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Carriage Fleet Review - 3

Maunsell Coaches

This third article in the series considers those of our coaches designed by Richard Maunsell for the Southern Railway. These thirteen coaches could be described as "the core" of our collection. They are the coaches which were associated with many of our locomotives during their working lives, and they fall chronologically between the vintage, non-corridor stock, and the "modern" (i.e. post-war) Bulleid and Mk.1 stock. All are constructed with a wooden body with steel panelling over this. The main weakness in the design is that water ingress around the windows causes the bottom rail to split where the bolts through it rust. This problem is worse than in our older coaches since the quality of the timber originally used was not as good. The advantages of this stock from an operational viewpoint are that it is corridor stock, and have fewer doors per coach than the older stock.

Open Third No. 1309, (Built 1935)

Maunsell TO 1309 Restored to traffic from its previous derelict state, it won the C&W department the ARPS Coach of the Year Award in 1984. For a full account of its restoration see Bluebell News Vol.27 No.1. Initially reserved for use on the "Bluebell Cutler" dining trains, and subsequently used for the extension shuttle, this vehicle has since been in general service. After a decade of service, the coach was re-painted and the seating received a re-trim, as this was the one item not undertaken originally.

Now, after more than two decades of service it continues to perform as one of our most intensively used coaches, and is standing up to this remarkably well. If only the qualities of the design had been more fully appreciated at the time when No.1306 was raided for spare parts for the restoration of 1309 - we might have had two of these superb vehicles!

Open Third No. 1336, (Built 1933)

Maunsell coach 1336 - Dave Clarke - 16 March 2009 This "drop-light" open third was stripped internally in much the same way as No. 1309 had been prior to arrival. Enough of the correct pattern seating has obtained to enable an authentic restoration. Gangway connectors are also being re-instated. The restoration of this vehicle, partially financed by the Southern Railway Rolling Stock Fund, has taken about a decade, including a pause for a period whilst other vehicles had taken priority, and was completed for December 2008, with a final re-alunch in March 2009.

Thanks to the weakness whereby the droplights prevent the body from being watertight, the work has involved the replacement of a majority of the body timbers, starting from the bottom sides running the length of the vehicle. To achieve the required repairs, the entire body has been completely dismantled and re-assembled. It will thus be pretty-much the most extensive carriage overhaul yet undertaken by a heritage railway.

A separate web page features the overhaul of this carriage in detail.

Composite Dining Saloon / Open Third No. 1365

Maunsell TO 1365 (Built 1927, also carried numbers 7866, 6802 and 7841)

This coach, initially obtained to provide seating in the restaurant at Sheffield Park, was subsequently pressed into service on our trains for a number of years in the seventies. It now shelters under tarpaulins on the Ardingly spur, although extensive water penetration around and below the windows probably means that much of the body-side structure would need to be replaced at overhaul.

Corridor Third No. 2356 (Built 1931)

Maunsell TK 2356 Since the early eighties this restriction 1 (8'6" wide) coach was used as the C&W mess and electrical store, this area later housing the polishing shop. As such it was at least cared for. It was relieved of this duty in 2001 with the completion of the Carriage Works extension, and is now stored awaiting overhaul.

Its restoration is possible in the very long term, although a new interior would have to be constructed, along with an almost completely new body structure. It is unique as the only surviving steam-hauled SR corridor third.

Corridor Brake Third No. 3687 (Built 1931 for Hastings Line)

Maunsell Hastings BTK, under overhaul in 2003 This restriction 0 coach, only 8' wide, was purchased for spares a few years ago. David Wigley discovered however that its body structure was remarkably sound, although some repairs to the bottom rail would be required. He has put together a Sunday team and is undertaking its overhaul. Many internal components are already to hand on the railway. The body was lifted from the underframe which enabled the bottom rail repairs to be made. The underframe has been fully overhauled, including new steam heat and electrical systems, and is now re-united with the body, which has now received many patch repairs to its structure and new steel cladding.

A separate web page features the overhaul of this carriage in detail.

Corridor Brake Third No. 3724 (Built 1930)

Maunsell Brake Third 3724 This four compartment brake vehicle had been used in the Chipmans' weed-killer train, coming to the Bluebell only because No.5644 (below) was coming and Chipmans wanted to get rid of this vehicle at the same time. A proposal to use it (with its end windows) as the driving coach for the initial extension shuttle caused it to be stripped of its internal modifications, but nothing further came of this, and with its entirely open interior it found an ideal use as the C&W exhibition coach, in which role it remained until early 2005. Its long-term restoration to traffic might be considered as a coach for disabled passengers, since its large guard's area and low passenger capacity makes it an otherwise un-economic proposition. Wet rot is apparent in some door pillars, and the structure of the south end of the coach is also suspect.

Unclassed Brake No. 4441 (Built 1933)

Maunsell Brake 4441 The Maunsell restriction 1 'non-descript' or unclassed coaches were built for use on the South-Eastern Section boat trains, and could be allocated for first, second or third class as required by the passenger complement of the ship for which the train was run. Two of these coaches are in use on the Kent and East Sussex Railway, and very fine they look too. Used as the C&W stores coach, No. 4441 is rather more complete than its sister coach No. 4444, and was at one time considered to be a priority restoration project, to follow on after No.1336. It is thought that, due to damage sustained before arrival, it might have to exchange underframes with No. 4444.

Unclassed Brake No. 4444 (Built 1933)

Maunsell brake 4444 Substantially modified on several occasions, first as an army ambulance coach, then as the buffet for Sheffield Park prior to the building of the current facility, this coach then served as the Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes. Its roof, replaced due to dry-rot on arrival on the Bluebell, is now leaking again, and it is now stripped out internally, to control the recurrence of the rot. Its long term future is seen as a donor of spare parts to No. 4441.

Travelling Post Office No. 4922 (Built 1939)

TPO 4922 This interesting vehicle, with its Post Office off-centre gangways and complete interior, was an unfortunate casualty of the "paint won't stick to galvanising" saga in the early eighties, and has consequently not been used in demonstration trains since then. With further deterioriation in the last decade, a substantial amount of structural work would be required to put it back into use, although as a non-passenger vehicle this has a low priority. If a good alternative home were forthcoming, this could give the vehicle a better future.

Corridor Composite No. 5644 (Built 1930)

Maunsell CK 5644 This vehicle had been thought to have a very sound body structure, and as such was an early candidate for reconstruction. To help preserve it the roof has been recovered in roofing felt by a visiting scout group. Unfortunately it was found that its previous roof covering, applied whilst in use as an office at Sheffield Park, had cracked, letting water in and then trapping it. The south end of the coach appears in good condition, the cant-rails are soggy along the entire length, but the worst discovery was of extensive dry rot affecting much of the north end and one compartment in the centre of the coach. It is however considered one of the core gems of the collection of Maunsell coaches, with considerable will to see its restoration programmed at some stage.

Corridor Brake Composite No. 6575 (Built 1929)

Maunsell BCK 6575 One of the Bluebell's first two coaches, arriving in 1960, and the recipient of a heavy overhaul between 1979 and 1982, (see Bluebell News Vol.25 No.1). It was turned so that the brake end faced North for the initial extension shuttle service. In early 1996 it received repairs to the roof canvas, the large corridor side windows were re-bedded, and an area of dry rot was stripped out of the corridor wall. This has been followed by a full repaint, and No.6575 then continued to give sterling service until 2001. It now awaits a fairly major overhaul, particularly at the brake end, which had less work done on it originally.

Corridor Brake Composite No. 6686 (Built 1935)

Maunsell BCK 6686 To maintain the Maunsell brakes as a "pair" this vehicle was also turned at the same time as No. 6575. After about 15 years in service on the Bluebell, it was withdrawn for a complete structural overhaul in 1988. The interior has been completely stripped out, refurbished, and was replaced following the completion of the structural repairs to the ends, the sides and the doors. The complete bottom-side timbers, running the entire length of the coach, were replaced. All the external steel sheeting has also been replaced, and the coach re-entered service in April 1997.

Kitchen Buffet No. 7864 (Built 1932)

Interior of Maunsell Restaurant Car as built Left: The interior of a Maunsell Restaurant Car, as it was prior to rebuilding in 1947 as a Buffet Car.

Used for many years as the first Sheffield Park Buffet, this coach, substantially modified and devoid of its original interior, and suffering from having sat unused for the two decades, is unfortunately a shadow of its former self.

Maunsell Buffet Car 7864 Right: The Maunsell Buffet Car, in storage at Horsted Keynes in 1986.

Its restoration was considered a decade ago by a group of volunteers involved in on-train catering, but nothing came of that; as an important and potentially useful carriage, it is certainly on the "must do" list of eventual restorations. Whilst the bottom-side has given way, the main body structure of the coach is actually in better condition than several of the others above.

Money towards its overhaul has been collected over many years, but in 2008 this stepped up a gear, and enough money is now to hand to pay for the asbestos to be stripped by a suitable contractor.

In addition, we have a spare Maunsell underframe from coach No. 3725, and several spare bogies, many obtained from car-carriers which had been converted from the underframes of Maunsell-period coaches.

On to the next article in this series.

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