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· Registered
15 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I could use some help here.

I have recently purchased some milk tankers (Lima) and a pair of Hornby LMS refrigerated milk vans.

My question is this.

What sort of consist would these have gone into? (ie Block train, Express Pass etc)

I have looked through my books and can find virtually no reference to milk transport at all except for one photo of an engine hauling four empty tanks through a station.

Your help would be most appreciated.


· Premium Member
2,740 Posts
Overnight express freight trains from the milk producing areas of Britain to the big cities. GWR milk trains arrived each morning at around 5am into London from Devon and Cornwall (for example) permitting fresh milk to be on the breakfast table or in the store at Sainsbury's. According to the Sainsbury's website they took pride in having the freshest milk on sale in London. Milk travelled better overnight as temperatures were cooler. It was also important that the train maintained a constant speed or else by the time the milk arrived at its destination it would have been churned into butter!

Milk trains would return home empty during the day but of course it would then be a stop go slow freight job and there could well be a few revenue earning parcel vans and freight vans added to the consist forming a mix freight train.

I suppose that because they mainly travelled overnight milk trains (like postal trains) were rarely seen by the public.

The refridgerated milk wagons were introduced to permit daytime running of milk trains.

Happy modelling

· Registered
4,548 Posts
There is a lengthy item in 'The Oxford Companion to British Railways History' about milk trafffic. The main points of interest are:
1) Milk was carried on the Liverpool and Manchester railway from 1832.
2) Farmers originally sent milk in their own churns and trading between them and the dairies took place in the goods depots.
3) Wholesalers such as Express Dairy developed in the 1860s and took over the supply of churns and arrangements for collection and return.
4) Trains were run twice daily specifically for carrying milk from the 1890s onward.
5)As the traffic developed bottling plants were set up on the then fringes of London, eg at Cricklewood.
6) Milk was pre-cooled before being loaded on the trains to help preserve it.
7) Milk tanks came in around 1927; a standardised 6-wheel tanker was agreed on in 1933 with either a glass-lined tank or a stainless-steel tank.
8) After the Milk Marketing Board came into existence, carriage by train was reduced and eventually stopped in 1980.

So there is quite a lot of scope for running 'Milk Trains'.
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