GWR 17410 'Toad' 20T Goods Brake Van

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GWRGreat Western Railway 17410 'ToadGWR telegraphic code signifying a goods brake van, which became the standard design's nickname' 20T Goods Brake Van
GWR 17410b 20180626.jpg
GWRGreat Western Railway ToadGWR telegraphic code signifying a goods brake van, which became the standard design's nickname Brake Van 17410
Built By GWRGreat Western Railway Swindon
Status Operational
Number 17410
Built 1940
Type Brake van
Capacity 20 tons
Telegraphic code ToadGWR telegraphic code signifying a goods brake van, which became the standard design's nickname
Brakes Vacuum fitted
1970 Entered preservation on SVRSevern Valley Railway
2016-2018 Restoration

Goods Wagons

17410, June 2018
20 ton 'ToadGWR telegraphic code signifying a goods brake van, which became the standard design's nickname' Brake Van 17410 was built at Swindon in 1940, one of a batch of 100 financed by the War Department but taken straight into GWRGreat Western Railway stock. The diagram number was AA.21, lot number 1370. It was vacuum fitted with screw couplings. An original stencil on an internal wall suggests that its first allocation was to Cardiff, but when last in SVRSevern Valley Railway service it was lettered in late GWRGreat Western Railway style grey livery and allocated to "Bristol RU".

Early in its life the sanding gear was removed, and its place was taken by additional ballast. It is believed that the additional adhesion weight would have been of more use to a fitted brake van. Many other preserved vac. fitted Toads have undergone the same modification.

17410 in preservation

It arrived on the SVRSevern Valley Railway on 24 November 1970, purchased by a group of working members known as the 17410 Fund, and was restored the following year, after which it saw regular use by the PWPermanent Way Department. Following withdrawal as surplus to PWPermanent Way requirements and in very poor condition it languished in Bewdley yard. The van is known to many on the SVRSevern Valley Railway as "Don Wilcox's toad".

2015 restoration

Restoration by the LNER Carriage Group began in December 2015 with the aim that once restored, it could be used as a fitted brake van on demonstration freight trains, filming and photo charters, and for brake van rides. In early 2016 the 17410 Fund transferred ownership to the SVR Charitable Trust for restoration and continued preservation on the SVRSevern Valley Railway.[1]

A new pair of veranda side doors and replacement opening window frames were made, and the end hatch restored. The layers of paint were removed from the interior, when it was found that its first, "as built" internal finish was scumble grained in imitation beech and cedar with a light oak ceiling. The number 17410 was stenciled opposite the guard's seat in pink lettering, with the word "CARDIFF" (presumably its first allocation) below. Its later (presumed BRBritish Rail or British Railways) interior finish was off white (ivory) and bauxite with a white ceiling.

During the summer/autumn of 2016, the vacuum brake cylinder and handbrake pedestal were removed to safe storage and the rotten steel veranda sides and underfloor platework were consigned to the scrapheap. A considerable amount of (very necessary) weld repair was then carried out by a skilled volunteer on the exposed section of underframe, ballast bins and bases of the cabin and side door posts.[2][3] A heavy job was the emptying, cleaning, strengthening, painting and re-filling of all eight underfloor ballast bins.

New veranda side and end plates,underfloor support plates, curb rails and corner posts were made and fitted by Mawley Engineering Ltd to replace the thoroughly rotten originals. However the very prominent waist level angle irons, the two vertical "T" sections at the end, and the two side door slam posts were in good condition and were refurbished and re-used. The new structure was seal welded to prolong its life expectancy, but volunteers undertook the time consuming job of drilling the new steelwork for snap head rivets to maintain the authentic look.

Fortunately the steelwork at the van sides and end was mostly restorable, and after emptying many broken drawhooks and worn out brake blocks from the sandboxes and ballast bin (under the end windows and hatch), the rust and life expired end section of curb rail were removed. The floor plate (and hence the end of the body) had been lifted about half an inch by rust scale which was removed prior to the said plate being seam welded to the headstockThe underframe member across each end of a wagon carrying the buffers and coupling. Known as the Bufferbeam on a locomotive. to prevent a repetition. A replacement curb rail and floor strengthening angle iron were also welded in place, and the ballast replaced. The steel lower van sides were starting to suffer from rust due to water ingress through the failed seals. A new sealing system was used, involving steel angle seam welded to the top inside edge of the original steel plates. It is invisible, saves much "original fabric", and hopefully will improve 17410's longevity. By September 2017 the new floor was installed, made from 3" thick Douglas Fir tongue and groove boards, and both sides and ends had been refurbished with new Douglas Fir planks.

The restoration was completed in time for 17410 to be used as brake van in the June 2018 Goods Gala Demonstration Goods Train. The Fund raised around £10,000 for the work through the Charitable Trust of the total £20,000 project.


See also

List of goods wagons
Rolling stock currently under restoration


17410 on the Railway Heritage Register Wagon Survey
SVRSevern Valley Railway Stock Book Eighth Edition

  1. Public Notice GWR ‘Toad’ 17410, dated 1 September 2015, accessed 10 November 2015
  2. NatPres forum SVR Wagons Thread
  3. 17410 restoration updates on