The miscellaneous stock was a diverse collection of vehicles; many designed to convey specific merchandise and livestock but in practice frequently pressed into service to carry a wide variety of traffic. Any miscellaneous stock to hand was used to move seasonal item; in the renowned green pea specials run in the early years of the last century peas would be carried in horse boxes, cattle boxes, milk vans, open fish trucks and the various types of sundry van, supplemented by passenger brake vans and the cattle trucks from the wagon stock fitted with through brake pipes. Similarly, the fish specials would be composed of an imaginative range of types to supplement the stock of open fish trucks, including the full range of vans and even open carriages truck loaded with fish boxes, offering the ultimate in ventilation.
In all nearly 1600 vehicles were built between 1857 and 1920 specifically as miscellaneous stock and supplemented in later years by converted ambulance train carriages and redundant carriage stock. In addition several types were ingeniously adapted for other uses as traffic demands changed or a better design developed.
In appearance they varied widely; the pre 1880 vehicles were all utilitarian but efforts were then made to make external appearances more attractive. The GER made a practice of lettering up their stock according to the traffic they were intended to carry and a neat and uncluttered van designed to carry foodstuffs brought useful publicity. This approach waned in the early 1900’s and in most of the 6 wheeled stock economy in the use of materials was uppermost in mind. After 1915 virtually no new stock was built and all additions resulted from carriage stock conversions, certainly very economical but having the effect of increasing the overall age of the stock quite quickly.
After Grouping the nature of the traffic changed and there was an overall decline in the requirement for several of the types built by the GER. Although the LNER progressively replaced much of the outworn pre-Grouping carriage stock by direct replacement this was not the case with the miscellaneous stock and consequently during the 25 years of Grouping it built surprisingly few replacement vehicles.
Sources of Information
My carriage stock article includes information sources which are equally applicable to this article. The following material consulted is particular to the miscellaneous stock and may be seen as noted.
Miscellaneous Stock Register: National Railway Museum Reference E6/155L
This register was compiled at Stratford Works during 1908 and maintained until the mid 1950’s. It lists each item of stock in service in 1908 and all subsequent additions received until 1924. The information includes the running number, any subsequent renumbering, building date, order number, general arrangement drawing number, diagram number, accommodation or internal arrangement and details of any alterations, including lighting, brakes, etc. and withdrawal dates.
Miscellaneous Stock Diagram Book: National Railway Museum Reference DIAG/GER/1 (3 copies) and Essex Record Office D/Z/346/1994
The diagram book, prepared in 1910, consists of a series of small line diagrams of each stock type, measuring 8ins by 6ins, showing an outline side elevation and plan to a scale of 1/8 ins to a foot. Details are recorded of capacity, weight, brake type, lighting and steam heating where applicable, running numbers and general arrangement drawing number.