This superb vehicle should be the pride of our coaching stock fleet; not simply for its impressive appearance, as displayed in the official photograph above, but also for its uniqueness. Only two twelve-wheeled carriages were built by the LB&SCR; the King's Saloon and this, the Directors' Saloon. It is also the only LB&SCR bogie carriage to have survived complete into preservation in mainland Britain.
During the first half of 1914, a start was made on the construction of this vehicle at Lancing Works. Given the diagram number 67 and running number 60 in the LB&SCR First Class list, it was to be a Saloon for the use of the directors of the Company while inspecting or visiting the system. With a 60 foot body, it had a large dining saloon, 26 feet in length, with two tables having moveable chairs and a lounge, 12 feet in length. These were connected by a short corridor, off which was the kitchen, pantry and a lavatory. Each end of the vehicle was bowed and fitted with three large windows for observation. Steam heating was fitted. The six-wheeled bogies were of a unique design with little similarity to those used under contemporary Pullman cars on the Brighton line.
One of No. 60's six-wheel bogies seen shortly after delivery to Sheffield Park
It is understood that No.60 was laid aside during World War 1, only partly finished inside. In 1918 work commenced on fitting the vehicle out at Preston Park workshops. The interior finish was in mahogany and satinwood.
The view at the top of the page was taken shortly after completion, the location being at Brighton, just south of Preston Park workshops. External livery is umber brown with lining-out in gold, the LB&SCR coat of arms appearing twice on each body-side, with the number 60 in the waist panels above it. The roof is white.
As this 38 ton 8 cwt. carriage was not originally fitted with a handbrake, No.60 normally worked with six-wheeled brake van No.380, from which it was not to be detached. This van was always to be returned to Brighton with the Saloon, which was berthed there when not in use.
In 1923 the Saloon was inherited by the Southern Railway, which placed it in the Service Vehicles list, allocating it diagram number 1851 and the running number 291 S. Southern Railway olive green livery was applied. At a later, unknown date all the windows were altered, with large sliding ventilators replacing the original toplights. Six new roof ventilators, rather resembling smoke-ducts, were installed, four over the large saloon and two over the smaller. A handbrake was fitted, operated by a brake wheel on both sides, located just underneath the solebar. 291S was kept at Stewarts Lane for occasional use by Southern Railway "officers" (the railway title for the grades of senior managers).
End doors were fitted in July 1934, together with continental-style "fall-plates" allowing access through the corridor connection of an adjacent vehicle. What can best be described as an extending canopy or shroud was fitted over these to protect users from the elements. This canopy/shroud was designed to retract into as short a length as possible, in order not to block the view through the end windows. These were never conventional "corridor connections".
DS291 at Clapham Junction showing fall-plate and end gangway shroud
In 1948, the railways were nationalised and the Saloon became the Southern Region's DS291. It was repainted carmine and cream (also known as "blood and custard"), the then standard carriage livery (this being superseded in 1956). Because the coach saw relatively little use and was kept indoors, this livery lasted much longer on DS291 than it did on general service coaching stock.
DS291 in BR "blood and custard" livery at New Malden 1960
In November 1962 BR green livery was applied. Electric train heating was installed, thus making the vehicle dual-heated. The new heaters were located in the bodyside recesses into which the original LB&SCR sidelights dropped.
DS291 was withdrawn by BR in late 1964 or early 1965. The Bluebell Railway was allowed to negotiate a price directly, instead of being required to tender for the vehicle. It is understood that the reason for this was that in 1963, the last complete LB&SCR passenger carriage, having been withdrawn by BR and put into store on the Ardingly branch, was reserved for the Bluebell and marked accordingly. However, it was accidentally removed and converted into a car-carrying flat truck, the mistake being realised just too late to save the coach.
DS291 in BR green at Copyhold sidings awaiting transfer to Haywards Heath goods yard
The carriage was delivered to Haywards Heath goods yard by rail. On 4th. August, 1965, it was removed from its bogies and transferred to Sheffield Park by road.
DS291 being delivered at Sheffield Park
The Saloon was used as a refreshment or tea car on trains for a number of the early Bluebell years. It has not been used since falling due for mechanical maintenance work in 1978. Regrettably, the vehicle was allowed to deteriorate following its withdrawal. The roof covering is life expired and will need to be replaced. There is some damage to the ceiling and interior panelling, and repairs will be required to some of the external wooden mouldings. However, the timber body framing is believed to be relatively sound.
The aim is to restore this unique vehicle to, as close to its splendid LB&SCR condition as possible. Some £14,000 has been raised through low-key fundraising since 1978, but a project cost in excess of £100,000 has been estimated. The project must be independently funded and the Bluebell Railway Trust has agreed to assist with this. You may contribute via the Trust.
No. 60 now lives under a waterproof cover. As numerous components prevented restoration to original condition, the BR electric train heating was removed. The asbestos body insulation has been professionally removed. Repairs to/replacement of body panelling has been carried out and some of the SR sliding top-light windows have been removed and replaced by fixed, hardwood-framed sidelights.
Bogie Carriages of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway by David Gould;
published by The Oakwood Press (Series number X54), 1995 (ISBN 0853614709).
This may be available in the Bluebell Railway's Shop.