Courtaulds C378

At a glance:

Builder:Ulster Transport Authority (Duncrue Street Works)
Build date:1951
Original company:Courtaulds
Withdrawal date:1979
Final company:Northern Ireland Railways
Arrived at DCDR:1986
Current status:Stored
Current owner:DCDR

In 1951, the UTA built a fleet of four-plank open wagons for textile giant Courtaulds, who opened their Carrickfergus factory the same year. The factory was rail-connected, meeting the Larne line at Mount halt. It had a small internal railway system managed by two steam locomotives, named “Pamela” and “Wilfred”, which were unfortunately scrapped in 1968. Though owned by Courtaulds, the wagons spent most of their time being hauled by UTA locomotives between Mount and Larne Harbour where they were filled with coal to supply the factory with.

When Courtaulds closed its private sidings in 1967, the wagons naturally passed into the UTA’s hands, though the UTA quickly gave way to NIR the following year. With internal goods traffic having ceased in Northern Ireland in 1965, the wagons were employed in permanent way use throughout the 70s and 80s. Though some were kept in the original form, others, like C378, were modified for use on ballast trains. Their four-plank sides became two-plank, with distinctive ‘pyramid’ ends. This was to make it easier for men on the ground to shovel ballast or spoil into the wagon.

Our own C378 was last used around the late 1970s, and spent a few years in storage before we acquired it in 1986. Throughout the years at DCDR it has seen use in the Permanent Way team and on demonstration goods trains. In our early days before we had carriages, it was even used on a few special events – including our first passenger train – as a mobile bandstand! For now though, C378 is in storage in need of a complete overhaul.