GWR 68501 'Toad' 20T Goods Brake Van

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GWRGreat Western Railway 68501 'ToadGWR telegraphic code signifying a goods brake van, which became the standard design's nickname' 20T Goods Brake Van
GWR 68501 20160305.jpg
GWRGreat Western Railway 68501 'ToadGWR telegraphic code signifying a goods brake van, which became the standard design's nickname' 20T Goods Brake Van
Built By GWRGreat Western Railway Swindon
Status Operational
Number 68501
Built 1925
Diagram AA.15
Lot 932
Type Brake Van
Capacity 20 tons
Telegraphic code TOAD
Brakes Non-vacuum braked
1975 Entered preservation
1985 Appeared on the main line

Goods Wagons

GWRGreat Western Railway 68501 'ToadGWR telegraphic code signifying a goods brake van, which became the standard design's nickname' 20T Goods Brake Van was built by the GWRGreat Western Railway at Swindon in 1925. It was one of 378 20 ton non-vacuum braked 16' wheelbase Brake Vans built as Lot 932 to Diagram AA15.[1][2]


68501 was purchased from BRBritish Rail or British Railways Radstock in 1975 by The GWR 813 Preservation Fund, arriving on 25 July.[3][note 1] Some body work was carried out the following year[4], while major restoration work was undertaken at Bewdley between January and May 1980. The roof required re-canvassing, while the verandah had several large holes and was buckled by rot. New steel plate was fitted on the verandah, a new wooden top made for the ballast box and a new oak frame for the sand boxes. A dozen boards were replaced and the roof recanvassed, followed by repainting.[5] Following this major structural rebuilding, it featured regularly in demonstration freight trains on gala weekends.[3]

In early 1985, 68501 was one of six wagons selected for display at the GWRGreat Western Railway 150 exhibition at Swindon, for which further repairs were required including being fitted with new footboards and having several floor panels replaced.[6] One week after repairs to the wagons were complete, the event was cancelled after the closure of the Swindon works was announced. However 68501 then appeared on the main line when it was used as the brake van in the GW 150 demonstration freight train which ran to Newport behind GWR freight loco 2857.[7]

During the Autumn Steam Gala in 1990, 68501 suffered a sidelong coming-together with pannier tank 5764. The brake van required repairs to handrails, step boards roof planks and a new roof canvas; 5764 also required bodywork repairs.[8]

During the following year’s Autumn Steam Gala, 68501 suffered more damage when one of the sand pipes was caught on a rail joint at Kidderminster. This was drawn to the Guard's attention by a passenger pointing out that 'The exhaust pipe has fallen off!'.[9] Further repairs were required in 1996 when 68501 sustained a broken window and cabin-end damage during a misguided attempt to move an out-of-gauge load.[10]

The first major overhaul since 1980 was undertaken at Bewdley, beginning in early 2006. The underframe was cleaned and painted, and new step boards constructed. A replacement sand pipe for the one broken off in 1991 was also fitted while the roof canvas fitted in that year was also replaced. A number of planks were replaced in the body and cabin door, while the two side doors were also removed and replacements made. The floor planks were replaced using spare Keruing(Trade name) A type of medium hardwood timber obtained from trees of the genus Dipterocarpus planks left over from earlier jobs. The stove was repaired, with a new cast fire brick lining and new stovepipe fitted. The guard's seat was re-upholstered and the wagon repainted in the same livery as before. The overhaul was completed in March 2007.[11]

Over winter/spring 2011, 68501 received a complete overhaul of the handbrake gear, with new pins being machined and a number of components re-bushed.[12]

68501 was moved into Bewdley Goods Shed in October 2017 for a repaint and minor repairs. These were completed in time for The GWR 813 Preservation Fund’s brake van specials on 25 November 2017.[13]


  1. Vintage Wagon Survey says 5 July, SVRSevern Valley Railway Stock Book Ninth Edition says 25 July 1975. GWR 813 Fund additionally state the van was acquired in 1971.

See also

List of goods wagons


  1. Railway Heritage Register Wagon Survey
  2. GWRGreat Western Railway 813 Preservation Fund
  3. 3.0 3.1 SVRSevern Valley Railway Stock Book Ninth Edition
  4. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 39
  5. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 63
  6. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 176
  7. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 78
  8. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 98
  9. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 102
  10. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 119
  11. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 155, 163
  12. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 175
  13. (retrieved 3 December 2017)