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'Black Mary' hearse van

hearse van

Rather unexpectedly an eBay bid for an LGB Lake George and Boulder baggage-cum-guards van was successful. These models have sliding doors but are moulded in a rather lurid yellow. So within minutes of unpackaging the Regulation Grey spray paint was being unleashed on the dismantled parts. (Although there has been a subtle change in the railway's Regulations to allow Wilko's grey primer to be used instead of what may have been The Range's shade of grey primer.)

But only a matter of a couple of weeks before the management had arranged for a guards-cum-parcel van to be constructed, so there was little need for a second one. However, lurking well down the 'to do' list was the notion of emulating the Ffestiniog Railway's hearse van. Sure, the Lake George and Boulder vehicle was considerably bigger. But then again, so were the 'hearse trams' used in cities such as Prague and Vienna.

Vienna's Leichentram.

Prague's 'Black Mary' tram.

Ffestiniog Railway's hearse van.
Many thanks to Nigel for making me aware of the first two.


The totally featureless roof of the Lake George and Boulder model was augmented with clerestory windows (left over from the re-roofing of the 'Monarch of the Glen') and, in the corners, four ornamental finials made from plastic beads.

There are plans for a small steeple with a cross in the top sitting in the centre of the clerestory. But – as with crematoria chapels – this needs to be removable for more 'inter-faith' or humanist occasions.

The inside of the hearse wagon was painted burgundy and purple cellophane used to glaze the windows. A coffin and associated supports will be installed.

The exterior was given two coats of gloss black to emulate the sumptuous finish of Prague's 'Black Mary' and make it distinctive among what are otherwise matt-finish rolling stock. Any 'metalwork' – such as grab handles, railings and support brackets – were given a dose of 'gold' (strictly 'brass') paint.

On the rear is a sign reading 'LAST VEHICLE' – the Ffestiniog Railway's counterpart to the red tail lights used by most railways.


… after

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Images and text copyright Bob Trubshaw 2018–2021