This is a very unusual 4-compartment brake third, 30-ft long, with a central brake compartment with raised birdcage lookout. It was later converted to a 2-compartment luggage brake, with short buffers for close coupling at the non-van end, in 1906-8. We believe it to be one of only four such carriages, built in 1877-8 (Nos.1887-90), and has yet to be definitively identified.
SER brake 3rd at Pagham on the day it was recovered. (Robert Hayward)
After rebuilding, all four such brake coaches were allocated to 14-coach sets for worksmen's trains, and were probably all withdrawn from service in 1926 (before receiving an SR number). This coach was sold without its wheels and underframe, to become part of a bungalow in Pagham, along with SER 6-compartment third No. 2159 (which we also recovered the same day). The carriage's structure is made of teak, and is considered to be eminently restorable, although there are no plans at present to do more than conserve the body for restoration at a future date. It has now been covered by a tarpaulin.
SER carriages are extremely rare in preservation, but the Bluebell now has a substantial collection of such vehicles. We also have a first-class saloon (No. 172) and the Gilbert Car, No. 33 (later named 'Constance'), plus the oddity, "hundred seater" No. 1050, rebuilt in 1924 from former SER carriage bodies as a prototype for 3rd-rail electric stock, but itself only ever being steam hauled.
Jon Goff's photo shows the two carriages from Pagham after being unloaded at Horsted Keynes on 20 December 2017.
This is the only SER guard's brake vehicle in preservation, and we would envisage it would be rebuilt back to its original condition with 2 passenger compartments on each side of the guard's van.
It will become part of our eventual train of LCDR/SER Victorian carriages, for which we already have three restored vehicles of LCDR origin, brake No. 114, semi-saloon conversion No. 3360, and full third No. 3188, along with brake third No. 48 (SECR 2781), and the two other SER 6-wheelers, which await restoration. The intention eventually is to present the train in Edwardian SECR livery to match our SECR steam locomotives. As home to 6 of the 8 surviving SECR locomotives, such a set of carriages is of huge importance to us.
Type: 4-compartment brake third, later rebuilt as 2-compartment luggage brake
Built: 1877 or 1878
Number: One of four, 1887-1890
Length: 30' over body, Width: 8' 4"
To Bluebell: 20 December 2017
Owner: Bluebell Railway Trust
Right: SER brake 3rd being recovered from Pagham (Robert Hayward)
Set allocations in the workmen's trains were:
No. 1887 - Set 395, condemned 1926
No. 1888 - Set 397
No. 1889 - Set 396
No. 1890 - Set 396
The latter 3 vehicles were probably also withdrawn in 1926, since other coaches in the same sets were.