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British Railways Mk.I BCK No.21246

Mk.1 BCK 21246 during its test run - Martin Lawrence - 21 November 2018

Mk.I BCK 21246 during its test run on 21 November 2018 (Martin Lawrence)

Corridor Brake Composite 21246 was part of BR Lot 30669 (comprising Nos. 21236–21251) which was built for the London Midland Region. It is one of the very last carriages to be built at Swindon before the closure of the Carriage Works* in 1962. It was built to diagram 171 with 12 first-class seats and 18 second (the LMR seated three-a-side in second class, while the SR ones – diagram 172 – were four-a-side in second class). As built, it was mounted on Commonwealth (later BR Code BT43) bogies and was equipped with vacuum braking and dual (steam and electric) heating.

It was purchased by Bluebell Railway plc in early 2011 to enable the railway to offer first-class accommodation when operating a "core" four-coach set (which also has to include a buffet car, a 64-seat SO, a brake and wheelchair accommodation). It was allegedly at that time a currently serviceable vehicle, having been in main-line charter set BN94 until sold in September 2009. However, after it arrived, it became obvious that it needed more than just "a few repairs and a repaint"!

Over the five-year-plus period that 21246 has been inside the works, extensive structural repairs have been carried out to both ends, to the north-end corridor side and to body sheeting at various points. Some veneer was missing in the first-class compartments and this has been replaced.

The electric train heating (ETH) has been removed (if the under-seat heaters are mounted on asbestos sheeting, they have to be removed in order for asbestos removal to take place regardless of whether the intention is to reinstate ETH). The 24 volt carriage lighting has been rewired. This is now routine for a vehicle of this age, due to the high risk of the wiring insulation cracking and consequently failing.

During 2017 No.21246 was painted in BR(S) green prior to being given a bogie and brake overhaul, after which it finally entered Bluebell service, on the Santa Special trains in December 2018.

21246 is not envisaged as part of our heritage fleet. It remains a long-term aspiration to restore ex-BR(S) BCK No.21271, which is to diagram 172, and is designated a Bluebell "heritage" vehicle but is presently in storage at Kingscote.

seating plan

BR Diagram 171, which shows a BCK with three-a-side seating in both first and second class.

*The part of Swindon Carriage Works where 21246 was constructed was located on the down side, south of the GW main line, opposite the site of the Locomotive Works. This part of the works closed in 1962; but its main buildings, at least one of which is Grade 2 listed, survive in non-railway use.

Mk.1 BCK on arrival at Horsted Keynes - Tom Waghorn - 10 July 2011 Type: BCK (Brake Composite Corridor), Diagram 171 (later AB 301 1B)
Built: 1962, at BR Swindon Carriage Works (Lot 30669)
Seating: 12 1st class, 18 2nd class
Original No: M21246
Other No: 21246
Body Length: 64' 6"
Weight: 37 tons
Preserved: June 2011
To Bluebell: 7 July 2011

Right: Newly arrived, before its overhaul commenced. (Tom Waghorn)

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