114 on the day of its return to service after overhaul - 4 November 2006
Known as "the Bungalow", the body of this coach sat inside the shed at Horsted Keynes for twenty years, waiting for restoration to start. The following details from the LCDR and SECR carriage registers have been kindly provided by David Gould of East Grinstead:
Built 30.1.1889 as Second Brake No 106, the body measured 26' x 8' (9' over duckets) x 6'10", having 30 seats in 3 compartments. As built the wheel-base was 15', and it had long buffers and Westinghouse brakes. It was converted to Brake 3rd No.114, and fitted with short buffers for close-coupling, the change being dated 14.1.1891. Renumbered on 22.7.1899 as 548 in the LCDR continuous number series, and again by the SECR as 3068 when electric lighting was fitted on 30/11/1903. Close-coupling and Westinghouse brakes were retained, apparently until withdrawal.
After withdrawal, like many other such carriage bodies, it was sold, without its underframe, for use as a domestic dwelling. Newspapers dated 1926 were found under the lino, which ties in well with the second withdrawal date of 1925, and its use on hop-pickers specials also explains why the coach was painted an unusual shade of green. It ended its days as part of a petrol station before being recovered (photo Left by Phil Starnes) and brought to Bluebell in 1977. The last number it carried, 3068, is clearly visible under the paint on one side. It also retains the unusual LCDR pattern of guard's duckets (lookouts) at the end.
The story and photos of the recovery operation are here.
Structurally very sound, but requiring reconstruction of the brake doors and interior, restoration commenced in late 1998. A small team of
volunteers are tackling the project, with funding (a total of only about £8,000 being required) provided by the
Bluebell Railway Trust. The few structural repairs required were completed early, and a start made on
re-panelling the exterior where required. The first major work was to replace the picture window cut in the end with structural members as
originally designed (as in the photo below). The roof timbers have been removed, and re-fixed with new stainless steel screws, with the
oak roof-hoops steamed and bent back to the original profile. A suitable Southern Railway PLV underframe has been modified in a similar
way to that used for Stroudley coach 661, by cutting a section out of the end, and re-positionning the wheels, brake-gear and internal
The restoration was to its 1891 condition as Brake 3rd No.114, complete with reproduction oil-lamp chimneys (although with electric lighting fitted internally, as it had later), in the varnished LCDR livery. The coach re-entered service after 81 years out of use, on 4th November 2006, as seen above.
This coach has now been joined by another identical LCDR brake, now rebuilt as a semi-saloon with wheelchair access, No.3360, )which had been recovered from a bungalow in 2003), full third No.3188 (acquired in 2005, the restoration of which started in 2011), six-wheeled Brake Third No.48 (a long-term Bluebell resident, acquired out of departmental service in 1962, and still on its original 6-wheeled underframe), and SER First Saloon No.172, to form a complete train of LCDR/SER vehicles in SECR livery to match our SECR locomotives.
Another identical coach from the same batch, No 3059, survives on the K&ESR, as does another body, and others are known still to be extant in their "bungalows".
Also available: a web page for the overhaul of this coach, including more photos of its return to service, and the recovery operation which brought it to the line in 1977.
* Longhedge carriage works was part of a complex built on the land of Long Hedge Farm, which was purchased by the LCDR in 1860. The works was opened in 1862, producing and repairing locomotives and carriages until this work was transferred to Ashford Works by the SECR. The main building of the carriage works was incorporated into an extended carriage shed for BR's Kent Coast Electrification scheme in the 1950's and continues in this use today.