On arrival at Sheffield Park (Ian Nolan - 4 February 1962)
This six-wheeled coach is an example of the many such vehicles which were built by all the railway companies in the last century. Unlike most of our coaches, it is built on a wooden, rather than metal, underframe. The six, wood-centered, wheels gave a more comfortable ride than the previous 4-wheeled type.
It was re-numbered by the Southern Railway as 3630 on 1st February 1927 at Ashford. Withdrawn on completion of the Sevenoaks electrification, it was condemned on 20 April 1935, but survived stripped of all internal fittings, becoming a departmental vehicle at Redbridge sleeper depot near Southampton. It has continued in departmental use on the Bluebell, initially as the tea-room for the Alf Brown Group. Age and weather have taken their toll, and it is now in very poor condition. It demonstrates well the need we have for a storage or exhibition shed, suitable to house such historic relics.
Suffering damage to its running gear in a shunting incident many years ago, the centre wheelset was chained up clear of the track. This started to cause stress to the underframe. During the late 1990s therefore the Alf Brown Group undertook a repair of the damaged hornguides to enable the centre wheelset to again take its share of the weight of the carriage, which is now stored under tarpaulins. It is considered that the vehicle, representing an early example of a departmental conversion, might be best preserved and displayed in that form, at least in the short to medium term. In the longer-term, restoration to take its place as the second brake vehicle in our LCDR/SECR train of 4- and 6-wheelers is however a feasible proposition.
Right: - No.48 as it was in the mid-1990s (Richard Salmon)
Type: 6-Wheel Brake Second (later Third)
Built: Longhedge*, 1894
Seating: Later 40 3rd
Length: 28' 4"
Original No: 48
Other Nos: SECR: 2781, SR: 3630, 873S, DS873
To Bluebell: 5/2/1962 (although Ian Nolan's diary entry would indicate earlier!)
* Longhedge carriage works was part of a complex built on the land of Long Hedge Farm, which was purchased by the LCDR in 1860. The works was opened in 1862, producing and repairing locomotives and carriages until this work was transferred to Ashford Works by the SECR. The main building of the carriage works was incorporated into an extended carriage shed for BR's Kent Coast Electrification scheme in the 1950's and continues in this use today.
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