BR 'Seacow' 40t Bogie Ballast Hoppers

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BRBritish Rail or British Railways 'Seacow' 40t Bogie Ballast Hoppers
Seacows 20170317.jpg
Seacow ballast hoppers at Eardington
Built By See table
Status See table
Number See table
Built 1981
Diagram YG500H (Design Code)
Lot 3966
Type Bogie ballast hopper
Capacity 40 tons
Telegraphic code SEACOW
Brakes Air braked
2017 Arrived on the SVRSevern Valley Railway

Goods Wagons

The basis of this type is a design by the London and South Western Railway, first introduced in 1903. Featuring a large hopper with slab sides, each with 7 vertical ribs, the type has three discharge chutes, one to the outside of each rail and one in the centre. At each end of the wagon is a control platform with three large handwheels to control each of the chute doors.

Further builds for BRBritish Rail or British Railways took place in 1954 (Walrus), 1971-1974 (Sealion and Seacow) and 1981-1982 (Seacow). Apart from the bogies there were only minor changes between the oldest and the newest builds, a testimony to the soundness of the original design. Depending on braking arrangements, wagons were designated YGV Walrus (vacuum braked only), YGH Sealion (dual vacuum/air braked) or YGB Seacow (air braked only but with the addition of a vacuum through pipe). Those with vacuum piping removed were reclassified YGA.


In 1981 BRBritish Rail or British Railways introduced Design Codes to replace the former Diagram number system, with the final build of Seacows in 1981-82 being the first wagons to receive such a Design Code (YG500H). This last batch presented a slightly different appearance as the hopper body was now primarily welded instead of rivetted and the vertical ribs were formed of box rather than U-sections. The wagons were mounted on more modern Y27CS bogies with roller bearings.

All six of the SVRSevern Valley Railway's examples came from this batch, of which DB980000-DB980244 formed Lot 3966 and DB980245-DB980250 formed Lot 4010. Construction began in March 1981 (although the works plate of one the SVRSevern Valley Railway's examples, DB980015, bears a 1980 date). Production began at Shildon and was transferred to Ashford. The majority of this build went to MAINLINE with others going to TRANSRAIL and a smaller batch to LOADHAUL[1].

Acquisition and use by the SVRSevern Valley Railway

In March 2017 the SVRSevern Valley Railway announced the purchase of six Seacow wagons from DBS Cargo, five for use and one as a spare, all financed and arranged by a supporter. The greater ballast capacity of the Seacow over the Herring and Dogfish hoppers then in SVRSevern Valley Railway use assists the Permanent Way teams in the annual track relay and ballasting operations. They are air-braked so fit in well with the other 15 similarly fitted 'Rudd' Ballast Wagons and BR 'Parr' Bogie Rail Wagons.

Number Originally built Originally built by TOPS code Status and notes
DB980015 1981 BRBritish Rail or British Railways Shildon YGB Spare, not in use. Lima have produced an OO gauge model of this vehicle
DB980083 1981 BRBritish Rail or British Railways Shildon YGB Operational
DB980098 1981 BRBritish Rail or British Railways Shildon YGB Operational
DB980142 1981 BRBritish Rail or British Railways Shildon YGB Operational
DB980220 1981 BRBritish Rail or British Railways Ashford YGA Operational
DB980239 1981 BRBritish Rail or British Railways Ashford YGA Operational

DBS Cargo locomotive 66068 delivered the Seacows from Bescot to the SVRSevern Valley Railway on 10 March 2017. The final TOPSTotal Operations Processing System, an American computer system adopted by BR from the late 1960s to number and manage rolling stock. code painted on each wagon is shown above. As delivered from DBS Cargo the vacuum brake fittings were removed or disconnected.


See also

List of goods wagons


  1. Larkin Vol 3 (2013), pp. 1, 10.