Carriage & Wagon Blog

Find out here what's happening at Midsomer Norton with our growing wagon and carriage fleet.

A regular update to keep you in the know.

If you would like to donate to assist our volunteers with this work, please make a donation.    Donate here.

Queen Mary repaint
Matthew Harris

9th July - Queen Mary repaint

During June and July our carriage team comprising of Ian, Barry, Simon and Richard have been busy giving the Queen Mary brake van a much-needed repaint.

It will be finished in the standard late 1950’s BR livery that most brake vans would of worn, once completed Matt will add the finishing touches with the sign writing.

5th July - Vanwide begins restoration

During the end of June, Matthew  started the first stages of the restoration of the DMU group's box van, this particular wagon is called a VanWide.

The wagon in question is the predecessor to the PalVan.  In 1959 six standard BR PalVans were fitted with new sliding doors. Following successful trials in general merchandise traffic, this new Vanwide design went into production with some 2,000 being built at Wolverton (1,994 to diagram 1/217 and six to diagram 1/234) between 1961 and 1963. 

B783354 has had its whole underframe repainted so date, Matthew applied hydrate 80 to all  the exposed rust-affected areas and then undercoat grey has been applied ready for the final coat of bauxite paint very soon.

Vanwide restoration begins - underframe treated and painted
Matthew Harris
PMW looking very smart after its repaint. Just the signwriting remaining.
Matthew Harris

7th May - PMW Outshopped for the Gala.

During the week of preparations for our 'Changeover years' gala,  PMV S1162S was outshopped in it’s new British Railways livery. 

This two-week turnaround was a great example of our young volunteers working together as it was repainted by Matthew, Arlen, Michael, and Harry. 

Matthew will be adding the signwriting now that the gala is complete and the PMV will then resumes its use in the railways engineering train. 


It’ll be an integral part of the railways Pines Express gala to be held in September. 

Matthew Harris

9th April - PMV re-paint.

After completing the work to paint LMS brake van M294176, Matthew has now started his biggest project so far, especially in terms of size. Southern Railway Parcels and Miscellaneous Van (PMV) S1162S has worn its now rather tired-looking Southern era livery for well over ten years.  Now, to fit in with the British Railways 50’s era that the railway is recreating, it was decided to repaint the vehicle into mid-Brunswick green, together with all the extensive signwriting that will be applied on the far right side of the wagon. 

So far Matthew has stripped all the old paint away and applied an undercoat to the sides, the next task will be to repaint the ends and underframe of the wagon before the top coat of green can be applied to the woodwork. 

Once finished the repainted PMV will be an added attraction at the railways' Pines Express gala in September,  PMV’s and CCT’s (Covered Carriage Trucks) were often used in mixed passenger sets along the line.  

Sign of the times
Matthew Harris

6th March - Sign of the times.

With the 56th anniversary of the closure of the S&D now upon us the finishing signwriting touches have been added to our LMS brake van, which now looks like it did towards the end of steam. 

The Brake Van has got its identity back - M294176 -with Matt Harris having painted its number on over the weekend. Plus a shiny new coat of paint of bauxite on the body and gloss black on the frames. The restoration of this historic LMS Brake van has been possible both because of the time and effort put in by working members and also the generosity of people who have made donations.

This money is needed to purchase materials to enable such superb restorations to take place. The Trust thanks those who have made financial donations however small. For those who wish to see work such as this continue please either click the link below or visit the Fundraising and Appeals section of the Trusts website. Together we can preserve the history of the S&D.

We look forward to showcasing it at our  'Changeover Gala' in April and additional events throughout 2022. 

 Donate here.


LMS Brake Van - nearing completion
Matthew Harris

21st February - LMS Brake Van Progress

With preparations for the railways 'Changeover Years' gala in late April now underway, work continues on completing the LMS Brake Van, Matthew has been busy adding all the finishing touches, the exterior Bauxite livery has been completed with just white detailing and signwriting to be added. The wagon plates have been finished in the correct British Railways Midland Region format too. 

The plan is for the painting to be completed in mid-March which will then allow for the work on our mineral wagons to be restarted with the intention to have them completed in time for the railway's special Pines Express event in September.

Further details on our Changeover Gala can be found here Changeover Years Gala

SK Refurbishment - new panels installed and varnished
Barrie Papworth

9th February - SK Refurbishment

The Railway is currently running an appeal to raise funds to overhaul the upholstery in the SK (Second Corridor) coach. Whilst all the seats have been removed and taken away to be upholstered, the Carriage Team have stripped out the interior, removing old damaged and warped panelling.

The team are making good progress fitting new wood panelling along the SK's corridor with exactly half of them now replaced.

A couple of the new panels have also received a coat of oak colour staining. Nearest camera new volunteer Ian Shearn puts the final screw in place on a section of beading. Behind him Richard Witcombe squats down to secure the panel below the window which Barry Bradford at the back has just cut.

A great team effort all round.

LMS Brake Van
Matthew Harris

14th January - LMS Brake Van

During the early part of December 2021 it was agreed that our LMS brake van M294176 was needing some cosmetic repairs and TLC. 

Matthew started by transferring all the permanent way equipment that had been stored inside the brake van over to our recently restored Palvan, then gave the whole interior a decent scrub up and clean. 

Once this was finished, work started on laying down black floor paint to help preserve the wooden flooring, fresh black gloss on the handbrake and starting the new interior livery of cream and maroon.

The intention is to have the brake van finished by the time of the Mixed traffic gala in April. I am sure you all agree, its looking very good indeed. 

Our second Dogfish wagon looking very smart after being painted.
Matthew Harris

10th December - Dogfish DB9922897

Recently the main focus at the railway has been the preparation and operation of our very popular Santa trains. However, our C & W volunteers have continued to make progress with the restoration and painting of our wagon fleet.

A big step forward was made with painting the second of our two Dogfish wagons - DB9922897. Matthew who is leading on this project is adding all the final touches to this engineer's wagon and now that the exterior painting is complete, it will be left until the springtime when he will add the signwriting and have it ready for the railways first running weekend of 2022.

The interior of the CCT following interior painting and linoleum fitted.
Steve Jeffrey

30th November - CCT Progress

Our Carriage and Wagon team continues to make excellent progress with the overhaul of the CCT (Covered Carriage Truck).

They have finished painting the interior of the wagon and Carpet and Fabrics Direct Limited supplied and fitted the linoleum. Compare this photo with those in the November library, showing the interior of the vehicle when it first arrived and I'm sure you will agree that our team has made a fantastic job of overhauling the vehicle.

Carpet and Fabrics Direct Limited, are a local Midsomer Norton-based company. Wherever possible we use work with and use local businesses to ensure that we benefit the local economy.

The CCT will be in use over the Christmas period as a temporary home to Santa, - Santa's Grotto. Then in the new year, work will continue to fit out the interior with shelving etc to provide a new sales outlet for the railway of our new and secondhand books.

The railways second Dogfish after cleaning and ready to be painted
Matthew Harris

28th November - Dogfish Progress

Now that Dogfish wagon DB983233 is outshopped and placed into the engineers siding, it’s sister DB9922897 is now the next inline to be repainted by Matthew and Christopher.

Once the BSK  coach had been delivered from Cranmore on Friday 25th November and was out of the way, the wagon was brought down to the up line platform for further work. During the weekend, good progress was made on the wagon with it being deep cleaned and the inside of the frames receiving the first layer of black undercoat. 


Finishing touches - our CME Barrie Papworth painting the pipework on our resident class 03.
Mike Abbott

15th Nov 2021 - Finishing touches

Our Carriage and Wagon volunteers are keeping busy applying the finishing touches to our resident class 03 shunter which now looks superb. 


The main photo shows our Chief Mechanical Engineer - Barrie Papworth - painting the pipework on the front of our class 03 shunter.

CCT Interior2
Steve Jeffrey

11th Nov 2021 - CCT Interior

Our Carriage and Wagon volunteers continue to make excellent progress with the work to complete the interior of the Covered Carriage Truck - CCT.

The vehicle has previously been made watertight and today volunteers have commenced undercoating the interior of the wagon. The interior will finally be completed with the top half  Magnolia and bottom in maroon.

Next week, the work will concentrate on installing the linoleum on the floor and installing LED strip lights. Once the CCT wagon is completed, it will provide additional sales capacity for the railway in use as a book shop.

SNCF Mineral Wagon - after repainting
Matthew Harris

3rd Nov 2021 -SNCF Mineral gets repaint

During our 2021 end of season gala you may have noticed a shiny new looking mineral wagon in our ever-expanding demonstration freight set, thanks to a forty-eight-hour turnaround by volunteers Matthew and Chris, who were able to return SNCF mineral wagon B192437 back to its original livery when it changed hands over to British Railways in 1950 from French beginnings post WW2. 

We caught up with Matthew to find out the whole process of this repaint.

“B192437 repaint was quite a simple process of keying down all the original paintwork that was previously completed by the railway museum in York thirty-one years ago, normally with more time we would completely strip back the paintwork to bare metal but due to a tight timeframe for completion simply keying in was the best and quickest option. Once this task was completed Chris started to apply grey undercoat then once dry grey topcoat to the top end of the wagon, while this was happening I was repainting the bottom end in black gloss which required two coats so the wagon looks it’s best for many years to come, while it’s sisters B160073 and B577004 continue overhaul and move closer to completion during 2022. The final task once all topcoat has dried was to add the black borders where the signwriting is displayed on each end of the wagon, because the wagon is through piped a fitness to run had already been conducted during 2021, it was then the case of simply being outshopped and completed for the end of season gala demonstration freight set. 

PalVan B779696

25th Oct 2021 - BR PalVan reborn for the S&D

BR Pavan B779696 was outshopped during October 2021 in line with its S&D debut into traffic at the end-of-season gala. 

This particular mixed goods wagon could be considered the volunteer's wagon as it’s twelve-month transformation from a completely bare chassis and framework to being completely restored, is thanks to the hardworking volunteers and the continuing donations and support from our members, volunteers and supporters, which we all are very appreciative of. 

The rebuild and repaint has been conducted by many volunteers from our dedicated wagon team, loco department and permanent way gang. The coronavirus pandemic halted progress with this project, however through the collaboration of our various departments the project carried on at a decent pace through this challenging period for the railway. 

During the beginning of October, we caught up with Matthew, one of our volunteers who had the pleasure of adding the finishing details to this splendid wagon - which is a tribute to every volunteer whose worked on it. 

During the back end of the summer while focusing on Dogfish DB983233 repaint, watching the PalVan go through its final stages of the rebuild with fresh timbers and fresh Bauxite paint was a very exciting process to see, especially as we welcome another box van to our ever-expanding freight collection. 

The process of signwriting this particular wagon is rather similar to my previous exploits with our other box vans, the wagon number and 12T weight lettering reside to the far left-hand door while PalVan resides on the right-hand door, along with to the far right the XP, WB of 10’-00” and 8-11 UIC running number, which conformed to the above requirements of a wheelbase of ten ft or above in BR days.

Once the signwriting was completed I had the final tasks of adding small details like a white topcoat to the lamp brackets, fresh black gloss to the bottom end and buffers of each side, and finally fresh vacuum hoses. 

After completing all the painting of the wagon, the final piece of the puzzle is to perform a fitness to run test with our CME Barrie Papworth and after a satisfactory test of the brakes and a few test runs the wagon was given the green light to enter traffic at the railway.

It’ll be used throughout 2022 and beyond for future freight demonstrations and photo charters along the picturesque Mendip hills of the Somerset & Dorset Railway.




Dogfish - displaying the finished lettering.
Matthew Harris

23rd Oct 2021 - Meldon Dogfish returns to S&D

During the warmer months of 2021 one of our resident Dogfish wagons has received a well-deserved cosmetic overhaul. B983233 was chosen first in the queue as it’s currently the permanent way gang's most regularly used ballast wagon during any related track maintenance work, after a good few years of service, Matthew thought it was time these vital wagons deserved a bit of TLC and a new guise at the S&D.

We caught up with Matthew on how this project unfolded over the latter stages of the summer of 2021. 

“When myself and members of the trust sat down and spoke about giving our dogfish wagons a well-deserved repaint I was very excited as I’ve had experience working on the more traditional box-shaped wagons and carriages.  This was nothing like,  with a dogfish or catfish wagon you’ve got lots of sides but also nooks and crannies to get into to repair and repaint. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 challenges affecting our heritage community I decided to embark on this project solo, in the end, it was a great and rewarding experience in challenging circumstances. 

When the wagon arrived from the engineers siding it was in desperate need of a wash and clean down, so one rather hot June afternoon was spent removing lots of green vegetation that had accumulated during the autumn months from all sides of the wagon. 

After a quick keying in from all sides,  nooks and crannies included fresh black gloss paint could once again don on all the metalwork for the first time in many years. Other detailing in white and yellow paint was applied to all hand brake handles, turning wheels on the footplate and handrails which operate the hopper doors to allow the ballast to be evenly dispersed onto the tracks beneath the wagon and lastly not forgetting those ever-important axle boxes in yellow paint, this allows myself and others to see clearly if the boxes are running hot as the paint would start to blister and crack from the heat.

After three months painting the sides, bottom end, footplate, and inside motion it was time to give B983233 its final details of lettering and numbering. With guidance from our Trust chairman Stephen Lacey and CME Barrie Papworth it was agreed to give the wagon an identity similar to most southern-based dogfish, this would have been Meldon Quarry, near Okehampton in Devon. 

With signwriting guides from British Railways practically non-existent these days I had to refer to photographs of dogfish wagons that had been fresh out of the paint shop at Westbury yard in Wiltshire from 1950. This allowed me to determine the sizing and positioning the best I could, upon completion, I was happy with the final results and will give its sister B992897 a much smoother ride when those final stages of signwriting await it in 2022.” 

BR Dogfish B983233 will now resume being a vital asset to our engineering train with our permanent way gang, while occasionally having a break from engineering duties with freight demonstrations and photo charters for many years to come.