Two lots were ordered to the former LMSR design as no standard design had been decided in the first few years of British Railways' existence. They were an ongoing LMSR order, as they also had Derby LMSR Order Numbers. Both Lots were constructed at Derby.
Lot 2025 (Derby 1557) were numbered 950000-950124, and turned out between October 1950 and January 1951 (The date 31st October 1952 previously quoted relates to a change to diagram from 503 to 505 making the official completion date of 950061 31/10/1952) at a cost of £735 per vehicle. They were allocated Diagram No 1/505, which later became CA004A or B.
Lot 2026 (Derby 1558) were numbered 950125-950249, and constructed between June and October 1950 at a cost of £722 per vehicle. They were allocated Diagram No 1/503, which later became CA002A or B.
As the above shows, Lot 2026 preceded Lot 2025. The cost difference was due to 950125-950249 being built as unfitted brakevans with loose link Instanter couplings, whereas 950000-950124 were fitted with vacuum pipe and gauge, together with screw couplings. Subsequently, during the 1950s many of Lot 2026 were fitted with vacuum pipe and gauge, together with screw couplings.
In the 1970s / 80s 950061 was noted as vacuum fitted.
The body sides of both lots were constructed of 11 1/2 inch longitudinal planks, interrupted in the centre by the sheet steel covered guard's lookout. The vehicle ends were of sheet steel with two lamp brackets fitted, together with two more on the outer verandah framework. The most obvious difference at the ends of the two Lots were the type of vacuum pipe fitted. Lot 2025 had an inclined pipe reaching over half way up the verandah screen, whereas the pipes fitted later on to Lot 2026 did not rise above the buffer beam. To increase the weight of the brakevan to 20 tons, and therefore give it greater braking force, a large metal box was fitted between the axles in the underframe and filled with scrap metal. A full-length wooden running board was provided with an extra step above this at the four verandah access points.
The brakevans in Lot 2025 were all painted with a bauxite body, black frames and white handrails, vacuum pipe and lettering. The unfitted Lot received grey paint work, but those that were vacuum piped in the 1950s were repainted with bauxite body work. The brakevans that subsequently had the vacuum gear removed remained in bauxite livery.
These vehicles have been widely used on all Regions of BR except on the Southern Region, and very few were reserved for specific duties.
The first withdrawals took place in 1964. The rate of withdrawal was generally slow, with only 72 being condemned by 1980, leaving 178 in revenue use. A dramatic change occurred in 1981 with 62 withdrawals and a further 44 in 1982. The final 72 went slowly from 1983-85, until another purge of 34 in 1986 and 13 in 1987 left 950173 to go in 1988 and 950055 as the sole survivor in 1989. Even so they clearly outlasted their GWR and LNER counterparts.
Ten of the vehicles have been bought up by preservation groups and should therefore survive for quite a few more years yet:
|950001||Preserved by Geof Mann (Scotland)|
|950003||1988 to Peak Rail at Matlock|
|950021||1987 to Steamtown at Carnforth|
|950048||1993 to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre|
|950061||1981 to the Northampton Steam Railway|
|950077||1990 to the Vale of Neath Railway|
|950114||1981 to the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway|
|950136||1988 to the East Lancashire Railway at Bury|
|950173||1990 to Peak Rail at Matlock|
|950194||1987 to the Swanage Railway|
Restored BR B 950048
Rare photo of brakevan in service (Circa 1952; Caledonian Railway 20 ton Brake Van No 437)
BR Brakevans & Ballast ploughs : Eric Gent