We Join the ECC - Original Liveried CDA China Clay Wagons On The Way!— Accurascale Rach gu susbaint
We Join the ECC - Original Liveried CDA China Clay Wagons On The Way!

We Join the ECC - Original Liveried CDA China Clay Wagons On The Way!

Great news! Do to a deluge of requests from modellers, and to mark the recent withdrawal from service of the real wagons, we are delighted to announce an all new run of our beautiful CDA hopper wagons in the iconic English China Clay (ECC) livery as they first appeared in service in early 1988.

Can it get any more classic Cornwall than these? Join us as we look at the history of these icons of railfreight as well as our stunning models below!


Replacing the famous ‘clay hoods’, the wooden-bodied UCV/OOV covered opens that dated from the 1950s, the distinctive CDA china clay hoppers featured striking blue framing and canopies, galvanised steel bodies and large English China Clays branding. Debuting at a ceremony at BREL Doncaster Works on September 2, 1987, the new fleet perfectly complemented the recently refurbished Railfreight red-stripe Class 37/5s being outshopped from Crewe Works and created an iconic new look for the services that had previously relied on wagons that were little changed from their GWR predecessors.

The air-braked CDAs were derived from the ubiquitous HAA merry-go-round hopper design with a similar 32-tonne capacity and were preceded by a prototype, modified from No. 353224 in early 1987. This led to BR’s Speedlink Distribution division placing an initial £4.5 million contract for 124 purpose-built covered hoppers, numbered 375000-375123. Following trials, the first revenue-earning movement of CDAs took place on January 26, 1988, and this allowed the ‘clay hoods’ to be taken out of service just two weeks later. A second batch of 14 followed in 1989, Nos. 375124-375137 all being rebuilt at RFS Doncaster from MGR hoppers.

The introduction of the CDAs coincided with the wider application of the new Roundel triple-grey scheme to the Class 37 fleet, which had seen Laira’s own No. 37673 repainted in Railfreight Distribution livery for the launch in October 1987. It wasn’t until 1989-91 that the other members of the St Blazey out-based group, Nos. 37669-37672, 37674 and 37675 would be similarly treated, by which point Scottish outcasts Nos. 37411 and 37412 had also been transferred to the south west for clay work. Experimental No. 50149 was also drafted in for over a year to provide cover while Nos. 37670 and 37671 were away for repairs after a derailment at Tavistock Junction in November 1987.

In their first years of operation the CDAs were loaded at a diverse range of locations in Cornwall, including Burngullow, Crugwallins, Drinnick Mill, Goonbarrow, Kernick/Treviscoe, Marsh Mills, Moorswater, Parkandillack and Trelavour. They were usually tripped to Lostwithiel for onward movement to Carne Point/Fowey for unloading for export.

From the early 1990s, the CDAs began to lose their ECC branding and the clay-stained fleet passed to the ‘shadow’ freight operator Transrail in 1994. By this point Laira had handed over responsibility for the St Blazey Class 37s to Cardiff Canton and the reshuffled pool included Nos. 37229, 37413, 37416, 37521, 37668-37674, 37695 and 37696, most of which would eventually also gain big ‘T’ brandings.

Following the EWS takeover in 1996 the Wisconsin Central-owned operator was very proactive in repainting the frames of the CDAs maroon and applying branding, although notably several vehicles managed to retain their original blue. The Class 37s continued to soldier on, with the pool now consisting of Nos. 37521, 37668-37674 and 37696, several of which gained EWS livery. However, it couldn’t last and Class 66s eventually took over full time from July 1999.

The sale of ECC to the French company Imerys in the same year saw a major revamp to the appearance of the rest of the china clay fleet, but the railway-owned CDAs were unchanged until DB Cargo acquired EWS in 2009. The same period also saw the first CDAs retired and by the time DB stickers began to appear on the wagons, four of the original batch had been deleted while 11 of the HAA conversions were stored or cut up. The other three were retained for internal use as barriers at Fowey Docks.

By 2015 just two rakes of 38 wagons were required for the Imerys contract and DB released the remaining wagons for scrap or component recovery. Further reductions in the active roster have taken place over the intervening eight years and by the start of 2023 over 30 wagons were in store at St Blazey, with the three internal users still at Fowey.

Sadly, just a few weeks shy of the 36th anniversary since their debut, DB took the remaining CDAs out of service. The last move from Goonbarrow took place on August 8, 2023. The last move from Parkandillack took place three days later on August 11, the 6P24 15.25 to Fowey Docks, comprising a full 38-vehicle set of CDAs. The wagons returned to St Blazey and into store, and have now all been cut up. Happily at least 12 have been preserved, prototype No. 353224 at Chasewater, No. 375088 at the former Barry Tourist Railway site, No. 375030 at the Plym Valley, Nos. 375050/061/063/067/090/091/113/117 by the National Wagon Preservation Group/Bodmin & Wenford and No. 375102 by a private buyer.

The surviving china clay traffic will remain on the rails and now utilises the same Arbel Fauvet-built bogie covered hoppers as the Exeter Riverside-Cliffe Vale flow. These have been supplemented by five ex-Tarmac JGAs.

The Model

As you can see in the photos above, our CDA wagons feature a wealth of detail and crispness which signifies 'The Accurascale Way'. A diecast chassis, brass bearings and 26mm pinpoint axles means smooth running and excellent performance on your layout.

Particular attention has been paid to the detail differences over the traditional HAA wagons these were based on, such as the equipment at the wagon end, holes in the bodyside on one side, the underframe and of course, the hood/canopy.

Given the flexibility of our tooling we can also cater for those wagons as built as CDAs from new, as well as those converted from HAA hoppers, giving the modellers a true variety in their wagon rake.

Tempted? At a price of just £79.95 for 3 wagons, and 10% off when you order two packs or more, why wouldn't you be? Pre-order yours via your local stockist, or direct below for a Q3 2024 delivery. 

Pre-Order Your ECC CDAs Right Here

Model Specifications

  • Highly-detailed OO gauge model, 1:76.2 scale on 16.5mm track
  • Minimum Radius 438mm (2nd Radius Set-track)
  • Weight 40g
  • Die-cast chassis for ideal weight
  • Detailed interior with rivets, framing, strapping and accurately profiled door 'horns'
  • RP25-110 profile OO gauge wheels with separate brake blocks in line with tread
  • Sprung metal buffers and dummy instanter couplings
  • Super fine plastic parts, incl. air pipes, lamp irons, safety catches, clasp and disc brakes, hopper door operating equipment, etc.
  • Etched metal details, incl. brake lever, chassis plates, etc.
  • Removable, Kinetic NEM coupler mounts at correct height with mini-tension-lock couplers provided with scale Instanters included

Numerous individual differences between wagon types

  • Two styles of hopper door: 'X' pattern on coal variants and 'straight beam' pattern on CDA
  • Heavy duty buffers
  • CDA correctly features large end air cylinder and above solebar mounted brake distributor, end ventilator boxes, highly detailed roof with textured canvas cover and chassis mounted operating handles
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