The type 27A Wickham Trolley is a railway personnel carrier. British Rail used them to transport small groups of engineers to inspect railway lines. Over 600 type 27A Mk3 were built from nationalization of the railways in 1948 until around 1990 . They were used extensively over the whole of the British Railways network. Some also hauled four-wheel trailers which carried tools and equipment.
Delivery of B40W
On 20th February 2017, Wickham Trolley B40W was delivered to its new home at Midsomer Norton station. It had previously been stored alongside B41W at a private site by its previous owner. As you can see from the photos below it is now in a dismantled state. The previous owner is restoring B41W and was able to sell his second one to the S&DJR. The vehicle also lacks an engine, gearbox and forward reverse box.
The history of B40W is know thanks to Jonathan Flood, who runs the Wickham of Ware group on Facebook, Flicker and Yahoo. D Wickham & Co of Ware built B40W to order number 618682 and works number 7504. This type 27A Mk3 railway gangers’ trolley was originally powered by a Ford 10hp industrial engine. She was delivered to Oxford on BR’s Western Region on 9th October 1956 and given the fleet number B40W. She was probably painted in BR maroon with a grey look roof. Later, she was allocated to Afon Wen Borth Machynlleth and Aberystwyth. In August 1986, she was sold by British Railways from Bangor to the narrow gauge railway center of North Wales. Unfortunately, this center closed about 20 years ago. Over her working life, she was renumbered from B40W to PWN4301 then TR18 and latterly 68055.
Somerset and Dorset Railway
The Somerset and Dorset railway had several type 27A trolleys including B11W which was allocated to Midsomer Norton in 1950’s.
B31W was also used at Shepton Mallet in 1964.
After the closure of the Somerset and Dorset railway, B29W remained on a very small isolated piece of track on what was the center road. This center road was used extensively when the line was operational to stable steam locomotives used for banking trains up the Bath line to Masbury summit. The Wickham Trolley remained even after all the track had been lifted. B29W was the last rail born vehicle to leave Evercreech Junction and was finally removed by lorry in Summer 1968.
[easyazon_link identifier=”B000OWDJMA” locale=”UK” tag=”railway02-21″]Jeffrey Greyer’s book ‘Sabotaged and Defeated: Last Rites on the Somerset and Dorset’ [/easyazon_link]shows a picture of B29W in 1968 with it seemingly missing one set of wheels. It was removed later that year in August, by road. As far as I know, this trolley no longer exists.
The first Wickham Trolley to return to the Somerset and Dorset was TP57P – a type 17A trolley which has now gone to the Shillingstone Railway Project. This trolley was extensively restored on site and is now operational.
Wickham Trolley Fame!
A Wickham Trolley has even starred in the movies. Type 27A Mk3 Wickham Trolley WD9033 owned by the Ministry of Defense was used on the Longmoor Military Railway near Liss. In 1965, it featured in the film [easyazon_link identifier=”B00006L9YW” locale=”UK” tag=”railway02-21″]Runaway Railway starring Ronnie Barker[/easyazon_link] and in the 1966 film[easyazon_link identifier=”B000KRMZOC” locale=”UK” tag=”railway02-21″] The Great St Trinian’s Railway Robbery[/easyazon_link]. Fortunately this vehicle still survives at the Chasewater Railway, Brownhills where it is currently being restored.
The Future of B40W
At Midsomer Norton, we look forward to the time when we will be able to operate our Wickham Trolley on the famous route of the S&D railway. The presence of the Wickham Trolley will contribute another piece in the recreation of this historic line for everyone to enjoy. Come and see us in the future and who knows, you too may get the opportunity to take a ride.
The history of these remarkable Wickham Trolleys shall go on!
The Wickham Trolley was retsored to full working order by Spring 2019!
Brian Racher says
I have for a number of years been a volunteer with the Civil Engineering Department of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. With a bus engineering background, I have carried out many repairs and services on their original Wickham – it is a pleasure to work on, being such a simple beast, and is a valuable workhorse. Parts for the Ford sidevalve engine are relatively easy to come by – if you know where to look! Also held are some original drawings and diagrams, but it’s rare they have to be refered to. A second Wickham has recently been aquired, and arrived as a totaly stripped but complete kit of parts. This is slowly being reconstructed to as near “new” condition as possible to ensure a long life, and when complete will allow old faithfull to receive the same treatment. For me this is ideal, as I’m not really one for going out track-side and cutting grass! Also on the fleet is a Permaquip motor trolley, aquired from NSE, and another has recently arrived which is in need of major work. Enough to keep us going for quite a while I think. If any information is needed concerning the Wickham mechanicals, do not hesitate to contact me, and I will try to assist where possible.
Hi Brian thank you for this update on what’s going on Wickham Trolley wise at the IoW Steam railway. Has to be one of my favourite heritage railways. Thank you for your offer of help with information as well. Keep in touch. Best wishes Barrie
Would you or anyone happen to know if you or anyone has a Wickham motor trolley for sale please thank you I can be contacted on 07789671907 thanks loydd
Paul Sheridan says
I am a volunteer on the derwent valley light railway and I have volunteered to get their wickham trolley engine running.
I am now trying to obtain maintenance manuals for the 1325 SV dvt engine and solex carb.
Please can you help with any information; advice how to maintain the engine, set up the magneto, timing, where can I obtain spares. The magneto has been removed by a previous volunteer and I have nothing to go on. I suspect the engine needs a de-coke again any information with removing the engine from the trolley would be helpful.
Hi Paul, I don’t have this manual but there is a Facebook page dedicated to Wickham of Ware. Jonathan Flood who administers this is very helpful and he will I am sure assist in some way. Kind regards Barrie
Al Humphries says
The Wickham trolley B40W is now 95% restored ,just waiting for the brakes to be located and fitted .The Reliant engine now running and new clutch assy fitted .Hope to have it running on the S&D railway within the next few months .Its been a great project and i am enjoying working on it .