Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Derbyshire Carriage and Wagon Co: Working Memories

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Note: This is a sub-section of Derbyshire Carriage and Wagon Co


As a youth of 17 years of age in 1952, I was set to work in the work’s foremen’s office. It was, in fact, a large wooden hut with two coke stoves for heating. There were three foremen in the office and they were smokers, which I hated because they kept all windows shut and complained if I opened one. One foreman, Jack Oxley smoked a pipe, the others smoked cigarettes. Joe Tonge was one of the other foremen.

There were weekly visits by railway inspectors, who came to check the new and repaired wagons before they could be released onto the rail network. There were two inspectors, who seemed to take turns in coming to the works. If the inspectors found something not to their liking discussions would ensue between the foremen and the inspector. It was all amicable but of course the foreman would try to keep to a minimum any extra work the inspectors thought necessary.

Each railway inspector carried a wagon wheel profile gauge, as did our foremen, with which they would check the wagon wheels for correct profile. Wheels rims could be replaced by the Works or reprofiled on a huge lathe as necessary.

Derbyshire C and W Works manufactured between eighteen and twenty two steel wagons each week. I should know because my job was to log the wagon serial numbers in a book. I also logged the serial numbers of the wagons (mostly wooden) that were brought in from the rail system for repair. From memory, the number of wooden wagons repaired was of the order of ten to twelve. It was more variable than the numbers of the new steel wagons.

The brakes on the wagons were considered a very important aspect of the repairs. The inspectors insisted on wheels and brakes being first class.

The D.C. and W. Works could make new cast iron parts for the wagons and one of those items was the number plate which was affixed to the side of the wagon. I’m not sure how many parts they could cast but I believe they were able to produce grease boxes. I am a bit hazy on that one, though.

I was able to go around the factory frequently and see what was being done. I steered well clear of a huge ‘guillotine’ which cut thick steel sheets. It was frightening.

There were also people whose job was to paint the wagons. Light grey for the steel wagon. White for the lettering.

Another product of the factory was the pit tub. They produced a number of these small steel tubs with wheels each week. I had no dealings with that product, I just saw them as new waiting for delivery.

My time at Derbyshire Carriage and Wagon Works was only a matter of nine or ten months as I was called to go into the armed services, as were all young men at that time. I went into the RAF. I could have returned to the Works on demob but chose another career path instead.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 2021/06/17 TG