Prior to 1956, the two main classes of accommodation on British Railways were first and third class. Second class accommodation was provided on Continental boat trains, reflecting the usage of three classes in Europe. The Southern Region (which served the ports of Dover, Folkestone and Newhaven) had some new BR Standard Mk.I Second Open coaches. However, these were to a distinctly different design (Diagram 90) and should not be confused with this one, where the first examples built in 1954 were designated as open thirds. In 1956, second class was abolished and third class was re-designated second.
The Diagram 94 open second class coach was only built for the London Midland Region of British Railways. It utilizes the same basic bodyshell as 64-seat open second coach 4957 but has 2+1 seating, giving a capacity of 48 seats with tables. The reason for the reduced capacity was principally to provide unclassified or improved quality, second-class restaurant car accommodation when coupled to a catering vehicle. These vehicles also provided more comfortable open seating on LMR Anglo-Scottish services. From early 1967, the designation TSO (Tourist Second Open) was adopted across BR for the more numerous 2+2 seating version such as 4941, to differentiate it from the 48-seat SO, with its 2+1 seating.
Above left: No.4824 is the first coach in Sir Archibald Sinclair's train on 1 August 2009 (Richard Salmon)
Below right: The interior of 4824, showing the 2+1 seating, and "Bournemouth Blue" moquette on the recently re-trimmed seats (Dave Clarke)
M4824 was not built in a British Railways workshop, but by independent builders The Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company. It was fitted with vacuum brake, dual (steam and electric) heating and ran on BR1 bogies with oil bearings. It would have been out-shopped in BR lined maroon livery.
The riding qualities of the BR1 bogie were poor at higher speeds and by 1974, 4824 had been fitted with lightweight B4 bogies with roller bearings and coil springing.
Due to water ingress problems later in their lives, many early Mark 1 coaches were fitted with heavy aluminium-framed sidelights which replaced the original flush glazing.
Although some of these coaches were later transferred to the Eastern Region, M4824 remained on the LMR. When BR's passenger business was "sectorised" 4824 was allocated to the Provincial business. It was based at Crewe in 1986 and Heaton (Newcastle) in 1988. During this period, Second became known as "Standard Class". In 1989 the coach became spare and was withdrawn in 1990, immediately entering preservation. It was latterly based on the Churnet Valley Railway in Staffordshire.
On Bluebell 4824 will perform a similar role to that for which it was originally designed. Together with Mk.I Open First No.3064, it will provide a distinctive "lounge car" service to upgrade our non-Pullman catering operation, but will, in operational terms, be used along-side our other general traffic vehicles and to provide better-quality seating on Santa trains. It now runs on B4 bogies.
Details of the work undertaken to prepare the carriage to service are available in the Carriage & Wagon News pages.
In August 2023 this carriage was withdrawn from service on the Bluebell and has now been sold.
Type: SO (Second Open), Diagram 94
Built: 1959, by the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company (Lot 30473)
Original No: M4824
Other Nos: 4824
Seating: 48 2nd class
Length: 64' 6" over body
To Bluebell: 25 June 2007
Owned by: Bluebell Railway 2007-2023
Left Bluebell Railway: 15 September 2023
See the Railway Heritage Register entry for this carriage.