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GWR Dia. AA20 ‘Toad’

It was required by law that all goods trains had to have a brake van at the rear and the Great Western Railway settled upon a design that was as recognisable as its locomotives. The first ‘van with the single ended veranda and large, enclosed body for the use of the guard appeared circa 1871 and variants based on this configuration continued to be built into the 1950s.

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The GWR allocated telegraphic codes to its goods vehicles and brake vans were dubbed ‘Toad’. Consequently, this name is how both railwaymen and enthusiasts referred to these vehicles.

Internally, the vans feature a desk, seating, storage lockers for equipment and a stove for keeping warm. Internal lighting was not provided. Sand boxes and sanders were fitted to both ends of the vans to aid with braking whilst the handbrake was fitted externally on the veranda along with the levers for operating the sanders. Full length footboards and handrails allowed the guard stand on the side of the vehicle during shunting operations.

The GWR allocated diagram numbers in the ‘AA’ series to 23 versions of post-1888 built ‘Toads’. Our model depicts the ‘AA20’, which was introduced in 1934.

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Our AA20 brake van has been designed using works drawings and includes a number of different optional parts to allow for variations within the design including different roof rain strips, different height footboards and different wheelsets. The model includes a full interior alongside a removable roof.

The requirement for brake vans ended in 1968 but that didn’t mean the end of the ‘Toads’. Many lasted into Departmental and even industrial use and a large number of ‘Toads’, including several ‘AA20s’, have been preserved.

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