Gazelle’s Trailers

After completing a short article about ‘Gazelle’, I became interested in the two different trailing cars which served behind it on the Shropshire & Montgomeryshire Light Railway. ….

The LCC Tram Body: the first was a London County Council tram body on another chassis. The tram having been cut down from a double-decker to serve on the railway. [15]

Gazelle’s first trailer was not that photogenic. it looked like a cut down tram body, rather than a purposely designed trailer for Gazelle. It was an excellent example of Colonel Stevens ability to extend life of time-served rolling stock. Then image below shows one of the horse trams that was used for the conversion. Horse-drawn London tram of the type converted by Colonel Stephens. [18]The first trailer car sits at the back of the siding at Kinnerley. [19]A Shapeways 3D print of the Gazelle’s first trailer on the S&MLR. [20]

The Wolseley-Siddeley Railcar Body: the second [15] utilised the body of a Wolseley Siddeley railcar and reused the chassis of the older trailer. Wolseley and Siddeley worked together building motor cars from 1905 to 1910. Grace’s Guide [2] says that in 1905, the Wolseley Tool and Motor Car Co purchased the Siddeley Autocar Co, with founder John Davenport Siddeley in charge. Siddeley took control of the merged concern, renaming the marque Wolseley-Siddeley. The company made the stately Wolseley-Siddeley motorcars. They were used by Queen Alexandra and the Duke of York, the later King Edward VII.

In 1905, the company produced  6 h.p., 12 h.p., 15 h.p., 18 h.p., 25 h.p., 32 h.p. and 70 h.p. models of car. These were constructed by Wolseley. [3]A Wolseley-Siddeley Pheaton from 1908. [4]

Later in 1905, the company produced a 100-hp car using four-cylinders and of 15,685cc capacity. [2]

Garrett and Scott-Morgan say that the first evidence for the construction of the railcar was found ” on the premises of Drake & Fletcher, motor engineers of Maidstone. The photograph is unfortunately not dated and Drake & Fletcher has no other record or recollection of the vehicle. The photograph shows a Wolseley-Siddeley motor car chassis fitted with rail wheels and carrying what appears to be the body if a platelayer’s trolley, lettered K&ESR. The chassis seems to have been lengthened and a second radiator has been fitted at the back, presumably for cooling when running in reverse.” [1: p15]

The Museum of English Rural Life holds a number of records for Drake & Fletcher. The firm began business, c.1882, as Drake & Muirhead, concerned with the repair of light domestic appliances such as sewing machines, but in the 1890’s branched out into hop spraying machinery, and thereafter concentrated on spraying machinery as its principal item of manufacture. In 1890 the concern was re-christened the Kentish Engineering Works and became Drake & Fletcher in 1898. The limited company was formed in the mid 1920’s and from 1958 onwards the firm has held the royal warrant. The records at the museum are nearly all advertising publications, covering the range of Drake & Fletcher’s products from the 1930’s onwards. As well as spraying machinery, the firm also dealt in oast house equipment and fruit and vegetable grading and packing machinery. There is no reference in these records to an association with the railcar. [5]

Grace’s Guide [6] says that the Company was formed in 1898 as a small engineering shop. They built their first motor car in Maidstone but although used by the family, the car never went into production. They produced their first tractor in 1903. It had a three-cylinder petrol engine. 

There is an early picture of the chassis on the K&ESR seemingly acting as goods transport vehicle with a rear platform.The Wollesley and Siddeley chassis at work on the K&ESR. [7]

Later, the chassis was “fitted with a passenger body at Rolvenden. There is a tantalising glimpse, of what appears to be the body under construction, in the background of an undated photograph of 0-8-0T ‘Hecate’, but reliable reports testify to its construction ‘in a cowshed in Cake Road, Tonbridge, and the scene at Rolvenden was presumably it’s attachment to the chassis. Official photographs of the completed vehicle were then taken at Rolvenden,” [1: p15] and it must be presumed that the railcar at least ran trials on the K&ESR.The official photograph of the Wolseley-Siddeley Railcar (c) Colonel Stephens Railway Museum. [1: p16]

There is evidence that the railcar spent time on the Selsey Tramway at Chichester. There are photographs, and it was also clearly remembered by Herbert Warwick who drove on the Tramway from 1923 to 1926.  “He recollected that it was extremely difficult to start and that the rear radiator was smashed when the railmotor was being turned on the Southern turntable at Chichester.” [1: p17]

The film accessed via the link below was taken in 1928 and shows two very similar units to the Wolesley-Siddeley railcar in use on a train on the Selsey tramway. These units were built by the Shefflex Motor Co. [8]

This unique film shows the 7¼ mile long West Sussex Railway (Tramway Section) as it was called at the time of filming, working in its declining years and using railcars made by the Shefflex Motor Company. We see an arriving service drop off its passengers at the line’s Chichester terminus, while waiting passengers, including schoolchildren, get on board. The driver starts the petrol-engined railbus by hand-cranking the engine and then it’s back down the line to Selsey. [8]A still from the above short film taken in 1928. This shows a different but very similar railcar to the Wolseley-Siddeley, but this one was made by the Shefflex Motor Company standing at the platform at the station in Chichester. [8]

Incidentally, originally intended as a standard gauge railway, the Hundred of Manhood & Selsey Tramway, as it was known on opening in 1897, was engineered by Colonel Stephens, as a tramway in order to bypass expensive legislation and regulations that applied to normal railway working. At first the line ran all the way to Selsey Beach, though this section closed around 1904 or 1908. The years prior to WW1 were the line’s most profitable but with increasing competition from road vehicles and bus services after the war, the number of passengers dropped dramatically. The introduction of petrol-engined railcars was an attempt to reduce operating costs but by January 1935 the line had ceased operating. [8]

The Shefflex Railcars are shown in use in the images below.Shefflex Railcars in train at Selsey Bridge Station. [9] Shefflex Railcars in train at Chichester Station. [9]Shefflex Railcar in train at Hunston Station. [9]Shefflex Railcars in train at Chalder Station. [9]The above image purports to show Wolseley-Siddeley Railcar at Selsey Shed. [9]

The adjacent image purports to show the Wolseley-Siddeley Railcar paired with the Rail Lorry at Selsey Shed. [11]

Below, ‘steamandthings’ say that the Wolseley-Siddeley Railcar is still paired with the Rail Lorry after being moved to the Shropshire and Montgomery Light Railway, although there seems to have been a change in the roof profile. [11]This change in roof profile in all three pictures and the arrangement of the top-lights and the end of each carriage may well be significant. The running board also runs the full length of the body in the bottom photograph which was not the case on the Wolseley-Siddley Railcar (see above). All of this suggests that Colonel Stevens might have rung the changes between the different railcars available to him on the Shropshire & Montgomery Light Railway in the period before removing one of the railcar bodies to create the second version of the tram paired with Gazelle. The rail lorry, it seems, was paired in a push-pull fashion with the railcars and so avoided the need for a turntable at the end of any chosen service. This Shapeways O-Gauge 3D print shows clearly the more curved profile of the Wolseley-Siddeley body compared to the picture above which probably shows on of the ‘Ford’ railcars. [13]

There is a helpful reflection on these matters, and the 1928 photograph above, from Jim Lake on the Disused Stations website: [12]

“Believed taken in 1928, [the] view shows a Shropshire & Montgomeryshire train at Llanymynech Junction. Lt. Colonel H.F.Stephens introduced a number of petrol railmotors to his light railway empire in an attempt to control operating costs. There was a single Wolseley-Siddeley railmotor, a number of Ford Railmotors and a number of Shefflex (Sheffield Simplex) sets. The Ford and Shefflex railmotors ran, usually, in pairs coupled back to back and with the leading vehicle towing the other. There was also a three-car Ford set; two powered cars with a matching intermediate trailer car. This intermediate trailer remains something of a mystery as, following a short period of use, it simply vanished. The three-car set is known to have been seriously underpowered and could not cope with the gradient out of Shrewsbury (Abbey). This exists a common misconception that the Ford passenger railmotors were converted road vehicles but they were not. They were actually built-up using Ford Model T components (possibly the 1 ton version), with bodywork by Messrs. Edmonds of Thetford, Norfolk. It is, however, unclear if Edmonds constructed the entire vehicles or if they merely supplied the bodies and the railmotors completed in Stephens own workshops. With the exception of no steering and a locking device to prevent passengers meddling with the controls of the trailing vehicle, the method of driving the Ford railmotors was the same as with the Model T road vehicles; hand operated throttle and ignition advance/retard with foot pedals for brake, reverse and top gear ratio plus a handbrake lever which also initially engaged the drive. Starting was by means of a cranking handle.

Two of the railmotors were converted road vehicles; the Wolseley-Siddeley car and the somewhat mysterious Ford lorry. The lorry is said to have been used by Stephens as his personal road transport and could, when required, be converted for rail use by changing the wheels and locking the steering. Indeed, close examination of the above photograph shows the steering wheel to be present. Whether or not the ‘convertible’ story is true has never been established but the lorry, believed to be a Model TT (the 1 ton lorry version of the Model T car), seems to have taken permanently to the rails as a partner for the one-off Wolseley-Siddeley railmotor which is itself something of a mystery as it is known to have had a second radiator at its rear end but is thought to have only been driveable from its leading end. This conjures up comical images of the railmotor rattling along, slowly, in reverse gear with the driver looking over his shoulder! Whatever the truth, paring the Ford lorry to the Wolseley-Siddeley overcame the reversing problem. The Wolseley-Siddeley, incidentally, also ran on the Selsey Tramway where it is known to have been turned on the Southern’s turntable at Chichester and this inconvenience plus, perhaps, some damage it received to its second radiator during one such move, could have been the reason for the introduction of the lorry.

Both vehicles spent a time on the S&M and the photograph shows the lorry coupled to one of the railmotors. Whilst this combination could be described as a ‘mixed’ train, it is more likely that on the day it was photographed the lorry was deputising for a failed railmotor. The (passenger) railmotor is one of the Ford vehicles. Just visible is the sliding door in its rear which allowed passage between two such vehicles when coupled together. Luggage was carried on the roof, hence the railings, but whether this actually occurred in practice is not known. Seating was wooden, in the Fords at least, and of the reversible type as used in tramcars. As if that wasn’t enough luxury, the railmotors are thought to have been heated by diverting engine exhaust through pipework within the saloon and then to atmosphere. Contemporary reports (and haters of the modern ‘Pacer’ DMUs take note) state the ride quality of the Colonel Stephens railmotors was atrocious. Nevertheless they did the job they were designed to do and provided a service where such would have been totally uneconomic with conventional rolling stock and steam locomotives.” [12]

The Wolseley-Siddley Railcar and the original trailer built from the LCC tram sit alongside each other on the Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Light Railway at Kinnerley, (c) Lens of Sutton. [1: p16]The Shapeways O-gauge body kit for the Wolseley-Siddeley Railcar! [14]The Wolseley-Siddeley after its conversion to the second trailer car, seen at Kinnerley behind the diminutive Gazelle, (c) L.W. Perkins. [16]An excellent view of Gazelle from within its first trailer car! [17]The Wolseley-Siddeley trailer in its final guise as a permanent way hut on the Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Light Railway. [10]


  1. Stephen Garrett & John Scott-Morgan; Colonel Stephens Railmotors; Irwell Press,  Caernarfon, 1995.
  2., accessed on 23rd July 2019.
  3. Ed. Paul  N. Hasluck; The Automobile Vol. III.; Cassell and Co., 1906.
  4., accessed on 23rd July 2019.
  5., accessed on 23rd July 2019.
  6., accessed on 23rd July 2019.
  7., accessed on 26th July 2019.
  8., accessed on 26th July 2019.
  9., accessed on 26th July 2019.
  10., accessed on 26th July 2019.
  11., accessed on 26th July 2019.
  12., accessed on 27th July 2019.
  13., accessed on 27th July 2019.
  14., accessed on 27th July 2019.
  15., accessed on 27th July 2019.
  16. Eric S. Tonks;, accessed on 20th July 2019.
  17., accessed on 27th July 2019.
  18., accessed on 27th July 2019.
  19., accessed on 27th July 2019.
  20., accessed on 26th July 2019.


1 thought on “Gazelle’s Trailers

  1. Pingback: Holiday Reading! | Roger Farnworth

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