Rapido Trains UK is to produce one of Britain’s most enigmatic railway wagons, an inadvertent film star whose history still remains a little cloudy.

The GWR allocated the code ‘Loriot’ to flat wagons designed to move earth moving and plant machinery. The first appeared in 1892 and a family look soon evolved, with the wagon’s deck angled upwards at each end to clear the axles.

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One new ‘Loriot’ was built in 1937. It was built to Diagram G39 and coded ‘Loriot Y’. But it didn’t look like the rest of the ‘Loriot’ family.

Originally, the GWR considered it to be an addition to its ‘Loriot W’ fleet. However, it was built from assembled ‘I’ beam girders rather than rolled beams, a feature first used on the ‘Crocodile’ bogie well wagons of 1908. Consequently, it was re-classified ‘Loriot Y’. A second ‘Loriot Y’ was built in 1939.

Image from the Pendon Museum Archive

Both were painted with instructions that, when empty, they must be returned to Swindon. They would have run over large areas of the GWR’s network, moving excavators and other plant, particularly during the Second World War.

However, records for these two vehicles are few and far between. No. 41989 found fame when it starred in The Titfield Thunderbolt, where it was pressed into service to carry Dan’s house. It is believed to have been scrapped not long after the filming in 1953.

Image from the Pendon Museum Archive.

Sister ‘Loriot Y’ No. 41990 fared better. It remained in revenue-earning service until at least 1990 at Radyr Engineers Yard. Eventually, as DW41990 (coded ‘ZXP’ on TOPS), it moved to Bescot from where it was condemned in 1994. Saved at the 11th hour, it moved to the Severn Valley Railway where it remains to this day.


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