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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Leamington Spa Station: gwrls3851

Leamington's shunter's truck seen in the goods yard coupled to a British Railways Class 8 0-6-0 Diesel Shunter

Leamington's shunter's truck seen in the goods yard coupled to a British Railways Class 08 0-6-0 Diesel Shunter. It carried tools and it was used by the men shunting eg applying the wagon brakes, coupling and uncoupling wagons to ride on. It was safer than hanging onto a wagon with the chance of falling off. As can be seen, the shunters wagon had a step and hand rail the full length of the wagon. The locker on top would contain those most useful of tools, the re-railing ramps, together with other useful apparatus such as chocks, sprags, and brake sticks. Derailments in shunting yards were commonplace, almost a daily occurrence. The yard staff would quickly re-rail an errant vehicle by placing the correct ramps just ahead of the derailed wheels, attaching an engine, and gently pulling it back 'on'. The ramp guided the wheel back in line with the rail. It was restrained by lugs cast into the underside that fitted over the rail head, and were usually padlocked through brackets attached under the rail to keep them there. There were a variety of ramps to suit every occasion. Made of cast steel, and very heavy, they were 'handed' left and right, and made to go inside and outside the gauge. Similar to re-railers sometimes sold to help modellers to put model wagons on to the track.

A shunter's truck was also a safe place for a shunter to ride, on the running boards, and were attached all the time to a shunting engine. They saved a lot of walking up and down the yard. When the English Electric 350 horse power 0-6-0 Class 08 and 09 diesel shunters appeared they had an inset step at the front (bonnet) end on either side for shunters to ride on, duplicating and somewhat replacing the shunting truck. The GWR were big users of shunters trucks, you saw them in virtually every yard that had 57xx pannier tanks allocated. Chocks were wooden blocks to go under the wheels to prevent a wagon rolling away when handbrakes were defective. Sprags were wooden poles to go through the wheel spokes for a similar purpose. Brake sticks were heavy wooden sticks used by shunters to hold down a brake lever while he inserted a pin into the brake guard, or got a ratchet to engage to ensure hand brakes were securely 'on'. The shunter's coupling pole would probably be too long to go into a tool box, but as seen above, one or two would lie on the top of the wagon floor, or across the buffer casings. At yards where there were no shunters trucks the ramps, sprags and such like were kept in the shunter's cabin or bothy, and brake sticks and shunting poles left on the front footplating of the shunting engine, or on the platforms at the end of guards vans. Except when sent away for repair shunting trucks rarely strayed far from the yard where they were allocated.

The following image is a colourised version of the above photograph by Tony Payne of the Facebook Page 'Colourising Railways'

Leamington's shunter's truck seen in the goods yard coupled to a British Railways Class 8 0-6-0 Diesel Shunter