Half-Brake Carriage F.20

This is one  of two carriages which represented the smallest series of passenger rolling stock on the railway and arrived two years after F.19 in 1896 as part of a further batch of seven vehicles from the Metropolitan Carriage & Wagon Co., Ltd., and to all intents and purposes these were identical.  The second of the two was in the railway’s final batch of “Small Fs”, so called because when compared to later deliveries their rooflines are visibly lower.  Such was the demand for carriage of passengers’ luggage that two further vans were delivered in 1897 and these became known as “Empress Vans” as they arrived in Queen Victoria’s jubilee year.  These two vehicles were complete non-passenger coaches, exemplifying the popularity of the “luggage in advance” service that the enterprising railway company offered at that time.  Such was the success of F.19 and F.20 that ultimately eight further coaches of similar design were delivered to the railway, the last being F.49 in 1923 which was the last new passenger coach delivered to the line.  This vehicle remains in regular service today.  The eight following coaches were built on steel underframes as opposed to the original two that were constructed on all wooden frames as was commonplace at the time. Both vehicles saw regular use on the railway, mostly on the Peel and Ramsey lines where freight and goods traffic were a popular service; both coaches remained in traffic until the fateful closure in 1965 and again returned when the line re-opened in 1967.  It was long after closure that they had been selected for transporting to St. John’s for winter storage in the winter of 1975 when, on the evening of 10th December a disastrous fire ripped through the carriage shed destroying the majority of the contents.  F.20 was a write-off as a result and F.19 too badly damaged to consider saving, as the railway at this point had a surfeit of coaching stock; it was ultimately destroyed by fire in July of the following year.  A project such as this would require the cannibalisation of similar items of rolling stock wherever possible, fabrication of replacement parts, and total new-build of bodywork and other fittings but the ultimate reward would be the addition of another historical aspect of the railway being returned for future generations to enjoy.

Overall Length:

Width (At Body):

Width (To Ducket):



Bogie Type:


Wheel Centre:

Roof-Rail Height:


35’ 0”

7’ 0”  

8’ 2”

G / 3rd / 3rd / 3rd


Diamond Frame

4’ 6”

25’ 10”

9’ 4


F.20 leaving Douglas Station in July 1933 in the purple lake and off-white livery which it carried from delivery, note class designations.

July 1962 and F.20 arrives at St. John’s Station with a train from the west, in the post-war red and cream livery of the time.

F.20 in April 1950 at Ramsey Station in a rather pale plan looking livery; the end portion was similar in design to the Empress Vans.

An early view c.1900 of F.20 at Port Erin Station, note the original lettering along the side which read Luggage Compartment.