The Pooley and the Toad

It sounds like the title of a children’s book, doesn’t it?

As noted in yesterday’s post about goods wagons, I had a couple of models that still needed some attention. Today, I address that, putting the finishing touches on a pair of 7mm scale kits of interesting 19th century Great Western Railway vehicles.


The Pooley Tool Van

A mobile workshop for maintaining weigh scales

The GWR had scales across its system, and employed a small fleet of Pooley vans as specialized workshops on wheels to maintain those important devices. The prototype info that came with this Walsall Model Industries kit notes seven Pooleys (Diagram CC2), built between February 1893 and July 1906.

The van is fitted with six windows, a pair of skylights, and a pair of ceiling-mounted oil lamps to provide ample illumination to workers. These windows, plus the profusion of script lettering, drew me to this kit. Not only is it distinctive, but it’ll add some interesting moves to a layout: I imagine the Pooley van would be dropped at the far end of a track to keep it out of the way while its crew calibrates the scale in the goods yard.

In a slightly different configuration, the Pooley van was also used as a mobile workshop for those who maintained the signals on the GWR, so at some point I’ll likely get another kit to create a signal van.


The 10 Ton Toad (Brake Van)

An early example of a ubiquitous GWR “caboose”

The GWR had a number of classes and sizes of brake vans (telegraph code “Toad”) and there are several excellent models available. But I was attracted by the cross-bracing on this particular model – another photo-etched brass kit from Walsall Model Industries. Most of the other examples I’ve seen have smooth sides. The prototypes for this kit were all built between 1886 and 1905, which also suits my chosen time frame nicely.

This kit was fairly straightforward to build but was still quite a challenge due to the sheer number of parts involved. For example, the bracing is all flat etches that must be folded and then fitted into appropriate slots on the body. The same goes for the window frames.

As suggested in the kit’s instructions, I made the roof removable, which allowed me to add real glass to the windows and which will make it easier to add a crew member to the verandah. (I have a suitable figure on order from Modelu and it’ll go to the top of my “to-do” list when it arrives.)


These kits were both challenging yet fun, and I’m very pleased with how they turned out. And they were a nice change from building multiple copies of standard goods wagon designs!

An end-on view of the Pooley and the Toad. I like the variety of proportions, roof profiles, and surface finishes to be found in this early equipment.

Published by Trevor

Lifelong model railway enthusiast and retired amateur shepherd who trained a border collie to work sheep. Professional writer and editor, with some podcasting and Internet TV presenting work thrown in for good measure.

6 thoughts on “The Pooley and the Toad

  1. Excellent bits and bobs the last couple days. While I prefer the LNER I’m still interested on hearing about all sorts of equipment the railways used. Keep the stories coming – and let’s see your ideas for the layout plan once you have time. (A Texan modeling the Framlingham Branch circa 1949 in 4mm.)

    Liked by 1 person

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