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Southern Railway
Maunsell Nondescript Brake No.4444

SR Maunsell Nondescript Brake 4444

Richard Salmon

Type: Nondescript Brake/Ambulance Car
Built: 1933 at Eastleigh (E708)
Original No: 4444
Other Nos: S4444S, S7921S, MoD: AD 777
Seating: 36 1st, 2nd or 3rd class as required (later 35, including 24 invalids)
Length: 59'
Restriction: 1
Weight: 31 tons
Withdrawn: 1968
Preserved: 1980
To Bluebell: 29/8/1980

The Maunsell restriction 1 (8'6" wide) "nondescript" or unclassed coaches were built for use on the South Eastern Section boat trains, and could be allocated for first, second or third class as required by the passenger complement of the ship for which the train was run. Internally they were fine vehicles, divided into three separate saloon areas, quite fit for first-class use. They also found use, as rather plush third-class accommodation, on special trains run for some of the many boarding schools within the SR's area at the start and end of term. Two of these splendid coaches are to be found, in working order, on the Kent & East Sussex Railway.

Used in the Southern Region Officers' Train from 1946 to 1956, in 1959 it was substantially modified (or butchered as one writer has put it) and renumbered to become an ambulance coach. It was one of four modified with 11 seats and 24 cots for the initial stage of the pilgrimage journey to Lourdes. After withdrawal from this use it was sold to the army, for continued use as an ambulance coach at Bramley, until condemned by a rolling stock inspector who fell through its rotten roof.

On arrival on the Bluebell the old roof was removed and burned, and a new one fitted. Internally it was again modified to become Sheffield Park's buffet, prior to the building of the current facility. It then served for a time as the Carriage Shop. Its roof is now leaking again, and it appears that the dry rot had not been eliminated the first time around. It may eventually donate its underframe to allow the restoration of the identical No.4441, which survives at the Bluebell in much better condition.

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