Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864 at Horsted Keynes just prior to entering the shed to dry out before receiving its new tarpaulin (Dave Clarke - 20 May 2008)
Built to provide an at-seat dining service on the Southern's principal expresses, this coach would, in addition to serving its 24 first class passengers, have also served 56 in an adjacent third class saloon coach. Withdrawn upon the suspension of dining services towards the end of the second world war, upon reinstatement in 1947 it was one of four modified as buffet cars, meal service being provided to seated passengers in an adjacent composite (first and third class) dining saloon. In 1951 it was used on the Bournemouth-Newcastle service, in conjunction with dining saloon 7841 (1365), also preserved on the Bluebell.
It was purchased by the Bluebell to provide static catering at Sheffield Park station, and it served in this role, undergoing some modifications in the process, until 1981. It is now the subject of a fund-raising exercise to raise the money for its overhaul and restoration to use in its original form for our train of Maunsell coaches. The body is in extremely bad condition with much of the structure having been affected by rot, and the interior will have to be reconstructed almost from scratch.
The photo left shows what the interior of this coach would have looked like when built, and the photo below shows its current condition.
With enough funds raised over recent years to pay for the removal of asbestos, we now have a target of £100,000 to raise before the restoration of the coach itself can be commenced. If you would like to contribute a small regular amount to the fund raising, a Standing Order donation form is available to download from here in pdf format. Alternatively, if you wish to donate a larger sum under gift aid arrangements, this may be done through the Bluebell Railway Trust.
Reasons for restoring 7864 and potential uses:
- The last surviving Southern Railway catering vehicle.
- It would provide 24 unclassified Buffet Car/Dining Car seats.
- Originally first class, it could be used as such on Santa Specials.
- In the long term 7864 could run with Full Dining Saloon 7866 (1365) which would provide 64 third class dining seats. In the short term 1309 or 1336 could be used.
- A back up to Fingall for the Golden Arrow Dining Train.
- 7864 will provide a service between that offered by the Pullmans and RMBs.
- The Pantry could be adapted to form a buffet, serving into the transverse corridor.
- Ideal vehicle for use on cream teas, fish & chip supper type meal services. It could provide lunchtime meals from the kitchen and then serve afternoon teas from the pantry.
- Food could be prepared in the kitchen rather than beforehand in the Bessemer Arms; it would be fresher and might save on staff costs.
- Provide a mobile stand-by catering facility at Sheffield Park or Horsted Keynes if the permanent facilities require maintenance. It could also be temporarily stabled at Kingscote.
- Take some of the pressure off the Bessemer Arms.
- A flexible vehicle, which has a larger kitchen than Fingall as well as a pantry.
- The vehicle is Bluebell owned.
- It would form a key part of the Bluebell Railway's long-term plan for a Maunsell rake of coaches.
7864 is seen soon after arrival at Sheffield Park, on 18 March 1962 (Ian Nolan)
Type: Kitchen Buffet
Built: 1932 at Eastleigh (E635)
Original No: 7864
Other Nos: S7864S
Seating: 24 1st class, later 8 unclassed
Weight: 34 Tons
To Bluebell: 28/3/1962 (stated in Bluebell stock books, but must be earlier, since Ian Nolan's diaries record the date he took the above photo as 18 March 1962)
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