The South-Eastern line to Hastings was, until 1986, very restricted as to the width of stock it could take. This was due to a contractor skimping on the thickness of tunnel walls, which subsequently had to be reinforced, reducing the size of the tunnel. This coach was therefore built to the very narrow width of 8' 3/4". It continued in use on London to Hastings (via Tonbridge) services for its entire main-line career, being repainted into Crimson and Cream early in BR days, reverting to Green in the later `50s. In 1952 its interior was rebuilt to then current BR standards, also being externally modified in having its toilet window moved.
In 1960 the three-coach set of which it was a part was reformed with less first-class seating. It was, by then, one of only two sets used, for a single daily steam-hauled service, the 5.45am London Bridge to Hastings, continuing to Ashford, then Tonbridge, and empty back to London. It was withdrawn just a year later. On conversion (nominally as a departmental service vehicle, but actually for government use), as an emergency control train office, it was extensively modified, although retaining some internal partitions. From February 1981 onwards it returned to railway use, and became an Internal User vehicle, becoming an Instruction Coach for London Fire Brigade training at Stewarts Lane depot.
Brought to the Bluebell a decade later to be dismantled for spares, it was discovered that its body structure was remarkably sound, although some repairs to the bottom-side structural members would be required. A volunteer team decided to tackle its restoration. Many internal components are already to hand on the railway, and the underframe and bogies have been stripped and repainted, whilst the body was lifted from the underframe to enable the bottom-side repairs to be made. With structural woodwork repairs completed, and new steel sheeting fitted externally, work carries on towards the eventual return to traffic of this vehicle.
Go to the page for the latest news of this coach's overhaul
Type: Corridor Brake Third
Built: 1931 at Eastleigh (E498)
Original No: 3687
Other Nos: S3687S, DS 70160, 083409
Seating: 36 3rd class
Weight: 32 Tons
To Bluebell: 13/5/1992
Right: The end of the carriage, illustrating the slab-sided nature of the Restriction 0 profile. It had arrived on the Bluebell the month before this photo was taken (28 June 1992, Richard Salmon)
Emergency Control Trains (Mobile Communication Centres)
In 1962 two three-coach sets for 'Emergency Control Trains' were made up from Maunsell stock, numbered DS70159-61 and DS70162-4; they were for Government use to tap into the telephone system in the event of a nuclear attack and were supposedly 'hidden', the first at Tunbridge Wells and the second at Wimbledon and later Faversham. When the Ministry released them in 1981 it stated that they could be taken over by preservation societies, but in fact all were re-used by BR.
(Above notes taken from 'Service Stock of the Southern Railway' by R.W.Kidner, Oakwood Press 1993)
By virtue of their narrow (Restriction 0) width, they could go virtually anywhere on the railway system, so were ideal for this purpose.
Summary of the six vehicles:
DS70159 - former Maunsell Rest.0 Brake 3rd No.3680 (Body dismantled for spare parts for overhaul of 3687. Underframe survived for a further period but now scrapped)
DS70160 - former Maunsell Rest.0 Brake 3rd No.3687 (this vehicle)
DS70161 - former Maunsell Rest.0 Composite No.5599 (Scrapped - Vic Berry, Leicester 1/91)
DS70162 - former Maunsell Rest.0 Composite No.5601 (Scrapped - Vic Berry, Leicester 8/87)
DS70163 - former Maunsell Rest.0 Brake 3rd No.3690 (Rother Valley Railway)
DS70164 - former Maunsell Rest.0 Brake 3rd No.3691 (Scrapped - Chesterton Junction 5/00)