Photo: Mike Tarran Feb 2011
Southern Railway number 3554
British Railways number S 3554 S
Date built July 1924
Length 65' 3" (19.900 m)
Width 8' 11" (2.730 m)
Weight 33 tons (33.5 tonnes)
Internal layout: Compartments with a side corridor
CURRENT STATUS: In the museum at Ingrow.
Although often referred to as the "Chatham" coach this vehicle was actually built for the newly formed Southern Railway by the Metropolitan Carriage, Wagon & Finance Company of Birmingham. In design, however, it is almost identical to vehicles built by the South Eastern & Chatham Railway for Boat Train traffic to and from the London Termini and Dover or Folkestone. As befitted this prestigious traffic the vehicle is well appointed, even though Third Class, with spacious vestibules (for easy maneuvering of baggage) comfortable seats, ample luggage racks and coat hooks, Pullman type gangways and bi-lingual notices. Originally the doors opened inwards, but were re-hung to open outwards in 1947-48.
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This is one of only two surviving SE&CR "matchboard" carriages of its type, so called because of the distinctive vertical panelling below the waistrail. It survived in regular traffic until July 1961 when the fleet was withdrawn following electrification of the route. After withdrawal it was stored at Ardingly, Sussex. It was purchased for £ 250 in July 1962 by Mr. Roy Edwards for use on the proposed Westerham Valley Railway preservation scheme. This failed to materialise and instead the coach came to the Worth Valley Railway, being delivered by rail to Keighley in January 1965. The carriage was moved from Keighley to Haworth on 6th March 1965. It was used as part of the Worth Valley Railway's Re-Opening train on 29th June 1968, ownership of the carriage transferring to the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway Preservation Society.
Several years later the railway had acquired more modern vehicles and 3554 was purchased by the Vintage Carriages Trust in June 1972 for the sum of £1. The years of wear and tear had taken their toll and a large amount of repair had to be undertaken, including treatment of dry and wet rot damage immediately above the toilet compartment.
In 1991 the carriage was repainted in early Southern Railway Sage Green livery following further restoration work and shortly afterwards all the seating was re-upholstered, using an authentic pattern of specially woven moquette, by the Bluebell Railway, in return for the loan of the coach.
Essentially fully restored, the coach is used occasionally during Vintage Train weekends.
This carriage visited the National Railway Museum,York during May / June 2004 for the Railfest celebrations.
Reglazed and repainted into BR Carmine and Cream during winter 2010/2011. Completed February 2011.
Filming credits for this carriage:
Peaky Blinders; Timeshift: Between The Lines ; Housewife,49 ; Booze Cruise III; No Man's Land; The Hours; The Cazalets ; Secret Agent - the true story of the Special Operations Executive ; commercial for Budweiser Ice; Jude ; Cruel Train ; Portrait of a Marriage; Sherlock Holmes - Wisteria Lodge ; Sherlock Holmes - The Abbey Grange; Sherlock Holmes - The Copper Beeches; Sorrell and Son ; Brideshead Revisited ; The Seven Per Cent Solution
Filming credits before purchase by Vintage Carriages Trust:
Neutral Ground ; The Railway Children (1968 BBC TV version)
Push and Pull issue 177, Spring 2009
Carriage Survey entry for this carriage
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