Freight is the lifeline of railway and none of the British railway companies had a greater variety of traffic than the Great Western, reflected in its large number of wagon designs. The GWR was fortunate in having continuity in wagon design and practice before and after the 1923 Grouping, although it had the upheaval towards the end of the broad gauge in 1892 when amidst normal construction many convertible types built for the broad gauge were adapted for the standard gauge.
In this definitive history in text, photographs and drawings, the authors trace the design and development of GWR wagons from the 1870s to Nationalisation, and include much detail on construction liveries, dimensions, numbers and freight train operation and control.
The first part of the book discusses GWR freight train working and provides the key to the telegraphic code list of wagon types, including changes over the years which account for the variations in previously published lists, and the complete wagon diagram index, a most valuable source of information and forming the basic material for identifying every wagon. The second half describes wagon designs in detail, with 'identikit' diagrams to show as many variations as possible. The book is illustrated by over 160 photographs and 120 diagrams, reproduced mostly at the modelling scale of 4mm-1ft. The original parts, which not only included much previously unpublished material but also clarified conflicting information in other sources, were highly acclaimed as the standard reference works on the subject. This second edition, published as a single combined volume, has been enlarged to include GWR containers, and forms a valuable record of a most important aspect of railway working of the past.