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GWR 20 ton "Toad" Brakevan 56550
Above: GWR 20 ton brake van conversion 56550, as restored in Cambrian Railways livery
Above: GWR brake converted to mess van in train at Barmouth Junction, May 1960
Instead of being broken up, 56550 was converted to a Mess and Sleeping Van for permanent way gangs on lot 1003. Records show its weight was reduced to 11 tons 4 cwt by removing the scrap ballast under the floor. It was fitted with steam pipes, vacuum brakes and external hand brakes, the continuous lower footboards were removed and the drawgear was altered. The open verandah was enclosed and a sink, bunks and a partition were installed to provide separate day and night accomodation. On completion on 18 October 1958 it was lettered "Staff Thermit Welders Oswestry District CE Dept" and used by BR civil engineers when engaged in the construction of lengths of welded rail on site. After 25 years on this duty it was condemned again, at Mold, in 1983, and despatched to Crewe, then to Longport Sidings, Stoke-on-Trent among some other wagons destined for scrapping.
Above: GWR brake 56550 as ZSP mess van at Crewe in August 1983
Here it was spotted by a dedicated Foxfield member who realised its potential, and after some negotiation he purchased it from British Rail. So, saved from scrapping for the second time in its life, 56550 arrived at Foxfield on 13 October 1984. Since then it has remained in its post conversion condition but has been thoroughly overhauled. Immaculate inside and out, it currently carries the attractive livery of the Cambrian Railways which is not authentic but is appropriate for the location where it spent the latter part of its working life. Occasionally 56550 has been used as the "Fat Controller's Saloon" where the famous stories of a certain blue Tank Engine are read to enthralled children.
Above: GWR brake 56550 standing idle at Chester
Wagon Repair Depot in 1983
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