Copyright © 2004-2021
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The small Drewry railcar
Col. Stephens was a pioneer of petrol traction. The WC&PR was the first of his railways to introduce railcars. The first was bought new in 1921 from the Drewry Car Co Ltd to Col Stephens’ specification
works no 1252. It was powered by a water-cooled 35 hp 4 cylinder Baguley petrol engine with 3 speed gearbox giving it a maximum speed of 25 mph. It seated 30 with 12 standing, and due to low running costs was relatively profitable. A whistle was fitted which was powered by the exhaust. Luggage could be stored on the roof! The railcar height was lower than normal at 8’ 3”. Livery was dark green with yellow lining. The garter bearing the company’s name was replaced in the 1930s by the initials WC&PR.
Originally the petrol tank was fitted inside the railcar together with spare cans of petrol. As smoking was then common, it was later realised that this was a hazard and a cylindrical horizontal petrol tank was fitted at one end above the buffer beam.
A light four-wheel wagon built by Cranes was bought in 1925 for the railcar to carry extra luggage or milk churns.
Photo reproduced with permission from Weston-super-Mare Library.
The Drewry Trailer
A matching unpowered trailer seating 24 was bought in 1923 from Drewry (works No 1323). Livery was as above, dark green with yellow lining. The trailer was the same height as the small railcar but without the roof luggage storage. The trailer originally had waterproof curtains rather than glazing.
Photo reproduced with permission from The Weston, Clevedon & Portishead Railway by Peter Strange published by Twelveheads Press.
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Drewry railcar No 5
Not the fifth railcar but the only other one! This larger Drewry railcar was bought second-hand in 1934 (built 1928 - works No 1650) from the Southern Railway (where the number 5 originated), and was also 4-wheeled and petrol-engined. Before purchase by the WC&PR its original 50 hp engine had been replaced by a Parsons 64 hp one. There were separate passenger and luggage compartments. There were five rows of two by two seats with a central gangway for 20 passengers and a transverse bench seat seating six behind the driver’s partition. The transverse seat backs could be tilted to face the direction of travel. (It originally had 24 transverse seats but four were removed by the SR to give increased luggage capacity). Seats were upholstered in green patterned cloth.
It had a 3 speed gearbox and a max speed of 25 mph. There was a separate driver’s compartment and electric headlight at each end. Livery was left in lined SR dark olive green, though in the final years was painted unlined mid green. After line closure this railcar was moved to Swindon and ended up as a pavilion at a girl’s school there.
Christopher Redwood’s book ‘The Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Railway’ has scale drawings of this railcar for modelling. See Books page.
Photo reproduced with permission from Old Portishead by John Macleay published by Stenlake Publishing