Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864, built in 1932
Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864 at Horsted Keynes just prior to entering the shed
to dry out before receiving its new tarpaulin (Dave Clarke - 20 May 2008)
Built to provide an at-seat dining service on the Southern's principal expresses, this coach would, in addition to serving its 24 first class passengers, have also served 56 in an adjacent third class saloon coach. Withdrawn upon the suspension of dining services towards the end of the second world war, upon reinstatement in 1947 it was one of four modified as buffet cars, meal service being provided to seated passengers in an adjacent composite (first and third class) dining saloon. In 1951 it was used on the Bournemouth-Newcastle service, in conjunction with dining saloon 7841 (1365), also preserved on the Bluebell.
It was purchased by the Bluebell in 1962 to provide static catering at Sheffield Park station, and it served in this role, undergoing some modifications in the process, until 1981. It is now the subject of a fund-raising exercise to raise the money for its overhaul and restoration to use in its original form for our train of Maunsell coaches. The body is in extremely bad condition with much of the structure having been affected by rot, and the interior will have to be reconstructed almost from scratch.
The photo above left shows what the interior of this coach would have looked like when built, and the photo below shows its current condition.
Fund Raising for restoration
A group of members within the Carriage & Wagon Department have raised around £70,000 so far towards the restoration of this carriage, with a target of £100,000 before work starts.
Funds are raised via a fundraising stall, the sale of postacards and home-made jams and Chutneys, within the C&W Works viewing area at Horsted Keynes, through our Football competition and by various other activities. If you wish to donate with Gift Aid, or to contribute a small regular amount to the fund raising, a Donation and Standing Order form is available to download from here in pdf format.
There is a team of people committed to the restoration of this coach, once other projects in the C&W works with which they are involved have been completed and there is space in the works to undertake the project. If more money is raised, then more of the work can be contracted out, speeding up the rebuild.
Reasons for restoring 7864 and potential uses:
- The last surviving Southern Railway catering vehicle.
- It would provide 24 unclassified Buffet Car/Dining Car seats.
- Originally first class, it could be used as such on Santa Specials.
- In the long term 7864 could run with Full Dining Saloon 7841 (1365) which would provide 64 third class dining seats. In the short term 1309 or 1336 could be used.
- A back up to Fingall for the Golden Arrow Dining Train.
- 7864 will provide a service between that offered by the Pullmans and RMBs.
- The Pantry could be adapted to form a buffet, serving into the transverse corridor.
- Ideal vehicle for use on cream teas, fish & chip supper type meal services. It could provide lunchtime meals from the kitchen and then serve afternoon teas from the pantry.
- Food could be prepared in the kitchen rather than beforehand in the Bessemer Arms; it would be fresher and might save on staff costs.
- Provide a mobile stand-by catering facility at Sheffield Park or Horsted Keynes if the permanent facilities require maintenance. It could also be temporarily stabled at Kingscote.
- Take some of the pressure off the Bessemer Arms.
- A flexible vehicle, which has a larger kitchen than Fingall as well as a pantry.
- The vehicle is Bluebell owned.
- It forms a key part of the Bluebell Railway's long-term plan for a Maunsell rake of coaches.
7864 is seen soon after arrival at Sheffield Park, on 18 March 1962 (Ian Nolan)
Type: Kitchen Buffet (Diagram 2656)
Built: 1932 at Eastleigh (E635)
Original No: 7864
Other Nos: S7864S
Seating: 24 1st class, later 8 unclassed
Weight: 34 Tons
Withdrawn: 27 January 1962
To Bluebell: 18 or 28 March 1962*
Photo: 7864's Buffet Counter, in use at Sheffield Park, 1962 (Ken Chown)
* 28/3/1962 is stated as the arrival date in Bluebell stock books, but might be earlier, since Ian Nolan's diaries record the date he took the above photo as 18 March 1962. Certainly the Buffet was fully up and running to cater for the guests from 1247's incoming "Blue Belle" railtour from London Bridge on 1st April 1962, which tends to favour the earlier arrival date. In the March 1962 Bluebell News it had been stated that it was expected at the end of February.
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© Copyright April 1995 and May 2009 by Richard Salmon, photos by Dave Clarke, Ken Chown and Ian Nolan.
Last updated by Richard Salmon, 31 January 2018
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