The body and underframe of an LB&SCR Craven-era brake van was acquired by the Bluebell Railway in September 2008, when the old Pullman shed at Brighton was emptied for demolition. It had been stored there following the demise of the planned "Brighton Railway Museum". Prior to about 1980 the van had been in domestic use in West Sussex, where a porch was added to what is now its north end (present orientation on the Bluebell Railway).
Right: What is now the "east" side and "north" end of the van, seen here at Brighton on recovery from the Preston Park Pullman Car Shed (Trevor Stone)
This van carries the number "94" on the inside off-white painted upper panel of the north-west compartment door. Underlying darker paint indicates that the number was added at some date after the initial build. A list of brake vans surviving to 1873 indicates that a van numbered 94 was built in 1858. It has been suggested that those numbers represent a renumbering in 1873, along with those for goods brakes, but that has been disputed. 1858 is therefore considered a likely build date, assuming that No.94 was not a later departmental service or similar number.
Below: The number 94 on the interior (Dave Clarke)
The van lacks running, coupling and buffing gear. The hand brake gear had been removed simply by cutting away all timber to which it was attached (portions of underframe and structures within the guard's compartment are missing). The major part of the underframe and the sole bars remain in remarkably good condition but fittings such as crown plates and footboard hangers have gone. On the body the frame is largely intact aside from some damage to the south-west corner post, and many panel and door planks (tongue and groove) are missing or crudely replaced. The roof at the northern end is also missing. Three doors are missing (the guard's compartment doors from both sides, and the southern of the pair of double doors from the east side).
The number of lights in the lantern roof shown in the drawing follows vans of similar pattern in photographs, including that above (part of a view across Brighton yard, taken around 1871 - Lens of Sutton collection, with thanks to Jonathan Abson), showing a van of what appears to be the same design as No.94. The position of the lantern in the photo matches the absence of joints for roof hoops in the southern part of the missing section of roof on No.94. The arrangement and detail of body panels and doors is also the same comparing our carriage body and the photo.
There is a round fitting in the cant rail near the guard's doors, which is a brass "horn" similar to that used for communication cords between carriages; it is fitted to both sides of No.94 (photo above, Dave Clarke). It is suspected that it might have accommodated the Harrison cord system of communication.