This coach entered service on Saturday 24 July 2004, having been restored very much to its original condition, as far as the body is concerned, after many decades as part of a bungalow. The new underframe now carrying the body is a shortened and modified SR Van U underframe. The coach is seen above on the day of its launch, with Stroudley Terrier, Fenchurch, and to the right in undercoat, during shunting by LSWR Loco "Normandy" in January 2002.
Originally a six-wheeled four-compartment first class coach, designed by William Stroudley, it was rebuilt as a brake second in June 1909, ending up as a brake third before withdrawal in 1924. It was subsequently incorporated into a bungalow at Bracklesham Bay, until this was demolished, the remains of the coach being offered to the Bluebell.
The photo (left) shows it at an early stage in its restoration. It is seen on a temporary "Tube" wagon underframe, with the door pillar moved back from its brake position (when it had double doors) to its original position, and with the remaining structure partially converted back to original form. The brake-end windows are still in place here, but have subsequently been removed.
Restoration to traffic condition has included the conversion of the brake end back to a passenger compartment, as originally built. The coach is in the ownership of the Bluebell Railway Trust, who have funded the costs restoration, with the work being undertaken by a small team of volunteers, led by Sheina and John Foulkes.
Eventually it will be joined by Stroudley Thirds No.328 and No.992 and Brake Thirds No.949 and No.725, and, together with one of our Stroudley Terriers, these will be able to form the oldest standard gauge train in the country.
Type: First (Diagram 37/44) / Brake 2nd (Rebuilt 1909, Diagram 37D/149) / Brake 3rd (June 1912)
Built: (Brown Marshall) November 1880
Seating: 24 1st (later 30 3rd)
Length: 28' 4"
Original Weight: 10 tons 8 cwt
Original No: 661
Other Nos: 262, 1648
Withdrawn: 14 June 1924
To Bluebell: 1983
Underframe: modified, ex Van U (CCT) 2216 (DS 70140)
Entered Bluebell service: 24 July 2004
Owner: Bluebell Railway Trust
Note that, at one time, it was erroniously thought to have been carriage No.667, but components on the coach have been discovered marked 661, confirming its identity, and this has also been checked against surviving LBSCR carriage registers in the Public Records Office.
Go to the page with details of this coach's overhaul
Further Reading: LB&SCR Carriages, Volumes 1 & 2, Ian White, Simon Turner and Sheina Foulkes, Kestrel Railway Books, 2014 & 2016.