What’s in the Shops: Introducing the Warwell

This month Nigel Burkin reviews Hattons Models’ OO gauge Warwell.

Well wagons were constructed for the transport of freight that would foul the loading gauge if loaded on regular flat wagons. The well was located between the bogies resulting in a loading deck fixed as low to the running rail as possible.

Wagons retained for use by the MoD were modernised with GPS bogies replacing the original diamond-frame design together with air brakes.

Typical loads for well wagons included large engineering assemblies such as boilers and transformers. Vehicles are also a common load for well wagons today, including military vehicles and civil engineering machinery, usually destined for work sites on the railways.

Large military vehicles and equipment were transported on specialised well wagons called Warwell, which were introduced during the Second World War for the transportation of Sherman tanks built by the Americans and shipped to the UK in preparation for the Normandy landings.

The wagons featured a lowered floor between diamond-frame bogies, which allowed the large tanks to be moved within the restricted railway loading gauge in the UK. The wagons were strengthened to accommodate the heavy load and fitted with screw jacks to stabilise the wagon during loading.

A total of 200 were ordered by the Ministry of Supply and constructed by three manufacturers: Gloucester Carriage & Wagon built 100 wagons; Head Wrightson assembled 75 while the remainder were built by the Southern Railway.

The underside of the modern GPS bogie with brake linkages and detail. The bogies are secured to the model with neat cross-head screws and rotate freely in the mounting.

The design was a success and continued to be used by the MoD into the Privatisation era with around 50 remaining in traffic. The surviving Warwell wagons were significantly upgraded with new bogies, air brakes and safety enhancements.

Adaptations were made including improved securing points to accommodate different vehicles including special cradles to load ‘warrior carriers’. A number have been preserved and are often used to move equipment around heritage railway sites including boilers from locomotives undergoing restoration.

For the full article, see October’s edition of Modelling – available now!

For a complete list of stockists and how to get your copy, visit: www.railwaymagazinemodelling.co.uk/distributors