About The Coach:
1520 is the only surviving member of its type, and was built in 1910 as one of 74 such vehicles. They had two unusual features, being fitted with two lavatories per coach, a rare facility in those days, and a luggage section which formed half the length of the coach. This latter feature was intended to accommodate the baggage of ocean-liner passengers using the LSWR's "Ocean Liner Expresses" from Waterloo to Plymouth and Southampton, as well as the Boat Trains for the Cross-Channel services operating from Weymouth, Southampton and Portsmouth. On these trains they were hauled at speeds of up to 90 mph by locos such as the LSWR's famous T9 "Greyhound" 4-4-0s.
1520 remained in service until 1938, when the Southern Railway were about to break it up, until they realised it was needed for war service. As a result, the coach remained in traffic for a further ten years, before being partially gutted and converted to become a Breakdown Train Crew and Support Vehicle, mostly based at Hither Green. It was withdrawn in 1968 and sold to the M.N.L.P.S., owners of 35028 "Clan Line", from whom the Bluebell Railway purchased it in 1977.
When complete, the railway intended to run 1520 in one of its existing vintage rakes, which already comprises two SECR 100-seaters, and the 1903-built LBSCR first-class coach. The guard's duckets (projecting side look-outs) fitted to 1520 will add an extra feature of interest in this formation. In practice, it and the SECR birdcage Brake have replaced one of the hunderd seaters and the Southern Luggage Van, to create what is now known as "The Edwardian Train".
Click here for further details of this carriage's history.
At the start of the project funds were raised for the purchase a large quantity of French oak and steady progress followed in machining this timber for replacement bottom rails and repairs to the framework of the wooden body. The brake van area was in the worst condition, with all the main structural timbers requiring replacement. The East side and South end of the Brake van area were replaced in 1998, and the West-side of the brake-end was structurally completed in February 1999.
Progressively though the following two years the remainder of the body structure, incuding the guard's duckets (lookouts) was removed, repaired, and replaced, jointed into the new bottom side members. The coach came into the Carriage Works in the spring of 2002 thanks to space made available by the opening of the Carriage Works Extension. In mid 2003 it was given occupation of space in the main work area, in view of the good progress being made by the volunteer team working on the coach, which was now viewed as an important addition to the Vintage Branchline train.
The project was completed in March 2010, in time for its centenary, as seen in Andrew Strongitharm's photo of the re-launch special.
See also the Web Page for this coach's history, and the page with full details its overhaul.
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