As the years went by, greater comforts were added. The third class and the guard and luggage were accommodated inside the coaches, and six-wheeled coaches, giving a smoother ride than the older four-wheeled types, were introduced (as in the photo, Right, of a First Class coach of the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway built in 1880).
Heating was provided using steam from the engine (where previously passengers could hire hot-water bottles and blankets at stations). To improve safety, trains started to have "continuous" brakes on all coaches controlled by the driver, rather than just a hand brake controlled by the guard, and a "communication cord" by which passengers could raise an alarm. Lighting was originally by oil lamp, very dingy. Some coaches (such as our Great Northern Railway directors' saloon Below) had "clerestory" roofs with windows in them to let more light into the centre of the coach.
In his brake coach, the guard was able to keep a lookout along the train using either a "birdcage" on the roof, or a "ducket" at the side.
By 1900 "Bogie" coaches were being introduced, that is, the type of coach we know today, carried on a small 4-wheeled "bogie" at each end. This provided much greater comfort, due to a smoother ride, thanks to having both primary "suspension" (springs) between the wheels and the bogies, and secondary suspension between the bogies and the coach. In addition, it allowed coaches to corner more smoothly. Gas lighting had replaced oil, but after some horrendous fires following accidents the railways started to use electric lighting. Our four Metropolitan Railway coaches, the last of which is currently under repair in the carriage shed, were some of the very first to be electrically lit. On these though you can still see the stage-coach influence, in the "tumblehome" at the ends of the coaches.
The coach body was originally wooden framed, using teak, ash or oak, and panelled with wood, such as our London & North Western Observation Car of 1913. By the 1920s it was common for coaches to be wooden framed, but with steel panelling. The majority of the coaches running on the Bluebell Railway are like this. After the Second World War, the structural framing also became steel, as in our British Railways Mark 1 coaches, such as the two buffet cars. To bring the story right up to date, the very latest coaches, built in the last few years, are of aluminium construction.
By the 1950s the guard had a periscope with which to look along the train and observe signals. Electric heating (using power supplied from an electric or diesel locomotive) and air (rather than vacuum) brakes started to be fitted. Second class was abolished in the early years of the 20th century, with the exception of trains to the channel ports for ferry services which still retained second class. Thus most railways had only first and third classes, until 1956 when third was re-named second (now "standard").
Some coaches, known as "brake coaches", had a compartment set aside for the guard, and also a luggage space. In the days when families used to go on holiday by train there was a vast amount of luggage to be carried, and up to half of the brake coach could be given over to luggage, with half the coaches in the train being brakes!
Coaches were designated by class, by corridor arrangement, and by lavatory provision. A composite coach was one with seating for both first and third class. In the days of second class there were "Tri-composites" with all three. The Midland Railway, towards the end of the 19th century, abolished second class, improving its third class seating to the same standard as second had been, and reduced the fares in first class. The other railway companies reluctantly followed suit, so as not to appear behind the times. First class compartments usually sat six (or sometimes eight if there was no corridor), and had arm-rests and more space than third class, which seated 8 (10 or even 12 if no corridor) per compartment. In 1956 third class was re-named "second", and in the last decade of the 20th century, "standard".
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