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BR Wagon Numbers - Pre-Nationalisation Series
I don't intend to detail the numbering series for pre-nationalisation wagons, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, most were withdrawn before the advent of TOPS (and are therefore beyond the main scope of this website). Secondly, there have been a variety of books published that deal with the wagon fleets of the big four companies. What I will do is give some information about pre-nationalisation types that had particularly long lives.

Revenue wagons Departmental Wagons
Probably the last large scale utilisation of pre-nationalisation wagons in revenue-earning service would have been HTO and HTV coal hopper wagons. Most common in the North East, these lasted until 1991. Some LNER-built examples lasted until at least the mid-1980s but it is worth mentioning that these would have been ones that were rebodied.

Another batch of revenue wagons were the W-prefixed bogie steel wagons of types JGV/BGV and JEV/BJV. These originated as flat wagons with the War Department and were among a variety of types bought by BR in 1961 and given numbers in the GWR series. Later modified to carry strip coil, they were last used in 1988.

These apart, there were some isolated examples of pre-nationalisation wagons remaining in (or returning to) revenue service. The recoding of some departmental wagons into the traffic series during the 1980s saw a handful of bogie brake vans and flat wagons transferred. However, the youngest of these would have been 40 years old by then, and they did not last long.
For many years departmental wagons such as crane runners and staff and tool vans were cascaded from the revenue fleet, and they were often among the oldest vehicles extant. This ensured the survival into preservation of a range of pre-nationalisation wagons. Some of the more general types also remained in departmental service until the 1990s and beyond. These included LNER-built, steel-bodied opens and lowmacs, GWR bogie bolsters, and brake vans from all companies except the LNER.

A TOPS report for early 2008 included just 19 pre-nationalisation wagons, all with departmental codes and originating with the GWR (2), LMS (9) and LNER (8) . However, only one of these wagons was active, the remainder having been stored for up to 18 years!

Page added: 07/06/2008 Spotted an error? Got some additional info?
Please e-mail me at tom (at)
Last edited: 28/09/2008