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Butterley Co 12 ton Patent steel mineral wagon SIS 695

Above: Butterley wagon restored in "Parkhall & Foxfield" livery and used for locomotive  coal 
Although it now looks rather like most other wooden bodied coal wagons at Foxfield, this one has a particularly interesting history in the development of the design. Originally it was a Butterley Patent Wagon, one of a quantity of wagons built in the mid 1930s to demonstrate the advantages of all metal 12 ton capacity coal wagons for use by collieries and coal merchants, which had traditionally favoured timber construction for around 100 years. The Butterley Engineering Company in Derbyshire took out a patent on the design, producing variations with side doors but with optional end and bottom doors. All sections were rivetted together; welding was not yet common. Many were painted in Butterley's own gloss black livery enlivened with yellow corner plates and large yellow letters shaded red. Others were painted in the liveries of operators who hired or bought them to try them out. The advantages and disadvantages of steel wagons were weighed up and the two largest railway companies, the LMS and LNER, started to produce new mineral wagons in steel to somewhat similar designs for their own fleets during the early years of World War Two. The Butterley Patent Wagon design was important because it paved the way for literally hundreds of thousands of all-steel MoWT and BR mineral wagons over the next twenty five years.

Above: Butterley Patent Wagon number 3020, identical to ex Shelton number 695 when it was built

It is not known which operator first used the wagon now preserved at Foxfield, or which livery it carried. It would have been pooled in 1939 with all the privately owned wagons and if it was ever repainted after that, it would have appeared in BR grey, with a P-prefix number allocated at its first general repair after nationalisation in 1948. Any trace of this number has been lost with the passage of time. At sometime in its life, probably in the late 1950s, it was sold out of service to Shelton steelworks where it was renumbered 695 in the fleet of internal use wagons. Due to corrosion the steel body has been largely removed and steel section stanchions bolted on to support a more conventional wooden planked body. It is still possible, however, to see the remains of the original body at the corners and around the side doors. The underframe and running gear remain remarkably totally original, including the Butterley cast axleboxes and the locking handles for bottom doors. This wagon was chosen for preservation at Foxfield purely by chance, as the wooden underframe wagons from among which it was selected were in far worse condition. It arrived by road in September 1979 and was restored to the livery of the Parkhall and Foxfield Colliery Company, number 4143. It is in need of further attention but is usually to be found containing locomotive coal. In view of its hybrid construction its future may be restored in the guise of a Shelton internal use wagon, or far more adventurous, as a rebuild back to its Butterley condition as the sole surviving representative of an important step in the development of the British goods wagon.

One of the Shelton platelayers tool vans is also a conversion of a steel underframe coal wagon of some kind, but probably with a wooden body.

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