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South Eastern & Chatham Railway
"Birdcage" 2nd/3rd Lav Brake No. 1084
(built in 1910), later Southern Railway No. 3363

Birdcage Brake 3363 behind 32655 on a photo charter - David Haggar - 16 April 2012

Birdcage Brake 3363 behind 32655 on a photo charter on 16 April 2012 (David Haggar)

HRA Coach of the Year award 2015 This coach, with its distinctive raised guard's lookout, called a birdcage, was built as a 2nd/3rd composite, later becoming all-third. There were two lavatories, one accessible from one of the two second class compartments, and the other from one of the four third class compartments. The body style is known as "Ashford Gothic", having the waist mouldings and the bottoms of the windows in the square, Chatham, style, but the eaves and tops of the windows in the rounded, South-Eastern style.

It had been thought that this coach had been built by Metropolitan Amalgamated Railway Carriage & Wagon Co., at Saltley, Birmingham, but evidence that it had carried an Ashford rather than a Met worksplate lead us to undertake further research. This was confirmed when the chairman of the The South Eastern & Chatham Railway Society supplied a copy of a document, based on an old carriage construction register at Brighton, transcribed by the late Denis Cullam in the 1950s indicating that it was indeed built by the SECR themselves. In addition, the SECR order book contains an entry for these six vehicles, dated 21/4/09 and initialled HSW (i.e. Harry S Wainwright), including the instruction "build at Ashford".

DS22 at Stewarts Lane - 31 January 1977 - Bob Wallace At least some of this batch of six coaches were intended for services from Dorking to London Cannon Street (via Redhill). It appears that No.1084 was not initially attached to a specific "set" of coaches. However, in 1917 it was formed, with 50' composite No.1063 and 5-compartment third brake No. 840, into "Trio 'D' Set" No. 128. After the grouping, this set was increased to 7 or 8 coaches, and re-numbered as Southern Railway Set 699. No.1084 was renumbered 3363 in January 1928, at which time it was probably also repainted into Southern olive green. Documents from Lancing Works (with thanks to Frank Davis and Glen Woods) show it was part of Set 901 at the time of a repaint dated 16 July 1932. Whether at this time, or a subsequent re-paint, evidence on the body noted during restoration showed that the carriage carried just yellow lining around the edge of the mouldings (without the black shading which was the norm for newer coaches) with the olive green.

It remained as part of 'long' set No. 901 until 1952, and on 24 May that year Lancing was notified by the office at London Bridge that it had been transferred to long set No.917, of which it remained a part until withdrawal in 1954.

After withdrawal from service it was partially stripped internally and converted to a Gauge Template Vehicle, DS 22, recorded as occuring in the week ending 26 June 1954. In this form it had wooden spikes protruding from the body to enable measurements to be made of the clearances through bridges and tunnels. It was later fitted with a generator in one compartment, which involved plating over the interior and fitting louvres in place of the windows.

The photograph above/left, reproduced courtesy of Bob Wallace, shows it in departmental condition at Stewarts Lane in January 1977.

DS22 at Wittersham Road, May 1998 the Birdcage Brake 3363 in the carriage works - David Chappell - 25 Mar 2009

Birdcage re-united with overhauled underframe, Oct 2006 - Dave Clarke Left above: DS22 photographed in May 1998 at Wittersham Road just prior to its removal to Robertsbridge, and 18 months before its arrival on the Bluebell Railway (Jeremy Ovenden)
Right above: In the works, restoration nearing completion - March 2009 (David Chappell)

The photo on the right (from Dave Clarke) shows the coach, with the structural repairs completed, re-united with its overhauled underframe, on 1st October 2006.

Initially preserved, from 1978, on the Kent and East Sussex Railway, and subsequently at Robertsbridge, it was bought for restoration to traffic by Bluebell C&W member Trevor Rapley, and moved to Horsted Keynes. Restoration work started immediately, although the magnitude of the task can be judged by the time taken! You can follow the detail of the coach's overhaul on the C&W News pages.

Trevor's intention was to restore the vehicle initially as Southern Railway 3363, in lined olive green, to match the two SECR "hundred seaters" and the LBSCR First, No.7598 the restoration of which Trevor also led, as a representation of SR "Long Set" No. 901. When the Railway's other two Birdcage Brakes are restored, it might then be possible for our 60' brake No. 1170 to take the place of 3363, which might then be returned to SECR livery, as 3363 is the correct length of vehicle to match our other "Ashford Gothic" 50' Birdcage Brake, No. 1061 on the other end of a "Trio" set.

Following comprehensive overhaul, including the fitting of a new axle to one of the wooden-centred "Mansell" wheels, the carriage re-entered service on 22nd October 2011. As restored to its SR condition, when the two second-class compartments were downgraded to 3rd, and these compartments are restored to that condition, so whilst retaining the extra leg-room, panelled ceiling, seat-end arm-rests, and beautiful mahogany internal woodwork, the bench seats have the increased seating capacity of 5-per-side rather than the original 4-per-side that was the case when it was second class.

At the Heritage Railway Association meeting in November 2015, Trevor Rapley was presented with the Heritage Railway Association's 2015 Carriage & Wagon Awards "Best Coach" award for the restoration of No. 3363.

Birdcage Brake 3363 enters service after overhaul - Richard Salmon - 22 October 2011

Type: Lavatory Composite Birdcage Brake (later Brake Third)
Built: 11 April 1910 by SECR at Ashford.
Original No: 1084
Other Nos: SR: 3363, S3363S, DS 22
Seating: 15 2nd, 38 3rd (later: 56 3rd)
Length: 50' 1"
Original Tare Weight: 28 tons 1 cwt 2 q
Withdrawn: 1954, and converted to Gauge Template Vehicle
Preserved: 1978
To Bluebell: 19 October 1999
Re-entered service: 22 October 2011
Owned by Trevor Rapley.

Right: Birdcage Brake No. 3363 enters service after overhaul on 22 October 2011 (Richard Salmon)

See also full details of the coach's overhaul on the C&W News pages,
Alex Morley's photos of the coach's return to service
and Dave Clarke's comprehensive set of photos covering the restoration.
splash The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service
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