Great Western Railway Dean Era Coaches

Short Coaches
Between 1872 and 1903 the Great Western built 2728 4 and 6 wheeled coaches. Little has been written about GWR 4 & 6 wheel coaches and unfortunately there are a few errors in what has been written. There are approaching 200 individual designs, and it is my aim to use these pages to catalogue them so that modellers can make better models.

There were 120 designs that were catalogued by the GWR in the early 1900s and given diagrams.   There were a similar number of designs that did not receive diagrams; either because they did not survive until 1910 or there were only a few of them which somehow managed to evaded the cataloguers.   There were only about 50 original designs; all of the others were conversions.   A lot of the conversions involved creating or extending a luggage compartment   There were two types of conversions.   The earlier conversions were 'proper' conversions where any windows that were not required were panelled to make the coach look as if it was built that way.   Later conversions were 'bastard' conversions where unrequired windows were simply barred and door handles removed.

T31 (right) was a 'bastard' conversion from T49/T50. The only indication in the photo that it has been converted is the lack of the door handles and hinges on the compartment door nearest the luggage compartment.   From this angle it is not clear whether there is the normal arrangement of bars across the decommissioned compartment.

R Spratt collection

© Real Photos, V1879

T44 (left) was a proper conversion from T52. The nearer half of the coach has been completely panelled. The only tell-tale that is was not originally built this way is the slender panel just beside the side lamp.

I have been researching GWR coaches since the early 1990s. Most of what is contained in these pages comes from my original research that I have carried out at the National Railway Museum Library in York and at the Public Record Office in Kew. Where I have used other sources I will quote them and where there are other sources which differ with what I have discovered I will also state the other view.

T5 (a bastard conversion from either S18 or T8) and S16 at the head of a Metro rake at Wood End, Warks, ca1924. R.Spratt collection
Bogie Coaches
Similarly between 1874 and 1906 the Great Western built 2728 bogie coaches to Dean designs. Whilst more has been written about the bogie coaches, some modellers are still bewildered by the large number of similar designs.   It is easy to see why people get confused, you only have to compare diagrams E28, E32 & E33; three designs that can only be distuguished if you know the running number.

Unlike the shorter coaches I haven't specifically set out to research bogie coaches.   But what I have learnt whilst looking at other short coaches is included on a couple of pages here. It relies heavily upon the references below and very little original research.

© Knight 598
Coach Identification
If you have a photograph of a GWR short coach and you wish to identify it's design, use the Coach Identification where you answer a couple of simple questions about the coach and it will return either photographs or drawings of possible designs. If you cannot idenitify your coach, email me a copy and I'll try to help you.

I'm afraid that I haven't written a similar guide for bogie coaches, but I'm still happy to try and identify the design if you send me the photo.

If you are able to fill in any of the many gaps please do contact me.

To simplify things, the dimensions that are given on this website for Dean coach body widths and lengths are over the outside panels but not including the mouldings that were used to protect the panel joins. The mouldings were ⅜" deep making the overall dimensions ¾" bigger. Thus a coach that was 30' 0¾' long is written as 30' on this website.

For most Dean coaches above the waist the body side was vertical, so the width at the waist is actually from the waist to the underside of the cornice or gutter. The exception to this was coaches built to the Bay Window style.

One reference I must make is to an article by John Lewis in Model Railway Constructor annual 1981 "GWR Dean Period Coaches". This article enables the historian distinguish between the different phases of Dean's coaches and gives a logical name to each design. I have written a summary of the article here: The Lewis Classification of Dean Coaches.

Barry Scott placed a copy of his notes taken from the GWR Lot Registers, which are now held at York, in the files section of the GWR-Elist on Yahoo. Since the demise of the Yahoo groups it has been transferred over to I think you need to be a member of the group to access the spreadsheet which is in the files section. GWR Coach Lots This has been an invaluable source of information helping me fill in large gaps of information about bogie coaches.


© 2018 - Richard Spratt - all rights reserved
GWR Coaches -- -- Richard Spratt 2018 -