Watercress Line

Wickham Trolley Restoration Project

Wickham Trolleys were originally developed as engineering personnel carriers by D. Wickham and Co. Limited and manufactured at their factory in Ware, Hertfordshire. They were first introduced in 1948 and manufacturing continued up to 1990. There were approximately 12,000 made of various versions. They were predominantly used on British Railways to carry out track inspections and to transport Permanent Way gangs and their equipment around the network, and were also employed by the MOD between 1948 and 1960.

On the Mid Hants Railway the Permanent Way and Signal Engineering departments are the main users of two Type 18A Mk.V1 Trolleys, providing the transport to undertake track and signal maintenance along the line when there are no service trains running. As such, they are very valuable pieces of the rolling stock. The Wickham’s can be coupled up to a trailer, allowing sleepers, tools and equipment to be transported to the relevant work sites.

The Project

The Railways Wickham Trolleys have now come to a point in their life where major restoration is needed. The plan is over the next two years to completely restore them, but one at a time to allow the other to remain in service. This will include a new roof, outer supporting frames, front and rear cladding panels, side curtains, a complete engine service, new wiring, and replacement of fittings such as the seat panels and oak floor boards in the interior. As much as possible of the original parts will be re-used.

The majority of the work is being undertaken by volunteers of the Saturday Permanent Way department. The only work to be carried out outside the Railway will be the cutting of the sheet cladding panels and the manufacture of the side curtains. Parts are be sourced with assistance from groups such as The Railway Trolley Trust and local companies.

The objective is to out shop them in a BR green which is more in keeping with the heritage railway context. They will have yellow and black warning stripes on the end panels, which will also feature replica British Railways totem and Wickham of Ware transfers.

The proposed colour scheme

Good progress on the project has been made at the time of writing. We removed the wasted sheet metal cladding panels from the first Trolley, which revealed that the end frame structures and roof edge structure, which had suffered from 40+ years of wastage needed to be replaced. The roof hoops however appear to be sound apart from needing a good clean, which is good news.

The structural framework and radiator have been removed, giving clear access to the engine, parts of which have been dismantled for cleaning. The engine will be serviced with new belts, filters and oil. The prop shaft has been removed and has been refurbished.

It was decided that the wiring would need to be completely replaced, with a new fuse box and blade switches. The control panel has been refurbished, in which the original gauges have been cleaned, repaired and calibrated.

The next part of the restoration was to make the new end frames and roof edge frame. These have now been completed and await painting before re-assembly on the vehicle chassis, followed by the application of the new metal sheet cladding and painting.

The Wickham and British Railways totems will be centred over the top of the windows. The wiring and engine service will be the next task, then leaving the oak flooring, bench seats and side curtains to complete the restoration. We are hoping to finish this by early/mid 2019, then we start the process all over again on the second Wickham.

The two Mid Hants Wickham Trolleys details are:

Wickham 1

Type 18A Mk VI

Works No. 10707

Engine – Ford 2712E No. S910166

Shipped from Wickhams – 18 June 1974

Delivered to BR (SR) Stewarts Lane, Battersea

Running Numbers – 68075 & DB965991

Wickham 2

Type 18A Mk VI Heavy Duty Gang Trolley

Works No. 10839

Engine – Ford 2712E No. S973302

Shipped from Wickhams – 20 November 1975

Delivered to BR (SR), Civil Engineers, Stewarts Lane, Battersea

Running Numbers – 68082 & DB966031

As a group, the Saturday gang are trying to raise as much of the required funds as possible to avoid pressuring MHR resources, and any donations will be very welcome to support our dedicated and enthusiastic team. You can find the “Mydonate” link on Watercress Line website under “Support us” and click the “Watercress Wickhams” link or on Facebook and search for “Watercress Wickhams”

The “Mydonate” webdress is: https://mydonate.bt.com/events/wickhams/471872

By Corina Silk

Photo gallery