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Carriage Fleet Review - 2

Pre-Grouping (Southern) Coaches


This article, the second in the series, deals with the coaches built by the constituents of the Southern Railway in the first quarter of the 20th century. The Brighton Directors' saloon will be covered in a later article.

London Brighton and South Coast Railway Bogie First No. 142, (SR No. 7598)

LBSCR 7598 during overhaul
Left: One side complete and in undercoat, August 1996
LBSCR 7598 during overhaul
Right: The other side of the coach showing what was left to be done!

The restoration of this vehicle, undertaken and funded entirely by volunteers, has been well covered in Bluebell News. It is important to our collection for many reasons. Firstly it is the only ordinary LB&SCR bogie coach on the mainland of Britain, and for many years we ran an ex-LB&SCR line with none of that company's carriage stock in service! Secondly, it is a good example of a Billinton arc-roofed coach, at one time so common on Sussex branch lines and more prominently on the Isle of Wight. Its length of 48 feet was once the standard length of much of the rolling stock built by many different railways, but now very few survive. Most importantly, it is now restored to use for ordinary passengers, and has entered regular service on the Railway.


LBSCR 7598 after overhaul
The coach undertook its first test run on 19th June 1998, and the following day, with painting, lettering and lining still to be completed and with seating completed only in one compartment, the coach was included in the branch-line train hauled by LBSCR No.473 "Birch Grove" at the re-launch into service of this centenarian locomotive. Over the next year more of the seating was completed, along with the intricate lettering and lining, and the coach returned to public service at the end of May 1999.


There is a separate web page for this coach, which was subsequently awarded the 2002/3 Heritage Railway Association "Best restored coach" award.


London and South Western Railway Lavatory Third No. 320.
LSWR Lavatory Third 320 in the 1960s This coach started life in 1900 as a 48-foot eight-compartment third. However it was lengthened to 58 feet in 1935 by the Southern Railway, by the addition of an extra compartment, and two lavatories serving only the centre two compartments. One of the Bluebell's first two coaches, it saw use until withdrawn (for what were thought to be light repairs) after a decade in service. Considerable work was undertaken before the lower body-side panelling was stripped from it, revealing a completely rotten bottom-side, due to the body not being spaced off from the underframe. After four years work, it was deemed more urgent to concentrate on the overhaul of the Bulleid stock which was then only 25 years old. Whilst it was secured under an overall tarpaulin in the up sidings at Horsted Keynes, this eventually leaked, causing further damage. In 2008 the coach was dried out in the carriage shed, and a new tarpaulin applied. In addition to a new bottom-side and major repairs at the ends, it probably requires new doors, but has a complete interior.



LSWR Corridor Third No 494
LSWR Corridor Third 494 This former camping coach was acquired to fill a gap left in our collection when the Caledonian Railway coach returned to Scotland, that of a pre-grouping corridor coach. Information is available to enable an authentic reconstruction of the interior from a contemporary book, the carriage chapter of which was written by Surrey Warner, the LSWR's carriage supremo. Structurally in good order, and with corridor partitions to the correct design obtained for it, its restoration was planned after the completion of Maunsell No.1309 back in the 1980s. However, other projects took precedence, and its restoration is now in abeyance, at least until some of our current projects have been completed. It resides under a tarpaulin in the up sidings.



LSWR Brake Third No. 1520 (SR No 2975)
LSWR 1520 before overhaul started Formerly in use on the Bluebell as the headquarters of our mobile fire train, a group of volunteers are well advanced in the long process of its restoration to traffic condition. There are still a few original seats and compartment walls within the body, which is amazing given its history (BR departmental tool van and then support coach for Clan Line before arrival on the Bluebell).

Restoration has reached a stage where the entire oak body structure has been renewed or repaired, and re-panelled in plywood. The roof has been replaced, and the interior structure is now completed. Attention is now turning to the finishing of the compartment interiors, making and fitting doors, and fitting the mouldings for the exterior.

See the LSWR Coach Project web page.



South Eastern and Chatham Railway Hundred Seaters Nos. 971 and 1098
These two high-capacity suburban coaches have been the stalwarts of our fleet since their arrival in 1963. Roger Williams expands on their history in a separate article. Both have been in regular service, and are painted in the lined olive green of the Southern Railway, but 971 was withdrawn for what was expected to be a quick repanelling exercise in 2007, but resulted in its withdrawal pending more major work.


SECR Birdcage Brake No. 1061 (SR 3334) SECR Short Birdcage Brake with Fenchurch in the 1960s
Known as the "Short Birdcage" to differentiate it from No. 1170 below, this coach ran in service for a number of years in the sixties and seventies. There is considerable will in the C&W department to see it restored at some point in the next decade. Structurally reasonably sound, but requiring work on its doors and panelling, it also has a complete, but partially non-authentic, interior. Reconstruction of the interior could be achieved by copying that in similar coaches which still survive complete. It is stored under tarpaulins.


SECR Short Birdcage Brake awaiting overhaul


SECR Birdcage Brake No.1084 (SR 3363)

DS22 at Rovelden, May 1998

Interior of restored compartment - June 2006 - Dave Clarke Above: 1084 in unrestored condition before delivery to the Bluebell.

Left: The first restored compartment, seen in 2006. (Dave Clarke)

Arriving on the Bluebell in 1999 for immediate overhaul, this coach may eventually form the matching partner for No.1061 in our Birdcage Trio set. It had a virtually complete (but very battered) interior, the restoration of which is already under way, and the body-structure, partitions, floor and roof have all been repaired, and part replaced as necessary. Initially it is intended to restore it as Southern Railway No.3363, to form the brake coach for our vintage set of SECR and LBSCR bogie vehicles. At a later stage it could be repainted into SECR livery to complete a Birdcage Trio Set with Nos.1061 and 5546.

Details of its overhaul are available here.



SECR Birdcage Brake No. 1170 (SR 3410)

1170 as painted for filming Raised Birdcage

Left: 1170, as painted for a filming assignment

Right: The raised guard's lookout, or "Birdcage"

This coach was the last available birdcage brake from departmental service in 1982, and was considered the only chance to complete our Birdcage Set. It is not a perfect match for No. 1061, being longer, if only three years newer. It appears superficially reasonably sound, but would probably require considerable work on the doors, some of which have been sealed up for the best part of thirty years, and also the body, which is of mahogany rather than the more durable teak of the others. No interior exists for this coach, but, being of a plain design this should not cause any serious problems for its eventual restoration. It is stored in the sidings at Horsted, and for some years the roof remained waterproof so it was not tarpaulined until more recently.



The third article in this series covers our Southern Railway Maunsell coaches (1923-1939).

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