A cattle truck and provender wagon

I’ve reached a rare milestone in my hobby journey: I have finished building all of my kits.

Okay – let me qualify that: All of my kits for one scale / gauge / era / interest in the hobby – namely, the Great Western Railway in 7mm / British 0 scale. The last of my in-stock kits were these two – both from Walsall Model Industries.

GWR 38101

A rare cattle truck – and a neat kit.

The prototype for this cattle truck was a one-off experiment by the GWR – a modification of the railway’s ubiquitous “Iron Mink” goods van. According to the kit manufacturer, it was built in March 1888 and was condemned in March 1935. I’m not sure why the experiment was deemed a failure.

There’s a common piece of wisdom in the hobby that we should model the typical. Since the prototype was unique, this definitely qualifies as a novelty – but I do like livestock equipment and I thought the kit would be a fun challenge to build. It was, and I’m glad I did it. To further draw attention to it, I painted it in the early “red” scheme that the GWR applied to its goods wagons.

GWR 3700

A purpose-built provender wagon.

Whether they moved individual wagons into position for loading or unloading in a goods yard, or hauled a cart to collect and deliver packages in town, the GWR employed a lot of horses. And all of those horses needed to be fed and stabled.

Hay and bedding straw is bulky but lightweight, and hauling it in a regular open wagon was difficult and inefficient. To address this, the GWR designed special provdender wagons – high-sided open vehicles – and built a dozen examples in two lots. This model represents a batch of six built in 1903. Compared to standard opens it’s huge. It even hulks over a standard enclosed goods van.

With these two models, I’ve now finished an impressive (for me) batch of rolling stock: 17 Walsall brass kits plus a plastic cattle truck from Slaters, all in less than six months. These wagons join the four Slaters passenger cars I built in 2019 to give my GWR steam engines something to pull.

So what’s next?

Already, I have more 7mm kits on the way: Earlier this year I placed an order with POWsides for some more typical cattle trucks in brass and some preprinted Private Owner open wagons based on plastic Slaters models. I understand POWsides had some issues earlier this year but are now working through their backorders and look forward to receiving those. I also foresee ordering more Slaters passenger equipment at some point.

Meantime, I continue to think about what sort of layout I’ll build for this fleet – and as previously noted, I’ve returned to my S scale Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway freight motor project. Building these GWR kits improved my soldering skills, which is definitely helping with those freight motors.

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.

8 thoughts on “A cattle truck and provender wagon

  1. Ditto on seeing your ideas for a layout for your 7mm GWR. I imagine it would have to be fairly small for “O”.

    The provender wagon is what caught my eye. I had never heard of such a unique wagon. Never have I seen a photo or description of one, at least not for the LNER. And the LNER did employ horses for at least shunting in the final years of steam as Framlingham did have a stable for their upkeep.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I scratchbuilt a GWR cattle wagon a couple of years ago and in researching it discovered that the GWR had, for a while, three different size wagons. The length of the car was determined based on the amount of cattle to be shipped. The GWR realized that this was a silly idea and instead went with one size car with suitable dividers on the inside to segregate it into smaller interior dimensions if the load required this (apparently, you couldn’t put only a few cattle in a large car or they would get injured and knocked over. You had to put up dividers to make the enclosure smaller for them).

    Perhaps this design was cancelled because it was too small, or the interior dividers didn’t work well with this design?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a Slater’s kit that includes the divider plus markings on the car side to show where to place it for Small Medium or Large shipments. But the railway also had many, many wood-sides cattle trucks of the same size as this one. They – like this one – were only suitable for small loads and did not have dividers.


  3. Looking at the cattle wagon a couple of thoughts on its lack of success. First of all it is very open on the top half of the side and would not offer much protection from the weather or flying debris. The other is that it might have cost significantly more than a traditional wood bodied car.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The look and details of these kits are so realistic. Also your commentary on the models is very interesting.
    Hope we see a layout in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

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