London Overground donates rare oil tanker to museum

27 August 2014

A rare 1950s oil tanker has been donated by Transport for London to the East Anglian Railway Heritage museum.

Wagon number '749659', which was based at the Willesden Junction depot where it was used to hold benzene carriage cleaning solution, will join other tankers on display and help the museum to tell the story of how liquids have been transported by rail.  

Before the tanker could be moved 75 miles to the museum by road, the tank had to be cut from its chassis and both parts moved separately due to the low bridge over the depot approach road. The museum will clean, refurbish and repaint tanker this winter so it is ready for public display next year.  

Director of TfL's London Overground, Mike Stubbs, said: `London Overground is focussed on providing an efficient and reliable 21st Century railway service to a 21st Century world city but we also acknowledge the industry's past and the skills, knowledge and design from 60 years ago. 

`The past has enabled the industry to be what it is in 2014 and we are pleased to be able to give this tanker a fitting home at the museum. This continues our relationship with the Museum as previously we donated historically important assets form Crystal Palace station when we reopened the Victorian ticket hall that had remained out of use for many decades.` 

East Anglian Railway Museum Treasurer Ian Reed, said: `The Museum, a registered charity run by volunteers and accredited by Arts Council England, is delighted to have an example of the tankers used locally across the North Sea on the rail ferry service that ran up to the 1960s.  It complements the Molasses tanker from the 1920s and petroleum product tankers from the 40s and 50s that show the development of the design of 4 wheel tankers during the early to mid 20th Century.'

`Any volunteers wishing to get involved are always welcome, see our website at  The Museum appreciates the support given by Transport for London in helping to preserve elements of our railway heritage for people to enjoy now and for the future.`  

TfL Project Manager Brian Lynn, who supervised the move, said: `London Overground assisted by our contractors Laing O'Rourke are extremely pleased to be associated with Ian Reed and his team at the East Anglia Railway Museum in preserving national and local rail history by donating this historical rolling stock for restoration and display.`  

At the Museum, the tanker will assist in telling the story of transport of liquids by rail, and will be the most modern of the four tank wagons showing the transport of petrol, oil and molasses, and now benzene, over the centuries.

  • The wagon is No.749659, the last of a batch of only 10 built to Diagram 1/304 as Lot No.2240 by Hurst Nelson of Glasgow in 1951 to the order of Petrochemicals Limited for Benzene traffic to the Continent.
  • The usual route for this was via Harwich in Essex
  • It has a long link 12ft wheelbase with ferry chaining down eyes and is air piped. It is 27'4" long, and 8'6" wide. Its capacity is 7,500 gallons
  • Images are available. Please contact the TfL Press Office