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British Railways Mk.I Open First
No.3064 (built in 1955)

Known as 'Ashdown' on the Bluebell's Lounge Car train


On arrival at SP - 6 November 2007 - Neil Glaskin

3064 after arrival at Sheffield Park, 6 November 2007
(Neil Glaskin)

3064 is the second of a batch of eight First Class Saloons (Nos.3063-3070, including No.3069 which is also on the Bluebell) ordered in May 1954. It was built at Doncaster Works and delivered to the Southern Region of British Railways in August 1955. It was painted in crimson lake and cream livery (also known as "carmine and cream" and "blood and custard"), was fitted with steam heating, vacuum braking and ran on BR1 bogies.

When new they were allocated to Clapham Junction depot in South London. Here they were reserved for boat train and other special traffic duties, principally the Ocean Liner Express services which were operated between Waterloo and Southampton docks to convey passengers to and from the passenger liners which at that time were still the normal method of long distance travel. Most of the shipping companies had a named train run in connection with their sailings - "The Statesman" (United States Lines), "Union-Castle Express"," Holland-American" and the "Springbok" are examples, but perhaps the most prestigious was "The Cunarder". This was an all-First-Class train composed mainly of Pullman cars, but usually with one or two Mk.I Ocean Liner saloons in its formation, which ran in connection with the sailings of the Cunard liners Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth on the Transatlantic service.

These were the days before the widespread availability of comfortable air travel. Piston-engined aircraft such as the Boeing Stratocruiser (operated by BOAC) could make the London to New York journey in 17 hours with refuelling stops. However, any self-respecting transatlantic traveller would choose the United States (built 1952 for the United States Lines and holder of the Blue Riband) or the two pre-war built Cunarders. It was only the emergence of the British-built, jet-engined Comet 4 airliner (BOAC) and Pan American's Boeing 707, with their 6-7 hour eastbound crossing inaugurated in 1958, that began tempting travellers in numbers away from the sea voyage.

It was BR(S) practice to allocate coaches to sets. However, these FO vehicles were generally "loose" (non-allocated), being used as required on Western Section/South Western Division boat train duties. 3064 managed a short "holiday" in the West Country in September 1960, when it became the principal passenger accommodation on the Surbiton - Okehampton Car Carrier - a forerunner of the fondly-remembered Motorail network of services to holiday destinations.

Interior - 6 November 2007 - Neil Glaskin Right: The interior, with seats appropriately trimmed in one of the "Festival of Britain" first-class moquettes (Neil Glaskin)

The significant service history of 3064 that we know to date, is as follows:

From the June 1963 through to the June 1965 timetable it is shown in set No.354 for Ocean Liner Boat Train duties. In June 1963 this 9 RB set comprised:

        BSK 35002  MkI
        FK   7621  Bulleid
        FK   7620  Bulleid
        FK   7623  Bulleid
        FO   3064  MkI
        RB (unspecified)
        SO   3918  MkI
        SO   3919  MkI
        BSK 35003  MkI

The Bulleid FK (First Corridor) coaches were withdrawn in March 1965.

The June 1965 formation shows set No.354 as an 8 set with no catering vehicle included:

        BSK 34257  MkI
        FK (unspecified)  MkI
        FK (unspecified)  MkI
        FK (unspecified)  MkI
        FO   3064  MkI
        SO   3918  MkI
        SO   3919  MkI
        BSK 34258  MkI

In June 1966 the coach was noted as "loose", and by July 1967, 3064 had been converted to air braking and electric heating but was still shown with BR1 bogies.

For the July 1967 - May 1968 timetable, 3064 (along with 3069) is shown allocated to 8-set No.61 for Ocean Liner duties, comprising:

        BCK 21265
        FO   3064
        FO   3065
        FO   3066
        FO   3067
        FO   3069
        FO   3070
        BCK 21266
NB. Our BCK, S 21271 was allocated to set No.64 at this time.

It was fitted with new lightweight B4 bogies at some point between May 1968 and April 1970.

In the May 1969 through to May 1974 timetables, it is shown in set No.55, which would have been used with others to form a complete train. The set comprised:

        BCK 21251
        FO   3064
        FO   3065
        FO   3069

May 1975 it was again shown as loose, but all the seven remaining FO vehicles are shown allocated to SWD (Ocean Liner) duties.

Later in 1975 No.3064 was withdrawn from passenger service and sent to Derby for conversion into an Engineer's coach (allocated as ADB975607 'CM&EE Test Car No.7', being given the TOPS code QXA), but this project was cancelled, and the coach lay derelict until purchased by VSOE (Venice-Simplon Orient Express) in 1987 as a source of spare parts for other vehicles.

Upon examination by VSOE, the body proved to be in very good condition, and thus it became the ideal candidate for restoration as a fourth saloon for the "Ocean Liner" set (see the web page for No.3069 for more details of this train). Some initial assessment work was carried out during 1997, only to be abruptly curtailed when the Ocean Liner service was terminated that year. Eventually the coach was sold into private ownership and stored until early in 2007, when full restoration to its original 1955 livery and interior decoration was undertaken.

For a decade it has operated as part of both of the Bluebell's main dining trains, the Lounge Car set (used for lunches and afternoon teas) and in addition to the Pullmans, on the "Golden Arrow" dining service, frequently being swapped between the sets several times a week. This additional shunting has been saved by the entry into Bluebell service of FO No.3069, enabling 3064 to be focussed (as originally planned) on the "Wealden Rambler" and "Sussex Belle" services.


Type: FO (First Open), Diagram 73
Built: 1955, at BR Doncaster Works (Lot 30169)
Original No: S3064
Seating: 42 1st class
Length: 64' 6" over body
Weight: 33 Tons
Withdrawn: 1975
Sold by BR: 1987
Owner: Private
To Bluebell: 6 November 2007 (on loan)
Details of the work undertaken to prepare the carriage to service are available in the Carriage & Wagon News pages.
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     (with acknowledgement of information taken from notes by Mark Brinton)
Photos: © Copyright Neil Glaskin
Last updated by Richard Salmon 2 December 2019 and 7 May 2020
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