The coach is 33 feet long, and would have been a 6-wheeler. It is one of four saloons, two constructed in 1893 and two in 1898, each comprising a first-class saloon and a first-class compartment, with a toilet at one end, and a servants' compartment (a coupé in ours) at the other. The servants' compartment was later converted to a luggage space, and finally (as evidenced by the end windows) a guard's brake. This coach and its partner (unlike the earlier pair, which were initially gas lit) were fitted with electric lights from new.
This carriage provides us with the first class accommodation for our eventual train of LCDR/SER Victorian carriages to run with the P-class locomotives, for which we already have four vehicles of LCDR origin, restored brake No. 114, semi-saloon conversion No. 3360, and full third No. 3188, plus brake third No. 48 (SECR 2781) which awaits restoration. These were joined in 2017 by two further SER carriage bodies, six-compartment third No. 2159 and a brake third. The intention eventually is to present the train in Edwardian SECR livery to match the locomotives.
Over the 2010 August bank holiday weekend, a team from the Carriage & Wagon Department, coordinated and led by Tony Clements, and comprising Dave Clarke, Paul Hailes, Robert MacMillan, Tom Simcock, David Chappell, Deborah & Richard Salmon, Ed Owen and Tony Silcock, released the saloon from the bungalow in Pagham of which it had been a part since the 1930s, and which was kindly donated by the owners who were redeveloping the site to the Bluebell Railway Trust. Thanks are also due to the Trust for funding the transport and a tarpaulin; it arrived at the Railway on Tuesday 31st August.
Dave Clarke's photos show this SER coach at Pagham, on the left the exterior before the external bathroom was detatched, and the rendering removed, and below, the interior of the saloon, looking towards the compartment (the original internal doors are still in place). David Chappell's two photos above and below show the carriage after arrival at Horsted Keynes. The missing end structure at the toilet end had been removed to make a longer room in the bungalow, but had been incorporated into the structure of the bungalow, so has been recovered for re-use in the eventual restoration. Later fitted with a high quality tarpaulin, the body is currently accommodated on the underframe of former SR Van C No. 442, and it is planned that it will be accommodated within the new OP4 storage shed until such time as its overhaul can be programmed.
Details of the recovery and further photos of the carriage are available thanks to Dave Clarke.