Designed in March 2018 and announced in January 2019, Hornby Hobbies duly released their 'New Van' in-time for Christmas.
Using the same underframe as the previous 'Road Vans', Mr Surrey Warner (carriage and wagon superintendent of the former London and South Western Railway (LSWR) from 1906) produced seventy-five brake vans between 1915 and 1921 carrying L&SWR numbers between 387-15208. The 'New Vans' were initially rated at 20T, until Grouping in 1923, at which time all but two (54949 and 54987) were uprated to 24T by adding scrap metal into pockets cast into the underframe. At the time of uprating, the original spoked wheels were changed to solid wheels. Allocated to Diagram 1543 under the Southern Railway (SR) the uprated vans were numbered in the SR system between 55001-55017 and 55019-55074. Withdrawal of the type commenced after nationalisation in 1957 and by 1961 just two remained, 55006 and 55037, which lasted until 1962 and 1963 respectively.
Hornby's new tooling has sought to cover many variations including buffer shanks*, lamp brackets and fix lamps, disc and spoked wheels, document holders as well as rivetted and welded duckets.
*Note that only some buffers were strengthened, resulting in variations between individual brake vans.
Priced at £24.99, six variations are available: -
- R6911 20T 'New Van' (L&SWR Brown) No 9646
- R6911A 20T 'New Van' (L&SWR Brown) No 5359
- R6913 24T Diagram 1543-'New Van' (SR Brown) No 55062
- R6913A 24T Diagram 1543-'New Van' (SR Brown) No 55009
- R6915 24T Diagram 1543-'New Van' (BR Grey) No S55040
- R6915A 24T Diagram 1543-'New Van' (BR Grey) No S55032
Whilst initial reflections of my example (R6915) are positive, it is pertinent to start with the criticism of the livery applied to R6911, R6911A, R6913 and R6913A and the use of a shade of brown far lighter than appropriate; an error apparent upon release of the decorated samples (September 2019).
Nonetheless, the model itself is made to a high standard and as already alluded to it is praiseworthy that variations between the L&SWR and SR versions have been considered. Perhaps the most noticeable are the fitted lamps present on the L&SWR iteration (pictured, above); on the SR and British Railways (BR) examples they are replaced with a solid plate and the addition of lamp irons.
Also of note is the inclusion of the sanding mechanism and pipes, the latter in wire form. Normally only found on locomotives, Hornby has found this was the best option to achieve the required finish.
The interior of Diagram 1543 is equally detailed with the handbrake and stove residing on planked flooring.
Despite the oversight in colour of the L&SWR and SR versions many will appreciate the addition of further pre-Grouping rolling stock to the ready-to-run market, especially at an RRP lower than Bachmann Europe's SR 'Pill Box'. Hopefully the 2020 Range Launch will bring with it a corrected version for those requiring LSWR and SR iterations.