The Company’s first wagons were contractor built for the opening of the line in 1846, and consisted of 50 goods wagons, 100 covered trucks, 30 cattle trucks and 100 mineral wagons, a total of 280 vehicles. A census taken on 18 May 1849 recorded that the wagon fleet had risen to 1601 vehicles, a measure of the rapid expansion of the railway in barely three years. There is little documentation giving details of these vehicles, although they are identifiable from photographs, the earliest known images dating from 1848.
It was not until the mid-1870s that any real form of standardisation was introduced, centred around the Company’s works at Cowlairs under the direction of locomotive superintendent, Dugald Drummond. Although wagon building of standard types continued at Cowlairs under his successors, Holmes and Reid, the NBR still used contractors to build their wagons at times of peak demand. The illustration above shows a standard three plank open goods wagon and a typical NBR brake van, a somewhat unusual design, first introduced in the 1880s and still being built well into the twentieth century.