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Shelton Iron & Steel covered vans nos 1, 2, 3 and 4

 
Above: Shelton van SIS 1 restored on one side in the livery of the Salt Union, Winsford


These vans are all conversions of mineral wagons of various types, and links have been made from the pages of the originating design as Foxfield is fortunate to have examples of most of them also in original condition. The conversions vary in complexity, but basically entailed extending the body upwards by about 2'6" and fitting a simple timber roof covered in roofing felt. This set of four wagons were converted in the 1960s and replaced some very ancient vans at Shelton which dated back to around 1900; while some have claimed they were ex North Staffordshire Railway there is no evidence of this from their design. The 1960s conversions are all different and each is described in turn:

Number SIS 1 is a conversion of a Private Owner 7 plank coal wagon to the RCH 1923 design, being one of the first to this new standard, registered by the Midland Railway in 1923 as no30420. It originally had side and bottom doors; if there was ever an end door all trace has been removed. On conversion at Shelton in 1969 the doors and vertical washer plates have been removed on one side, whereas on the other side hinged doors have replaced the usual type hinged to the curb rail. SIS 1 retains its original spoked type of wheels. Then an extension of three planks has been added on top, plus a low arced roof and windows in each end. The interior was equipped with workbenches and racks for permanent way maintenance equipment. SIS 1 was purchased by a Foxfield member and moved to the railway in September 1979, where it was fully restored in green livery with black corner plates and used for the storage of loco parts. It was purchased by the webmaster of this site in 199 and renovated for use as a mobile workshop for wagon repairs at Caverswall Road depot, first receiving a quick repaint in grey livery with the lettering of the "Salt Union" of Winsford on the door side as it bears a great resemblance to the salt vans operated by that company in the 1930s. However after fitting a new roof and some replacement planks in 2000 it became obvious that a total repaint was needed and so the local red livery of "Stafford Salt Works" was chosen, as used in the 1950s. The correct lettering for Shelton internal use as a platelayers' tool van is carried on the other side.

Number SIS 2 is also a conversion from an open wagon for internal use at Shelton Bar. The original wagon had a steel underframe and probably dated from the 1940s, but whether it had a wooden body like the RCH 7 or 8 plank mineral wagons, or steel body like the Butterley Patent Wagon, is unclear. The underframe still carries the bottom door levers and conforms to RCH 1923 12 ton specifications: it measures 16'6" long over headstocks and has a 9'0" wheelbase. SIS 2 was acquired through the auction of exhibits at the Chatterley Whitfield Mining Museum on 16 April 1994. It had suffered serious rot and a start has been made by its owner at replacing timber in the roof and sides.

Above: Shelton platelayers van SIS 3 seen on 30 May 1994 just after delivery to Foxfield

By contrast number SIS 3 is a conversion of a wagon of much earlier, all-timber construction. Its length of only 16 feet suggests that it conformed originally to an earlier specification such as the RCH 1907 coal wagon design. The existence of brakes on only one side suggests it may have been withdrawn from main line service prior to WW2. On conversion to a platelayers tool van it was given a steep pitched roof, reminiscent of a salt van. It has original style split-spoke wheels but later pattern oil axleboxes. SIS 3 was originally donated from Shelton to the Chatterley Whitfield Mining Museum and was bought privately at the auction in April 1994 after its closure. In generally better condition than SIS 2 when it arrived, it still carries it light blue livery and is currently stored at Foxfield Wood sidings.

Above: Shelton platelayers van SIS 4 in October 1994 prior to repainting in black livery 

Number SIS 4 is a conversion resulting in a very similar wagon to SIS 1, but this one clearly started life as an RCH 1907 design standard mineral wagon, being 16 feet long with 6-plank sides and probably without an end door. It has later acquired 3 hole disc wheels and RCH 1923 pattern axleboxes. On rebuilding to a platelayers' tool van in 1967 it has been extended to 8-plank sides and acquired a roof of three flat surfaces, the outer two being slightly inclined to throw off the rain. This is a poor design and probably accounts for the much inferior condition of the body of SIS 4 compared with SIS 1. Like all the ex-Shelton platelayers vans, though, the underframe is in generally good condition. It has low doors on both sides. On arrival at Foxfield in September 1979 after purchase by a member SIS 4 was restored to a grey livery for the storage of loco parts. Since sale to the webmaster of this site, it has received some replanking and a repaint in a black livery with the fictitious number "54", but it requires a thorough overhaul before it can be used for any practical purpose. SIS 4 may be converted back to a 1907 design open mineral wagon again at some point.

Bringing these vans together with the converted narrow gauge Ruston locomotive "Hercules", Foxfield has the complete permanent way train from Shelton Steelworks.

 
For more information on the Foxfield Steam Railway, its passenger services and special events please see the official website at http://www.foxfieldrailway.co.uk.