The BOC tanks remembered

Local Freight flows remembered – The “BOC tanks”

The distinctive white “BOC tanks” were a familiar site most afternoons locally as a class 81-5 (roarer) normally returned the empties from Wembley to Widnes. Services began in late 1970 and at the time these trains were the first ompany based trains in the world to carry liquefied oxygen and nitrogen at cryogenic (low) temperatures of around minus 190 degrees C. The 60 foot long Glouester Wagon works bogie tanks were built with both inner and outer shells with powder insulation between them.

A fleet of 30 tankers worked the three prime flows from BOC’s Widnes plant (nr Ditton) to Broughton Lane (Sheffield), Wolverhampton (LL sidings to East of station) and our Wembley North flow. 

Passing times 1970’s early 80’s

6A50 MWTHO  0116 Widnes – North Wembley pass LB 0525-mo 0603, wtho..pass lb 0430/0510

arr north W 0601, up goods loop arr 0608, propel 0615, BOC sdgs 0625.

6F38 MWTHO – 1358 North Wembley pass leighton 1420 ish E950 tmgs, booked via Weedon 1509!

The up loaded tanks had to run ahead of the morning rush because of the complicated shunt at Wembley. Because the 2 BOC sidings were not wired a surplus ferry van or flat van was used as a barrier truck in shunting.

RM advises “it must of been some shunt to position those BOC tanks, the loop at Kenton where Sainsburys is today long gone, but the tanks would have backed off the up slow into the complex using number one ground frame. As no run round was possible the train loco would then run up to Wembley Central, use another ground frame to cross to the down slow, then run back to North Wembley and ground frame two would be opened to allow access to the north end. The tank train then being split and positioned on the two company sidings. The BOC terminal was served by two ground frames known as Wembley North No 1 gf (onto up slow) and No 2 (up slow/down slow) and quite a bit of shunting required to get the tanks onto the two company siding, the train having to be split. Part of the service line between these two ground frames still exits next to the overhead line neutral section

Note it was not possible to go from up slow straight into the siding and exit was to down slow only thanks to the interlocking.
Not the easiest locos to ‘shunt’ with AC locos and I mentioned memories of some sort of international ferry van used as  a barrier wagon.
Departures heading north ok but the two portions of tank wagons needed to be shunted together prior to departure”.

From the June 1988 Sectional Appendix

The empties returned North early afternoon but by 1985 the main flow was switched from Wembley to Ipswich and diesel haulage in a late evening down slot made the train less memorable as you can’t beat an 82 roaring North in warm afternoon sun with 10 “white tanks” in tow.

More “BOC” bits

85 015 working a Manchester-Willesden Freight had a rear end collision in bad weather at Roade cutting with the BOC tank train.

“I used to cycle over to watch this train as it was always a big roarer! In fact I scored my last 82 for sight on this train”

82008 on the up BOCS in trouble when a “journal” burnt off a BOC tanker damaging over a mile of track near Hemel in Jan 80

In atrocious weather on 140880 85015 on the 2157 Dewsnapp-Willesden collided with rear of the 0116 Ditton-N.Wembley BOCS. 2 BOC tanks were damaged as were wagons on the freight and 85015 received severe front end damage and spent several years in Crewe Wks being rebuilt. The collision just South of Roade closed the Northampton loop for 2 days

Vintage BOC pm views 010873 E3048, 010475 87034, 270875 85020, 011075 81022, 110676 85029, 011076 85019, 011282 82005

“Rats” on the BOC’s!, electric shortages saw 25249/25303 on the Ditton – N.Wembley on 230285 and a repeat rat thrash with 25278/25309 on 160385

Some local “BOC” phots

 Classic Tring view of the afternoon empties returning North with 83006 up front in Mar 80. A Trev Rolfe view.

 An unusual rear end consist view of late running BOC tanks at Leighton on 030782 with 85009 up front. Note the modern electric tail lamp rather than more standard freight paraffin lamp for obvious reasons!

85006 approaches Leighton station with the afternoon BOC empties returning North on 200383.

A Watford Jn view of the afternoon empties returning North with 85015 up front in April 84, a 501 on the DC too! A Trev Rolfe view.

 47301 passes Gospel Oak with 6L76 Ditton – Ipswich BOC tanks, 291292, thanks to “60A”

 LWBK sector ( Cardiff Canton-Midland & North West Pool) Built August 1977  56 033 is seen at Wembley yard with a rake of these tanks, I seem to remember these were being moved for storage and had come into the yard to await a forward driver. A June 95 view from “RM”

Today’s scene

A small non rail served BOC depot remains at Wembley North but the main former BOC rail depot area is now a warehouse. The BOC facilities incl the unloading bays and holding tanks were demolished in Aug 88. Relic sections of the up service line between the old ground frames survive, as does, incredibly, a sign stating “electric trains no entry to BOC sidings” 

Some of the BOC wagons ended up in store in sidings at Barnetby from 1995. With small trees growing up all around it was a suprise to hear that a good few were extracted from the yard by lorry in March 2013. The tanks being exported to India.

The “BOC” tanks, gone but not forgotten


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