This is an unusual Stroudley carriage, in that, having been built just after Stroudley died, it is a late vehicle and incorporates some design features which are normally associated with Billinton carriages, such as the external quarter-light (window) frames. That is to say, on what is normally considered a "Stroudley" design, the external frames are an integral part of the body structure, and the glass is fitted from the inside, whereas the "Billinton design" has the glass fitted from the outside, secured with an external moulding.
This coach body was recovered on 13th October 2000 from within a domestic dwelling at Shoreham Beach where it had been since the early years of the 20th century. Known on the Bluebell as "Betty" after the lady who lived in it, whose daughter facilitated our acquisition of the carriage when the property was being redeveloped, it was the type of coach body, an ordinary passenger carriage with high seating capacity, for which we had been looking for some years. Transport of the carriage to the Bluebell was kindly sponsored by Harveys Brewery of Lewes.
It still had on one side many remnants of the last livery carried in service, LBSCR dark umber, but with simplified lining (as seen in Ian White's photo on the left) which we assume to be an economy measure at the time of The Great War (WW1), and in view of this livery variation being relatively rare, it is planned to restore the coach to this livery.
It latterly ran in "No 4 EX Train" - this was one of three sets, each of 16 loose-coupled Stroudley carriages listed in a formation plan of February 1918, seating 700 third-class and just 32 first-class passengers. The meaning of "EX" is currently a matter of conjecture, and could refer to extra sets, or other special use such as military or civil contingency.
In common with other similar LBSCR carriages, the body-side was originally finished as varnished mahogany, but the ends were painted, and thus could be constructed of any timber - in the case of this carriage, somewhat unusually (that statement based on evidence from our other carriages), the end structure is of Douglas fir (for comparison for example, the ends of Nos.949 and 661 are made from teak).
The carriage was originally lit by three oil lamps (but without the previous tall chimneys on the roof), with the outer pair of compartments at each end sharing one lamp via a cut-out in the top of the partition. These were later removed, the gaps in the partitions plugged, and replaced by five gas lamps, one per compartment. The restoration will present the carriage in this later form, although using LEDs within gas mantles, to represent the gas-lit form.
Together with our Stroudley First, No.661 and the two brakes No.725 and No.949, and the more recently acquired Third No.992, it will help us to form a complete LBSCR train dating from the same period as our two Terriers, also designed by William Stroudley.
An underframe, from a Southern Railway PLV (Passenger Luggage Van), was obtained and has been shortened to carry this body. Restoration work commenced in 2010, being undertaken by volunteers and funded through the Bluebell Stroudley Coach Fund, and can be followed in Dave Clarke's web pages. It has involved the body being completely dismantled, and the surviving body sections being rebuilt on completely new bottom sides and ends. Only two body sections have needed to be replaced, one being where the body section had been cut out to extend the kitchen space.
Type: 4-wheeled Main-line Third (Diagram 44/145)
Seating: 50 3rd class
Weight: Original: 8 Tons 10 cwt
Withdrawn: May 1918
To Bluebell: 13/10/2000
Underframe: modified, ex PLV (PMV) 1536 (DB 977183)
Owner: Bluebell Railway Trust
Overhaul commenced: 2010 - Dave Clarke's overhaul record
See also Ian White's notes, photos and drawings of this carriage. There is much more detail available in "LB&SCR Carriages", Volumes 1 & 2 by Ian White, Simon Turner and Sheina Foulkes (Kestrel Railway Books, 2014 and 2016).
The photo on the right shows the carriage as initially stored under a tarpaulin after arrival at the Bluebell, with the tarpaulin lifted to enable visitors to view the carriage on a special open weekend.