an error? Got some additional info?
Please e-mail me at tom (at)
Last edited: 03/10/2007