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The GWR’s open wagons evolved from simple, archaic one-plankers to this more contemporary looking four-plank design in just 16 years. The number of body planks increased, sprung buffers replaced wooden dumb buffers and, in 1886, the steel underframes from the new ‘Iron Mink’ were also used under a new four-plank, 10 ton capacity body.
The GWR built thousands and thousands of four-planks with either single-sided lever brakes or DCI brakes (with minor detail differences) until a fifth plank was added to the design in 1902. In 1927, the Board or Trade ‘Either Side’ brake regulations came into force and resulted in over 18,700 single-sided four-plankers being given an additional lever brake and shoe. These wagons finally appeared in the diagram book as Dia. O21.
Despite being built in huge numbers, these wagons remained in the shadows for all their lives. They kept the railway moving but never grabbed the headlines and it’s difficult to track when they finally disappeared from the network.
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