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British Railways (LMR)
12-wheel First Class Sleeping Car (SLF) M398M

For Sale - please email Richard Salmon, < blog @ bluebell-railway . co . uk >
for more information.

398 negotiates Scaynes Hill on its way to the Bluebell - Tony Sullivan - 22 August 1974 M398M was purchased by a group of BRPS working members to provide overnight accommodation for themselves at Sheffield Park. The car was built at BR Wolverton Works to diagram 2166 and Lot No.1584 in 1952 and was a development of a LMS design which first appeared in 1935.

The 6-wheeled bogies were intended to give a smoother ride to the first class occupants. As built, it had 12 compartments with one bed and a wash basin in each. A toilet was provided at one end of the car and an attendant's compartment at the other. Steam heating (electric train heating was later added) and "Thermotank" pressure ventilation (which the LMS called "air conditioning") were fitted.

The photo on the right shows the coach as it negotiates Scaynes Hill on its way to the Bluebell. (Tony Sullivan - 22 August 1974)

M398M

Corridor side of SLF M398M in BR blue and grey livery at Horsted Keynes.
This is shortly after its arrival at Bluebell and its one and only journey to HK!
Late George Nickson collection

The car worked overnight services between London (Euston) and Scotland until being replaced by surplus Mark 1 cars. M398M was purchased from Cardiff (Canton) and was moved by rail to Haywards Heath. The lower footboards at each corner had to be removed to conform to SR clearances. As part of a large road movement job in August 1974, the coach was moved to Sheffield Park with body and bogies on separate transport by Hill's of Botley. SR CCT 2276 and a BR "Kings Cross" Mark 1 CL were brought across and a Caledonian Railway carriage left for Haywards Heath, en route to the SRPS as part of the same job.

M398M

Official November 1951 BR photo of compartment side of M386, another car from the same build. It wears
"blood and custard" livery. Note the absence of "M" suffix to the number,this being introduced when
Mark 1 coaches began to appear in quantity. With permission of NRM, Negative No. DY40380

Apart from one run to Horsted Keynes, the car has remained at Sheffield Park. Although it was moveable and kept watertight and reasonably presentable by its occupants, its role was purely functional and there is no intention to restore it to running order. Over the years gradual deterioration led to an attempt at repairs, but these came to nothing in the end, and being taken out of use in 2019, its function is being replaced by Mk.3 ex-Caledonian Sleepers.

Berth interior Berth interior

Left: Official photograph of the interior of a berth (probably in M386), looking from the corridor doorway. With permission of NRM, Negative No. DY40387
Right: Official photograph of the interior of the adjoining berth looking from window. With permission of NRM. Negative No. DY40386

Type: First Class Sleeping Car
Built: 1952 at Wolverton
Number: M398M
Passengers: 12 sleeping berths
Length: 69'
Weight: 47 Tons
Preserved: 1974
To Bluebell: 20/8/1974

Recommended reading:

LMS Coaches - An Illustrated History by D.Jenkinson and R.J.Essery;
published by The Oxford Publishing Company, 1977. Reprinted 1984. ISBN 902888 83 8

This book may be available from the Bluebell Railway's shop. If it is not available new, try the Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes for a used copy on your next visit.


Photos of its current condition (17 September 2020) - click on each photo for an enlargement.

398 - Richard Salmon - 17 September 2020 398 - Richard Salmon - 17 September 2020 398 - Richard Salmon - 17 September 2020
398 - Richard Salmon - 17 September 2020 398 - Richard Salmon - 17 September 2020

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© Photographs copyright BR/NRM, Tony Sullivan, George Nickson Collection and Richard Salmon
Page updated by Nick Beck, 1 January 2008, and Richard Salmon, 24 September 2020
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