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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

GWR Route: North Warwickshire Line

Tyseley Shed: gwrt2365

Ex-Great Western Railway Railcars No 13 and No 17 are seen in dirty condition alongside Tyseley shed in March 1960

Ex-Great Western Railway Railcars No 13 and No 17 are seen in dirty condition alongside Tyseley shed in March 1960. Railcar No 13 was a 70 seater unit and was built in March 1936 weighing 29 ton 10 cwt and remained in service until August 1960. Railcar No 17, designed to be an express parcels car with a capacity of 10 tons, was built in April 1936 weighing 28 tons 17 cwt and had been withdrawn a year early, in January 1959. The story of the Great Western railcar began with its inventor, CF Cleaver of Hardy Railmotors Limited. Hardy's were a subsidiary of the Associated Equipment Co. Ltd. (AEC), and they had provided petrol and diesel powered shunting locomotives in addition to four- and six-wheel drive lorries and tractors through their associated company, the Four Wheel Drive Lorry Company. Cleaver was a man of considerable zeal and realised that the established and successful 130 bhp six-cylinder AEC diesel engine that was used in London buses and numerous other commercial vehicles, was capable of powering a lightweight self-contained railcar, especially if it utilised streamlining that was popular at the time. The body of the first prototype was broadly based on the popular 'Flying Hambuger' diesel unit of Duetsche Reichsbahn, but after wind tunnel tests were carried out at the Chiswick laboratory of the London Passenger Transport Board, the body was transformed into a sleek streamlined design with a waisted frontal area.

Using the 8.85 litre diesel engine, drive was passed to a five-speed pre-selective gearbox with a fluid flywheel to drive to a pair of axleboxes on one side of the railcar. The 69 seater body was built by Park Royal Coachworks of Willesden, another AEC subsidiary, and measured 62 feet in length and 9 feet in width. Maximum speed was 63 mph with control shared between the ends of the railcar. Before completion, the railcar was bought by the Great Western but prior to entering service, it was displayed at the International Commercial Motor Transport Exhibition at Olympia in November 1933. Such was the railcar's popularity at the exhibition, it was estimated that 35,000 people or 53.25 per cent of those that paid for admission to Olympia, visited the railcar. Great publicity, something that the Great Western thrived on, was also given to the railcars movement from Olympia to the GWR sidings at Brentford when the exhibition closed. Continued

Technical history courtesy of The Great Western Archive: www.greatwestern.org.uk

Courtesy Steve Davies of www.britishrailwayphotographs.com