GWR 80684 Ballast Wagon

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GWRGreat Western Railway 80684 Ballast Wagon
GWR 80684 20150801.jpg
GWRGreat Western Railway 80684 Ballast Wagon (2015)
Built By GWRGreat Western Railway Swindon
Number 80684
Built 1936
Diagram P15
Lot 1215
Type 4-wheel ballast wagon
Capacity 10 tons
Telegraphic code STARFISH (BRBritish Rail or British Railways)
1985 Arrived on SVRSevern Valley Railway
1985 Appeared on the main line

Goods Wagons

80684 is a GWRGreat Western Railway 10-ton all-steel dropside ballast wagon. The 'new generation' ballast wagons of this type began in 1935 with Diagram P15,[note 1] which had an increased length over earlier designs of 16ft 6in over the headstocksThe underframe member across each end of a wagon carrying the buffers and coupling. Known as the Bufferbeam on a locomotive. while retaining a 9ft wheelbase. The internal height of 1ft 10in gave a nominal 8 cubic yard capacity.[1] 380 ballast wagons (and a further 11 CMEChief Mechanical Engineer sand wagons) were built to this diagram, of which the SVRSevern Valley Railway is home to three preserved examples.

The GWRGreat Western Railway did not allocate telegraphic codes to DepartmentalRolling stock used for the railway’s own functions (engineering etc.) rather than for general passenger or goods traffic. wagons of this type, although it was later classified as a STARFISH by BRBritish Rail or British Railways.

Service and preservation

80684 was built at Swindon circa 1936-37 to Diagram P15 as part of Lot 1215. It finished its working life with BRBritish Rail or British Railways(W) at Swindon around the end of 1984, having been fitted with a new floor by BRBritish Rail or British Railways shortly before being decommissioned.[2] Having been condemned there, it was purchased by The GWR 813 Preservation Fund but was then 'lost', turning up in use in an engineering train at Gloucester several months later.[3][note 2]

Some eleven years before 80684's preservation, the SVRSevern Valley Railway had become home to three other 10-ton ballast wagons, all of which were acquired from Swindon in November 1973 for P-Way work. 80225 and 80603 (both Diagram P15) were owned by SVRSevern Valley Railway(H), while Diagram P18 wagon 30903 was owned by the GWRGreat Western Railway 813 Fund. 80684 arrived on the SVRSevern Valley Railway in April 1985. With the floor having been recently replaced, it was in generally good condition apart from one cracked axlebox which was repaired in July of that year. A quick repaint in GWRGreat Western Railway Engineers' black livery was also carried out at the same time; the entire job taking just over a week.[4]

Two months later 80684, 80225 and 80603 all appeared on the main line as part of the GW 150 demonstration freight train which ran to Newport in September 1985 behind GWR freight loco 2857.[4]. The four wagons then continued in P-Way service, the 1998 Stock Book noting that they were " almost daily use up-and-down the Railway."

80684 continued in SVRSevern Valley Railway service with only 'routine maintenance' until being stopped in 2005 with damage to the axlebox casting, an issue common to these wagons as described in the article on sister wagon 80603. The overhaul began in Autumn 2006 with the initial plan being simply to fit modified door stop springs, replace the axlebox casting, and return the wagon to service. However inspection showed that use of the wagon for the storage of locomotive ash had resulted in corrosion of the end panels of the steel body. These were removed, new material cut to size and drilled ready for riveting. Removal of the end panels revealed that the corner uprights were also badly corroded. These were removed in turn and new corners fabricated using left-over steel from another repair job at Bewdley.[3] The new parts were welded in place and a new floor was also welded in using thicker 8mm plate to help extend its life span. After repainting in GWRGreat Western Railway Engineers' black livery, the wagon was "...returned to P. Way (ab)use" in February 2007.[5]

80684 is still owned by The GWR 813 Preservation Fund, although most P-Way work is now carried out by larger and more modern BRBritish Rail or British Railways-era ballast wagons such as the Rudd and Seacow.

See Also

List of goods wagons


  1. 270 wagons of the previous Diagram P14 were built before WW1 with 30 others ordered but never completed due to the War. No others were then built until Diagram P15 in the mid-1930s.
  2. An earlier report in SVRSevern Valley Railway News 78 referred to 80684 "...turning up at Worcester".


  1. Atkins, Beard & Tourret (2013) pp. 319-320
  2. SVRSevern Valley Railway Stock Book Ninth Edition
  3. 3.0 3.1 SVRSevern Valley Railway News 155
  4. 4.0 4.1 SVRSevern Valley Railway News 78
  5. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 163