Built as part of a six-coach dining set for the Waterloo to Bournemouth line, and completed just a month before nationalisation, these coaches were distinguished from other Bulleid designed coaches by the continuation of the bodyside sheeting down, covering the sole-bar, and the ends which were painted green rather than the normal black. It also differs from the later (BR built) Bulleid coaches by having shallower sliding lights (the opening parts of the main windows).
Surviving on BR in departmental service until 1980, with arrangements already in hand for its preservation on the Bluebell Railway it was acquired instead by the National Railway Museum, and placed on loan to the Bluebell. Unfortunately, its restoration could not be contemplated in the absence of a very long-term loan agreement, and with three other Bulleid open thirds in better condition on the Bluebell, plans for its restoration took a back seat. For some years it served as our varnishing workshop.
However, in the late 1990s the NRM carried out a re-appraisal of their collection, and concluded that the best course of action for the continued preservation of this coach was to transfer its ownership to the Bluebell, given both our track record, and the preservation of Bulleid open third No. 1469 within a museum context by the Vintage Carriages Trust.
Right: SR Bulleid open third No. 1456, as used as a varnishing shop on the Bluebell (Richard Salmon, March 1994)
It was not (despite appearances) in too bad condition, and was substantially complete, although it had been used as an office at Brighton, and later, St. Leonard's, and some fittings were stolen from it whilst in storage prior to transfer to the Bluebell. The major work expected at that time would have been the replacement of all the external steel sheeting and window frames, and the building of the missing seating units, in addition to any required timberwork repairs.
In 2012 the carriage was placed on a 25 year loan to the Mid Hants Railway. This is on the basis that we could not see that we'd get round to overhauling it in the following 25 years (given that we have another 4 Bulleids, 4279, 1481, 2515, and 4227, all awaiting major attention), but wish to retain a fourth (and our only original SR) Bulleid open third for the long term, since we consider we are likely to want it for Bluebell service as part of our collection over the very long term time-scale. The MHR were looking for a third vehicle to go with their two Bulleid brakes, and now have the retoration facilities to be able to undertake this sort of work. It is clearly also in the best interests of the coach that it be overhauled and used, rather than sitting unused on our sidings for 25 years.
A win-win-win situation for both railways, and the carriage itself. We also provided a replacement lower gangway housing for one end, which had been recovered from the burnt-out Bulleid Restaurant Car No. 7679 which had been "preserved" at Droxford in the mid 1960s. Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and PRISM, the overhaul undertaken by the Mid Hants Railway included the replacement of most of the original timber, both internal and external, and new seats to a modified design.