Class H (Classes J, JI , JW and P before 1900)
Four wheeled low-sided wagons were part of the W.A.G.R's rolling stock from the very earliest days. The early wagons, which in 1900 became part of Class H, broke down into several groups. The earliest were those built for the Northern railway.
The first group of wagons for the main system were bult to a Metropolitan RCWCo RCWCo design. There were 15'-0"long. There wasa variant on this design with Iron Lined sides.
The second group consisted of twelve early Ballast wagons, originally class P. All of these early types disappeared in the early years of the twentieth century.
The third group (originally class JW) was the New Zealand Railways design which became the standard W.A.G.R. class H and ran to over 900 wagons. Their numbers were reduced by conversion and scrapping over the years until the final wagons went in the mid 1980's.
All of the above wagons had sides that were two planks high. After the introduction of the HA's the middle section of the ends was increased to three planks and later the full width of the ends of the wagons was made three planks high.
The fourth group was the twenty-four low-sided wagons inherited from the G. S. R (originally GSR class L) and identical to wagons built for the M.R.W.A. as their class I. They had all gone by 1958. However in 1964 the W.A.G.R. inherited another 14 of this type form the M.R.W.A. The final wagon in this group was written off in 1977.
There were examples of both of the third and fourth types in use as ballast ploughs. The final example lasting until the mid 1980's again.
The fifth group were 40 wagons produced on the 1901 type all steel underframe . These lasted until the early 1970's. They were easily distinguished from the standard wagons because their sides were three planks high.
Finally there was a group of wagons inherited from the P.W.D. at verious times. Some at least of these had South Australian type underframes, some had trapdoors in the floor and at least one was a ballast plough. Some may have had GC type underframes.
In 1904-5 a batch of 16 new H class wagons was built. They were vacuum braked, built on the GB type underframe and 7'-6" wide rather than the 6'-10" of the standard H. In 1905 they were reclassified HA. More HA class wagons were later added although it is unsure how similar they were to the original batch. Finally in 1964 two ex-M.R.W.A. M class wagons were reclassified HA. These wagons were 17'-0" long and thus rather different to the W.A.G.R. HA's. Class HA was extinct by 1972.
Class HB was introduced in 1926 with a total of 77 wagons converted to this standard by 1930. These wagons were wider again (8'-0") and were originally intended for transporting harvesters. They were all built on the N.Z.R. type chassis and most were converted from J class tankers. The bulk of these wagons lasted until the late 1960's but by 1977 they had all gone.
The post-war building program produced a new standard low-sided wagon on the 18'-0" long 10'-0" wheelbase chassis. This was class HC. A total of 270 were built in two batches. The first batch were delivered in 1952/3 with a final batch of twenty in 1961. These wagons formed the basis for conversions to several other classes. The first conversion was a single wagon to class NF in 1965. In 1967 another forty wagons were converted to class NO for Nickel ore containers. In the 1968-1971 period another twenty-eight were converted to NW class flat wagons for iron-ore containers. In 1972 fifteen HC class wagons were converted to carry nickel containers and reclassified HCN. In 1978/9 these wagons were all converted to GHE and GHB class high-sided open wagons. In 1976 one HC class wagon was converted to a platform wagon with Mesh sides and ends for Palletised traffic and reclassified HCP. The experiment was not a success and the wagon was converted to a class NA in 1980 as were 9 HC's in 1982. However many of the HC's survived to be amongst the last W.A.G.R. four wheelers in the early 1990's.
In 1953 15 flat wagons with two plank ends were built as class HD on the standard 18'-0" chassis with a 10'-0" wheelbase. The class lasted intact up until 1979 but they had all gone by 1988. The five similar HDA class wagons built at Midland in 1959 had a 9'-6" wheelbase.
In 1965 a single BE was converted into the new HCA class. Forty one more followed in 1967and the class designation was changed to HCL. They were superficially similar to the HC class but could only carry a lighter load. All but nine of this class survived to be written off en-masse in 1983.
The wagons in class HE were the last new low-side wagons built by the W.A.G.R. They were converted from 44 redundant CXA class cattle trucks in 1971. Three were converted to NS class shunters' floats in the early eighties and the rest were written off by 1983.
In the 1950's and 1960's small numbers of wagons of different types were reclassified HW as low-sided wagons for workmen's use. Most, but not all, were former H class wagons.