Background

The CEA conversion was one of the later attempts to find a use for the large numbers of HEA hoppers that were standing around with very little to do as the requirements for domestic and industrial coal diminished. The CEAs were converted in 1996 by the shadow privatisation company Loadhaul with a retractable sheet that could be rolled back from ground level by attaching a windlass to a spigot fitted to the under-frame. The sheet allowed the CEAs to carry products which needed protecting from the weather or that may have had issues with dust blowing off in transit. Interestingly a thin corner support was added to the later build wagons at the time of conversion which led to a little bit of confusion at one point in the development of this expansion!

Some 44 wagons were converted and they appear to have had questionable success in traffic. Some commodities that the wagons have been noted carrying include Limestone, Calcified Seaweed, China Clay, Petroleum Coke and Chipped Tyres for use at Aberthawe Cement Works.

Following the sale of the three shadow privatisation companies to Wisconsin Central the CEA hoppers became the responsibility of English Welsh and Scottish Railway. The company was very pro-active in attempting to grow rail freight across the United Kingdom, both in terms of block train and wagonload traffic. EWS obviously saw some value in the CEA fleet and a large number received a coat of EWS maroon along with new matching flexible covers.

Oddly, for such a small fleet of wagons the repainting wasn't uniform and two distinct styles appeared. In one case the wagons received EWS maroon on the hopper body area only, the lettering and notices were in the same style applied to the wagons when converted by Loadhaul and no EWS branding was carried. Other wagons also received maroon paint on the top face of the under-frame and on the buffer beams, EWS branding was applied and other lettering above under-frame level was moved and applied in gold using Gill Sans.

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