BSK No.35207 on arrival at Horsted Keynes on 5 May 2014. The choice of livery is that of its owner.
Up to the mid-1960s passenger trains ran with a brake van at each end. One reason for having a van section behind the engine was to protect passengers from water ingress when the tender overflowed during scooping operations (the SR did not have water troughs). There was a general desire that the last vehicle in a train should have a handbrake in case a coupling failed and the train became divided on a gradient. Although the vacuum brake would stop the rear part of the train, eventually it would leak off so a handbrake was seen as the only guarantee of safety.
In 1963 (four years before the end of steam on the Southern Region) around 190 BR Mark 1 BSKs could be found allocated to the region. SR coaching stock was largely formed into sets with a BSK at each end. 3-car sets (with a CK in the centre) were most common and these could be seen working across the Region.
Apart from those vehicles used on the "Royal Wessex" service, all SR Mk1 stock sat four-a-side in third (later second) class in corridor. The large van area reflected the early 1950s need to carry, variously, heavy luggage, parcels (a railway business), bags of mail (Royal Mail), perambulators and accompanied dogs.
Lot 30427 comprised 98 vehicles numbered 35176-35273; 75 vehicles numbered 35176-35250 for the London Midland Region and the remaining 23 for the Eastern Region. These were built with vacuum braking, dual (electric and steam) heating and ran on BR1 bogies, which were of a traditional design with leaf springs and oil axle boxes.
By 1974, still allocated to the LMR, 35207 had been fitted with new B4 bogies. It was withdrawn from BR service and preserved on the Mid-Hants Railway in 1983. 35207 remained there until 1993, at which time its ownership was transferred and it moved to Stewarts Lane, being allocated the TOPS/POIS number VSOE 99544. April 2001 saw the carriage, now privately owned, moved to the East Somerset Railway and entering traffic there in August 2001. It has been overhauled at Cranmore Traincare and restored to a close-to-original condition before being transferred to the Bluebell Railway under (as at 2014) a "storage with use" agreement with its owner. The carriage is now dual braked.
The crimson-and-cream livery is appropriate to the set number painted on the end, and is the choice of its owner. 516 was originally a standard 3-set, formed up early in 1957 from new vehicles, which were amongst the last to be delivered in crimson-and-cream livery. After a short period in general service, Set 516 was augmented with two Mk1 TSOs and a Maunsell Buffet to form a 6-set for cross country work. It was allocated to the Brighton - Plymouth service, and remained on that duty until June 1965, although the Maunsell vehicle had been replaced by a Mk 1 RB by 1961.
Type: BSK (Brake Corridor Second), Diagram 181
Built: 1958, by the BR Wolverton works (Lot 30427)
Original No: M35207
Current No: S35207
Seating: Originally 24, now 32 2nd class
Length: 64' 6" over body
Original Weight: 31 Tons
To Bluebell Railway: 29 April 2014
Right: BSK 35207 at Cranmore (ESR) in April 2014 prior to delivery to Bluebell. (Tom Bailey)