The Brake Van provided accommodation for the Goods Guard. Until the late 1950s, most freight trains in Britain had loose "3-link" couplings and no continuous brake. In those circumstances, the Guard had a vital job to do to provide braking power at the rear of the train using his van's handbrake. Wagon couplings were prone to breakage, in which event the Guard could safely bring the rear part of a divided train to a stop.
On local "pick-up" freight work, the Guard had important jobs to do in maintaining the train's manifest, so ensuring that goods were collected and delivered as appropriate, and in creating the documentation which enabled the railway company to raise invoices for the traffic carried. In addition, Guards were responsible for shunting wagons on and off the train in local goods yards.
The Goods Guard worked in difficult conditions. By night and day, his van tugged and pitched at the end of loose coupled freight trains. He could obtain coal for the van stove from the locomotive, and his paraffin handlamp provided light so that he could keep up his log and commercial papers as required. Most goods yards were inadequately lit and were dangerous to work at night.
See also Civil Engineer's Wagons page
|437||20 ton Brake Van, Caledonian Railway||1920|
|731916||20 ton Brake Van, London Midland & Scottish Railway||1945|
|B951148||20 ton Brake Van, British Railways||1951|