The carriage, as repainted into green livery at the end of 2002.
All photos on this page: Richard Salmon
Type: RMB (Restaurant Miniature Buffet), Diagram 98
Built: June 1960, at BR Wolverton Works (Lot 30507)
Original No: Sc1838
Other Nos: M1838, 1838
Seating: 44 2nd class
Body Length: 64' 6"
Weight: 37 Tons
To Bluebell: 2/6/1991
The photo on the right shows No.1838 as initially restored on the Bluebell, to Maroon livery. It shows the opposite side of the coach from the photo above.
Coaches such as this, from the late fifties and early sixties, are the core of most steam railways' carriage fleets. We are lucky on the Bluebell to have rather more pre-nationalisation vintage stock running than most others. However, a carefully restored and well-maintained Mk.I coach has an important role to play in the recreation of the last years of the steam era.
This is one of the later Mark I designs, the first example appearing in 1958. Designed to cater for light refreshments in the minimum possible space, in a standard SO body-shell, the RMB has about as much display and storage space crammed into the bar area as it is possible to get. Only 16 seats were removed in the initial design (BR Diagram 97) but it was soon found that additional storage was required, and a cupboard replaced another 4-seat bay. All seating bays have fixed tables.
Lot 30507 comprised 11 vehicles for the Scottish Region (Sc1838-48) and 4 for the Southern (S1849-52). As built, all the vehicles in this Lot would have worn BR lined maroon livery, including those allocated to the Southern Region! In keeping with the contemporary social trends of the 1950's, the small 16 seat saloon was set aside for non-smokers. The Lot was built with vacuum braking, steam heating and BR1 bogies (BR Diagram 98) but by 1979, this RMB had acquired Commonwealth cast bogies (this type having better ride qualities at higher speeds), dual heating and dual (air and vacuum) braking.
In the early 1980's those RMBs remaining in service were refurbished with modern fluorescent lighting. 1838 was so refurbished and was based at Oxley (Birmingham), continuing in Intercity Cross-Country service, being based at Euston, then Longsight (Manchester) until withdrawal.
After arrival on the Bluebell it received some bodywork repairs, and an overhaul and "de-furbishment" of the interior, returning it to 1960s' condition, but with the buffet refitted to meet modern hygiene requirements. It entered service at Easter 1993. The photo on the left, taken in December 2003, shows the interior of the coach, trimmed in "Trojan" moquette, and with the original formica restored.
Attention to the end structure, involving the removal of the Gangway connectors, was expected to be required at some time in the decade following the original overhaul, and indeed the toilet end was dealt with late in 2002, following which the coach was re-painted green.
During 2005 it became evident that there were leaks in the drinking water tank above the centre vestibule. The
tank has been removed and repaired. Structural steel sections in the roof have had to have new sections welded
in. In addition, much of the electrical wiring in this area has had to be renewed.
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