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World War One
 
 SE&CR Cavell Van No 132

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This particular vehicle is of historical importance. It was built at the Ashford Works of the South Eastern & Chatham Railway in 1919, the prototype of the Utility Van design that in later years could be seen all over Britain into the 1970s and to a lesser extent the 1980s.
 
From a remembrance point of view the vehicle is historically relevant for having transported the repatriated bodies of at least three significant people who lost their lives in the First World War. One of these was the body of Nurse Edith Cavell, after whom the Cavell Vans were named.
 
It is appropriate that the first version of this web page was published on Remembrance Sunday in the year 2010.
 
 
SE&CR Cavell Van number 132
Cavell Van SECR 132. The prototype of a great many such general purpose vehicles.
Seen at Bodiam in Kent on the K&ESR on 7th November 2010. Photo Rob Bayliff.
 
Officially this type of van was classified as non-passenger coaching stock. They could be seen in passenger and  parcels trains, and and to a lesser extent in goods trains.
   
     
  SE&CR 132 became number 1972 after that railway became part of the SR (Southern Railway). In August 1946 it was renumbered 374S and allocated  to the transport of materials between SR's Brighton Works and their Lancing Carriage Works.
 
Some time after the formation of BR (British Railways) the van was renumbered to DS374 and was allocated to the Power Supply Section as a maintenance vehicle.
 
In October 1967 it was renumbered to 082757 and ceased to be allowed to travel on the main line without special permission. In 1991 the van was withdrawn from service and stored out of use in Hoo Junction Yard. The historical significance of the vehicle was recognised by the Tenterden Rolling Stock Group who purchased it for preservation and moved it to the Kent & East Sussex Railway in January 1992.
 
     

   
 
SE&CR Cavell Van number 132
A closer view of the Cavell Van. Bodiam K&ESR station 7th November 2010. Photo Rob Bayliff. 

     
  This vehicle was used in Britain to transport the remains of at least three significant people who lost their lives during the First World War. On each occasion the van was suitably adorned.
 
Nurse Edith Cavell assisted over 200 Allied soldiers to escape from German-occupied Belgium. She was arrested by the Germans and found guilty of treason. Her execution by firing squad took place in Brussels on 12th October 1915. On 15th May 1919 her body arrived at Dover and was taken in the Cavell Van to London for a memorial service in Westminster Abbey before burial in her home town of Norwich.
 
On 15th July 1919 the Cavell Van was again used to transport the remains of a hero from Dover to London.
 Captain Charles Algernon Fryatt was the Master of a Great Eastern Railway steamer that plied between Harwich and the Hook of Holland. He rammed a U-boat that ordered him to surrender. He was subsequently arrested by the Germans in June 1916 and executed..
 
 Possibly the most famous use of the Cavell Van was for the transport of the Unknown Warrior. The body arrived at Dover on 10th November 1920 and was loaded into SE&CR 132 for the journey to London. The burial service was attended by King George V at the inauguration of the Cenotaph on 11 November 1920. 
 
     

  
 
SE&CR Cavell Van number 132
Plate on the Cavell Van. Bodiam K&ESR station 7th November 2010. Photo Rob Bayliff.
  

     
  The lettering on the plate attached to the preserved vehicle reads as follows:
 
SE & C RLY VAN No 132
BUILT AT ASHFORD WORKS 1919
THIS VEHICLE WAS THE PROTOTYPE
UTILITY VAN AND IN MAY 1919 WAS USED
TO CONVEY THE BODY OF
NURSE EDITH CAVELL
BETWEEN DOVER AND LONDON
 
     

   
 
Nurse Edith Cavell
Nurse Edith Cavell
  
 
 
SE&CR Cavell Van number 132
A final view of the Cavell Van. Bodiam K&ESR station 7th November 2010. Photo Rob Bayliff.
  
 
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  This page is dedicated to the memory of all who gave their lives during the two world wars.
Their sacrifice should not be forgotten.
 
     
 


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