Wagons may be the poor relation in the model railway world with the fame, glory and admiration mainly heaped on their bolder, flashier and more famous big brothers the locomotives. But it is these glorious planks, hoppers, vans, tankers and brake vans that truly capture my imagination and spark my enthusiasm for model rail.

My husband Mark introduced me to model rail by way of multiple model rail exhibitions when we first met many years ago. I always enjoyed going and could appreciate the skill and hard work that went into making the various layouts we saw, but for me its was spotting an n gauge plank wagon on a stand and being captured by the incredible detail and design that has started a passion for wagons that has led us to where we are today, running the Wagon Yard. My first wagon was a Graham Farish ‘Kobo’ and that first purchase has now spawned a collection of nearly 600 plank wagons plus an unknown number of other wagons. But private owner planks are my main focus and undoubted favourite.

Kobo from Graham Farish – the start of it all for this enthusiast (Photo: by Charles Bradshaw)

So why wagons? Because there is something infinitely interesting, engaging and pleasing about wagons in all their forms. The differences and attributes that define each type of wagon, the intricacies and design of the private owner wagons and their glorious artwork and the simple fact that wagons enhance a layout. It cannot be denied that no steam era layout is complete without a rake of plank wagons, whether running behind a loco or parked up in sidings or yard. They enhance the scene and bring a glorious feeling of realism, setting the scene of the age.

The same can be said for more modern layouts – tanks and hoppers can span a wide range of eras and locations offering interest, diversity and purpose to a layout. The undeniable truth is that wagons in all their forms, liveries and styles are an essential part of a railway modellers arsenal in creating outstanding layouts. Whether you are a stickler for being era specific or are more relaxed and run models based on what you like there is no denying the importance of wagons on a layout whatever your aim or motivation.

Rake of The Wagon Yard releases (Photo: by Adrian Harrison)


Wagons also offer an opportunity for enthusiasts who for whatever reason cannot have a running layout, to indulge in and enjoy the hobby of model rail collecting. A layout for me at this time is an impossibility with small children, a full time job and a fledgling business their is simply not enough hours in the day, but I can still enjoy researching, reading about and above all collecting new wagons or searching for older gems missing from my collection. There are many enthusiasts who derive great joy from wagons in this way and their collections are a triumph of dedication and passion and just as valid as those wagons run on layouts.

So as wonderful as locomotives are I say, the humble wagon matches them pound for pound in appeal, interest, beauty and undeniable sheer joy. So why wagons… well why not?

(Photos used with the kind permission of Charles Bradshaw and Adrian Harrison)