British Railway Wagons – the first half million


With some research projects on the horizon I’ve decided to bolster my book collection and what better start than British Railway Wagons, the first half million by Don Rowland.

A real bargain find on ebay at just £1.70 plus postage, even this 1997 reprint  from 1997 normally goes for a bit more than that and I was chuffed to find an excellent condition 2nd edition copy  on my door mat just a couple of days later.

A very useful tool for historians and modellers, Rowland methodically works through a range of BR wagon types discussing the wagons purpose before looking at the individual wagon diagrams, referencing all sorts of useful facts, figures and information in a consistently rhythmic fashion.

The chapter contents are as follows:

  1. Review
  2. Open Merchandise Wagons
  3. Mineral Wagons
  4. Hopper Wagons
  5. Covered Vans
  6. Tank Wagons
  7. Cattle Wagons
  8. Rail and Timber Wagons
  9. Brake Vans
  10. Service Vehicles
  11. Special Wagons
  12. Containers
  13. Apocrypha
  14. Appendices

There’s always a danger of books like this becoming statistically stodgy and overtly tricky to read, but the uncomplicated and informative text flows smoothly making reading and improving personal knowledge a very enjoyable experience.

175 quality black and white photos, mostly by the author, some by D Larkin and others provided by BR or wagon manufactures,  provide examples not just of the wagons, but the locations and environments in which they worked. Being black and white referencing for liveries and weathering is limited, but they do show the condition of real life working wagons and with experience this information can be interpreted fairly well.

Many of the wagons have drawings with key dimensions (109 in total) and for modellers most of these are reproduced to 4mm scale.

Near the back there are appendixes of lot and diagram numbers, plus details of diagrams plus a comprehensive Index page.

The book is not currently in print, but both 1st edition (orange dust jacket) and the 1996 reprint in my collection and illustrated above, appears widely available on eBay and amazon with price ranges typically between £5 and £10 although by it now and Amazon prices are generally between £10 – £20. (2017)

Book Specifications

    • Full title: British Railways Wagons: The First Half Million
    • Author: Rowland, Don
    • Publisher: Leopard Books, 1996
    • Edition: 2nd ?
    • Binding: Hardcover / 192 Pages
    • Dimensions: 258 x 198 x 22 mm
    • Weight: 0.789kg
    • ISBN: 0 7529 0378 0
    • EAN: 9 780752 903781
    • Copyright: D.P. Rowland 1985

Other Editions

    • Publisher: David Charles, 1985
    • Edition: 1st Edition
    • Binding: Hardcover / 192 Pages
    • ISBN: 0 7153 8183 0
    • EAN: 9 780715 381830

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