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LNWR 6-Wheel Covered Combination Truck No. DM395273 “The Pooley Van”

Owned by 2857 Society from approx. 1976 to 1982

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The Pooley Van, pre-purchase and pre-restoration, photographed by Adrian Bodlander at Morpeth Dock Goods Yard in Birkenhead in November 1972. Thank you Adrian.

This 6-wheeled vehicle was built at Wolverton to diagram D444A in 1921. The vehicles were equipped with end doors as well as two sets of double doors in each side. They had a high pitched roof, thus allowing the conveyance of fairly tall road vehicles amongst other items, though at some later date the end sections of the roof on our vehicle and some if not all the others were cut down to a flat section. As built the vans were fitted with three double sets of louvres along each side. Vehicles of this type could still be seen in departmental use down to the late 1970s. Our example was first allocated number 12220, then later 4207 and 36912, becoming No. M36912M BR days. Later on it was down-graded to departmental use and numbered DM395273, and it may have been at this time that the louvres were replaced by blank panels and fixed glazed windows. It was latterly used as a mobile workshop by the company Henry Pooley & Son for use by maintenance staff attending to the company weighbridges around the BR network.

DM395273 was purchased from BR in 1973 by the erstwhile Historic Rolling Stock Group (HRSG), an SVR-based group drawing most of its members from Merseyside, and arrived on the SVR on 14th December 1973. Owing to its last use it was always known on the SVR as “The Pooley Van”. Around June 1976 the HRSG generously placed it on loan to the ‘2857 Society’ for use as a workshop, mess-room and, believe it or not, sleeping accommodation. The HRSG had re-canvassed the roof and it was loaned on the basis that the ‘2857 Society’ would have to finish off its restoration, claimed in 2857’s June 1976 Newsletter, without the slightest basis in fact, as being “quite an easy job!” Priority was given to an interior overhaul so that 2857 working members had somewhere of their own to keep dry. It was at around the same time that this CCT was purchased from HRSG by several senior ‘2857 Society’ members and donated to the Society. This generous act was not publicly recorded at the time, probably because the people making the donation were the same ones modestly writing the newsletter, and so we have pleasure in hereby repairing that omission and thanking the donors most sincerely for giving the ‘2857 Society’ a base which became something of an institution at Bewdley in its time! By June 1977 re-glazing, filling and painting to a basic level had been completed.

In October 1981 the ‘2857 Society’ decided to up-grade their workshop, storage and messing facilities and purchased GWR Collet Bow-Ended Coach 5043, which rendered both the ‘Pooley Van’ and the LMS 12-ton box van redundant. These two were sold to the ‘48518 Preservation Society’ based at Buxton on the Peak Rail scheme, arriving there on 19th February 1982, together with an SVR spare Stanier tender which had been stored at Highley. The ‘48518 Preservation Society’ went on to transfer their attention to 8F 2-8-0 No. 48624, while 48518 has since been cannibalised for spares for other locomotives.

In 1991 the CCT was sold again, to the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust (S&DRT). The body was removed, grounded at Washford and repainted S&D dark blue to become the S&DRT Visitor Centre. It remained in this use until May 2019 when it was decided that it had deteriorated beyond any worthwhile restoration and was sadly scrapped. When the body was removed it was intended that the underframe could be used under S&D 3rd class coach No 4 of 1886, but amazingly at that stage it was found to be the wrong length. The chassis was therefore sold in 1997 and moved to Quainton Road to be fitted under another coach body, LNWR No. 1020, a six-wheel tricomposite lavatory built in 1884. It was still too short for that, by about 3ft, but the job nevertheless seems to have gone ahead. At some point the ensemble moved to Ovington in Essex, but then in 2010 that site was being cleared so it moved on again and is now at Bressingham, under cover, but still (2019) incomplete.

We acknowledge the VCT Website for some information used in the preparation of these notes.


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