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Harbury Cement Works: misc_hcw174

A Private Owner covered wagon belonging to Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers in 1948

A Private Owner (PO) covered wagon belonging to Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers (APCM) was photographed in 1948. It has a steel body and underframe with manually operated Morton brakegear on both sides. This wagon was very similar to the Great Western Railway Iron Minks, but would have been manufactured by an independent railway wagon builder such as the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company Ltd. All PO Wagons had to be inspected and registered by a Railway Company before being deemed suitable to travel on the main line. The registration details were carried on an iron plate fixed to the solebar, while a second plate carried the manufacturer’s name and address and the wagon’s works serial number.

The use of PO wagons allowed companies to advertise their products and in addition to APCM’s ‘Blue Circle’ brand name for their standard Portland cement product, APCM also publicised their ‘Ferrocrete’ brand name. A finer ground Portland cement resulted in higher early strength properties. This was aimed at the structural civil engineering market where reduced curing times and the ability to maintain production in cold weather was important. As well as advertising, wagon No262 has a number of painted markings typical of PO wagons. On the extreme bottom left was the empty wagon’s weight (Tare). In this case the weight was 7 tons, 0 hundred weight, 0 pounds. Above this, the double C motif stood for commuted charge, this indicated that the wagon owner had paid an annual charge for this wagon to be shunted and stored when necessary on railway sidings. When introduced in 1926, the annual CC charge per wagon was one shilling. This replaced two separate charges; an annual charge for shunting (one shilling) and a daily siding rental (six pence). Adjacent, on the other side of the label holder is a yellow five pointed star. This symbol was introduced in 1933 to indicate that the wagon’s owner had paid a charge for it to be returned empty to a specified address. In this case the wagon was marked ‘Empty to Southam Road, Harbury, GWRy’ (above the 10 ton load limit on the bottom of the panel to the right of the door). On the end panel is the name and address of the wagon’s owners.

One financial advantage of using PO wagons was the lower mileage rates. As an example, in the Birmingham Railway Rates Book of 1936 the following rates applied to specified goods travelling to Birmingham from Southam Road and Harbury Station:
Packed Portland Cement or Lime (minimum load of 4 Tons), carried at Owners Risk from Private Siding to Station:
In Owners wagon – 4 shillings / 9 pence
In Company wagon – 5 shillings / 5 pence
Both these were official ‘exceptional rates’ which had had to be agreed with the Railway Commissioners for these products at this location, because they were less than the standard commodity class rate charges. Railway Companies were legally obliged not to give any undue preference in favour of or against any trader, so any reduced rates had to be approved, published and be available to any trader who wished to transport the specified goods from that location. It was estimated that 80% of all goods carried on the railway were under exception rates. At Southam Road and Harbury Station there was also a special reduced rate for Empty Cement Bags (1 ton per truck) of 4 shillings / 9 pence, although this is identified as a temporary rate expiring on 30th June 1936.

APCM had a large fleet of covered wagons and others can be seen at:
Hatton North - 'gwrhj2260'
Five Ways Station – 'mrf23'
Stratford Station Yard - 'gwrsa499a'

Robert Ferris