I have just finished the construction of the Dapol 20T class B tanker
with Esso markings (Kit C-36). For a kit that has been around for so
many years, I was surprised about the basic quality of the model. I
know wonder how the real thing was used. I expect it to have been used
in fixed traffic flows from an Esso refinery (which one? where?) to
fuel depots around the country. Is that true?
They might have run as a single tanker, for example delivering fuel oil to a
factory. Class B (black tank on a black chassis) wagons carried less
flammable liquids, I am pretty sure boiler fuel falls into that category. Up
to the 1960s the oil traffic was all piecemeal, block trains from refineries
were split up and individual tanks and short rakes were added to standard
goods trains for delivery. BR then renegociated the arrangements, leading to
an increase in block train working and a move toward larger tankers (the
Dapol tank design was replaced by the larger type that had to have its
ladders on the end as the tank was nearly as big as the loading gauge, bogie
tankers came in at the same time. Initially all vacuum braked, air brakes
came later (much to the annoyance of the oil companies who owned much of the
I can't be certain if they were the same type of tank, or even if they were
Esso tanks, but...
Certainly in the late 80s and early 90s you could always find one or more 4
wheel tank wagons parked up in the road alongside platform 5 at Portsmouth
Harbour station. They were there to serve as the fuel supply for the
steamers (and later catamarans) plying to Ryde I.O.W. and appear to have
been swapped over on an "as required" basis. Presumably they were staged to
Fratton and then brought down by an 08 when one of the tanks at the Harbour
was empty and needed replacement.
That's the run that springs to mind most readily; not sure about the
actual route it took, but do recall reading that for a while it used
the old DN&S route through Winchester Chesil. Presumably, regardless of
route being via Chesil or the ex-LSW main line through Winchester City,
it then ran to Brum via Oxford, Worcester and the Lickey Incline, as
I've seen a pic in an old (mid-60s) "Modern Railways" of a pair of
Cromptons on an Esso block train at Shrub Hill.
Incidentally, the only 9Fs to be allocated to the SR (at Eastleigh
shed) were sent there specifically to deal with Esso traffic from
The design of 4-wheel tank mentioned by Mike Smith, which superseded
that on which the Airfix/Dapol kit's based, is/was available from
Hornby in 00 and doesn't need too much work for such an old model apart
from the obvious errors (e.g. brake blocks not aligned with wheel
tyres). The tank's moulded in two halves, so the main thing is, I
guess, to hide the annoying join line with Miliput or similar. N-gauge
fans can plump for a Peco model of the same prototype - again, not a
bad model for its age.
Curious that it went via Worcester, as it would have seemed more logical for
it to continue towards Birmingham at Oxford, taking the line from the GW
line towards the Camp Hill avoiding line, and then continuing towards Derby
. The ESSO terminal is/was between the British Steel Bromford Tube Works and
Fort Dunlop, next to the M6 flyover. Although lighter products have been
delivered by pipeline for many years, the terminal received (and possibly
still does) bitumen from Fawley.
The 35t GLW tank design, though displaced fairly soon by the 45t 'Monobloc'
design (which offered almost 10t extra capacity for less than 5t additional
tare), continued in service for many years. The oil industry continued to
use them for bitumen and lubricating oil traffic into the late 1970s, whilst
Fisons used a version for conveying chemicals to and from their plant at
Avonmouth and United Mollasses used them to convey molasses country-wide.
Even after that, they were not completely to disappear, as BR used the
chassis for 150 MTV stone wagons in the mid-1970s. The last of these
soldiered on in the engineer's fleet until the end of the 1990s.
The 35t GLW wagon's successors on the Bromford Bridge run were no less
innovative. Some of the 45t GLW ones featured shorter buffers and special
couplings within the rake, to allow longer trains, whilst the
Metropolitan-Cammell works (only a few hundred yards away) was to start
building 100t bogie tanks by 1966, some of which were to be used on this
traffic. These would offer an even greater ratio of load to tare.
On the modelling front, Bachmann have issued a model of the 'Monobloc' tank,
which is much superior to the Hornby one, with a less-visible seam and
brakeshoes in line with the wheels.
Finding out which 9Fs were allocated to Eastleigh is probably not too
difficult (unless anyone here happens to have this info at their fingertips)
But does anyone know what other routes they ran and approximate length of
(who is wondering whether a block oil train hauled by a 9F might one day run
Train length was about 40 wagons, I believe. A quick glance for other ESSO
terminals still extant in the 1970s found Cattewater (Plymouth), Flax
Bourton (Bristol area), Reading Central, Purfleet, Shrewsbury (Abbey
Foregate) and Cambridge. These are within what one might term the 'catchment
area' for Fawley, though some might have received their supplies from
Herbranston Refinery, near Milford Haven. Other places that might have
received are the various large industrial users (such as Austin at
Longbridge or Morris Motors at Cowley), airports/RAF bases (Stansted) and
the various third-party terminals for companies like Cory, Hartwells and
Charrington. I believe the oil trains were worked by various large tank
locos on the branch itself, having seen photos of SR 2-6-4ts as well as the
various ex-LMS/BR types. Don't forget to have an open wagon or two at either
end of the train as barrier wagons.