The 75 year period of the L&Y saw the development of the Company’s wagons from simple 4‑wheel wooden open wagons (unbraked in some cases) through to sophisticated bogie well wagons capable of carrying over 50 tons. During its time the L&Y built or possessed around 67,500 vehicles, the vast majority of which were open wagons for carrying general merchandise (over 80%). The number of wagons in use rose gradually across time thus: 1850 – 3,737; 1879 – 18,536; 1895 – 24,423; 1920 – 37,585.

The percentages of wagons built to specific styles in 1895 were opens (1,2 & 3 plank) 65%, half box (4 plank with centre drop door) 14% and covered goods just 8%. Company mineral wagons were 6%, cattle wagons 2½% and brake vans (known on the L&Y as break vans) 2½%. By 1920 the percentages for the same types were respectively 35%, 36% and 19%; minerals 4½%, cattle 2% and breaks 2½%, as before.

However, vast quantities of coal were also being moved, generally in the wagons of colliery owners or private merchants, and this affected the appearance of trains. A typical train of 20 wagons in 1895 would comprise six or seven single plank opens (Diagram 1 and mostly sheeted over), four or five two or three plank wagons (again most sheeted over), two half box wagons, two covered goods, four private owner coal wagons and a break van (10T Diagram 21).

The vast majority of the wagon fleet was built in the LYR’s carriage and wagon works at Newton Heath in Manchester.

Wagons designed between 1870 and 1903
These were the most commonly seen goods wagons up to about 1910. From 1904 improved versions were designed and built as illustrated below in ‘Wagons Designed between 1904 and 1914’.

Diagram 1: Low Goods Wagon Built: 1870-1902 Quantity: around 9000

Diagram 3: Covered Wagon Built: 1870s-1903 Quantity: 3621

Diagram 15: Freight Wagon with Falling Sides Built: 1892-1902 Quantity: 1722

Diagram 16: Freight Wagon Built: 1870-1902 Quantity: 1827

Diagram 19: Covered Cattle Truck 18ft 7in Built: 1880-1920 Quantity: 650

Diagram 21: Goods Brake (Break) Van Built: 1870s-1902 Quantity: 550

Diagram 32a: Single Bolster Wagon Built: 1898-1920 Quantity: 1699

A Fleetwood to Blackpool goods train at Poulton in the early 20th century hauled by an 0-6-0ST converted by Aspinall from a Barton Wright tender engine. The train comprises: Dia 1 low goods, two Dia.3 covered goods, Dia. 1, Dia 15 3-plank dropside, Dia. 3, five private owner wagons, two unidentified open wagons and a Dia. 21 10 ton brake van (known as Tin Tabs – after cheap metal clad chapels of the time which were known as Tin Tabernacles).

Wagons designed between 1904 and 1914
New, larger designs were introduced in fairly small numbers from 1904 and in significant numbers from 1910, gradually changing the appearance of a typical train of 20 wagons. This would now be four single plank and one three plank opens, six half box (4 or more 20ft or longer) and four covered goods (probably two small and two 20ft or longer), four private owner coal wagon and a break van – a transformation in type and size of LYR vehicles but not the private owner ones. By 1920 there would be a much greater likelihood of wagons from other railway companies appearing caused by the introduction of pooling arrangements during the First World War. Some of the most numerous types are shown below.

Diagram 59 upper: 30 ton Open Goods Wagon Built: 1905 Quantity: 25

Diagram 61: 20 ton Goods Brake Van Built: 1904-1914 Quantity: 248

Diagram 62: Covered Goods Wagon Built: 1904-1908 Quantity: 528

Diagram 63: 10 ton Freight Wagon Built: 1904-1910 Quantity: 1310

Diagram 68: 20 ton Coal Wagon Built: 1906-1914 Quantity: 541

Diagram 81: 12 ton High Sided Wagon Built: 1910-1919 Quantity: 3847

Diagram 82: Covered Goods Wagon Built: 1910-1918 Quantity: 597

Wagons designed for specialist traffic
Specialist vehicles were very much the exception rather than the norm and the traffic was dealt with by a series of wagons designed to meet individual requirements. Some ran as part of general merchandise trains but some, such as fish from Fleetwood, ran in rakes on regular scheduled workings.

Diagram 48: Refrigerator Van Built: 1903-1914 Quantity: 200

Diagram 60: Gunpowder Van Built: 1904-1913 Quantity: 19

Diagram 64: Butter Van Built: 1904-1910 Quantity: 100

Diagram 72: Fish Van Built: 1906-1920 Quantity: 445

Wagon liveries
Until the early 20th century wagons were plain wood (sometimes varnished) with black ironwork. The company was identified by the cast numberplate on the solebar and the illiterate symbol as seen on the photo of Diagram 16 above. Painting all the wagon body started in 1902 and from then on grey with white company initials was the standard livery for wagons. Photographic evidence suggests a mid-grey but with all the dirt and grime around and infrequent repaints there would have been many different shades on view. The digitally coloured photo below shows a Dia. 80 Low Goods (1860 built between 1910 and 1920). There were exceptions: brake vans were painted black, and for a short time in the Edwardian period specialist vans were apparently painted in pastel shades – blue for butter, green for fish and pink for meat. Refrigerator vans were white. The scheme did not last long and in 1908 a new batch of fish vans were painted white.

Diagram 80: Low Goods Built: 1910-1920 Quantity: 1860

Notes and Further Reading

The men who had the greatest influence on wagon design were:

F. Attock – Carriage & Wagon Superintendent 1877-1895

G. Banks – Assistant C&WS 1899–1909 (Carriage & Wagon matters now came under Aspinall as CME – Attock had reported direct to the Board)

F.E. Gobey – Assistant C&WS 1909–1922

Others who held important posts at the carriage and wagon works for short periods included George Hughes and Nigel Gresley.

From 1904, Hughes, as Chief Mechanical Engineer, was in overall control and the AC&WS of the day reported to him.

Newton Heath carriage and wagon works was closed in 1930. It later re-opened as a pre-cast concrete works for the LMS and BR, finally closing in the 1990s and the site has since become part of the Manchester Central Park development – but it does have a lasting legacy. The works staff had many social activities including a football team established in 1878 which played under the name of Newton Heath LYR. Over the years the club grew an independent existence and after various ups and downs eventually moved to a new ground on the other side of the city. This led to a decision to change the name of the club – and so, on 26th April, 1902, the Board of Directors chose their new name: Manchester United.

Further Reading

Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway
Wagon Diagrams
 by Noel Coates.
Published in 2000 by The L&YR Society

Lancashire & Yorkshire Wagons
Volume One
 by Noel Coates.
Published in 1990 by Wild Swan

Lancashire & Yorkshire Wagons
Volume Two
 by Noel Coates.
Published in 2006 by Wild Swan

Go to the Books section of the Shop for details of how to obtain a copy.