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The Dunsmore Coach Bodies

One of the Coach bodies in store in the Buffer Depot

Robert Frise - One of the Coach bodies in store in the Buffer Depot

These two bodies are believed to be the sole remaining examples of their type and the fact they are at Quainton is an achievement in itself. Since the 1920s they were in use as a house in Dunsmore village, some twenty miles from the Centre (hence the name). It is believed that the coaches were delivered to the site behind a Foden steam lorry in the 1930's. Situated in what had become a wood, due to inaccessibility they had to be dismantled to allow removal. Over 160 manhours were expended in demolishing the surrounding house, recovering the doors and sectionalising the body. New roofs were built during reconstruction. Both vehicles were used for many years as sales outlets at Quainton. They were moved to make room for the Rewley Road Visitor Centre and put into store.

The Dunsmore coach bodies were initially thought to be of a high-density third-class stock type built c1900. This type of gas-lit, arc-roofed, 28-ft four-wheeler carriage was once extremely common, 104 being built to diagram D300 alone between 1894 and 1900. Subsequent research has suggested that in fact these are a far more important and older carriage type.

The earliest carriages used on the LNWR were constructed in several different places. Some of the earliest carriages were brought in from Joseph Wright of Birmingham, but the LNWR also built their own carriages at Crewe, Euston and in particular at Saltley. Wolverton was if course the first railway town in the world, long before Crewe or Swindon, and from 1865 all carriage construction for the whole of the LNWR was concentrated at that single site. Their designs owed much to Joseph Wright and the Saltley works, but gradually Wolverton developed its own style and adopted many improvements.

By 1870 carriages had become larger and most Wolverton built carriages were on six wheels. In those days each carriage was built individually and there was no standard under frame, so different types were different lengths. Standard compartment sizes were decided upon for each of the classes, so Wolverton built a whole range of lengths including 27ft 6in, 29ft 6in, 30ft 6in, 31ft 6in etc. Some of these were all Thirds, some First-Third Composites, some First-Second-Third Composites etc. The widths were reasonably standard at 7ft 9in over body mouldings.

The Dunsmore bodies are both 5-compartment Thirds 27ft 6in long by 7ft 9in wide. These were amongst the first carriages to have the traditional ´Wolverton´ style panelling, which was to remain the standard for the next 40 years, though they do still have the older recessed bolections (window frames). They would have been used all over the system from London to Carlisle and are the vehicles most of our ancestors used at that period whenever they travelled by train. Within 10-15 years much larger carriages were in use and the Dunsmore carriages were displaced onto secondary routes, such as Oxford (Rewley Road) to Bletchley. Even in the 1870s the benefits of six wheels over four were not at all clear and some 27ft 6in carriages were built with four wheels and some with six. Examination of the underside of the floor of our bodies shows splash marks from four wheels - so we know how many ours had. When built these were main line carriages of the very latest type, but quickly became out of date, and seem to have been withdrawn around 1900 - 1910.

These carriage bodies must not be confused with Wolverton built 28ft x 8ft stock, which was built around 1900 for two specific geographic locations, and were always high density suburban vehicles. An example of the later carriages may be seen on the Kent and East Sussex Railway, but the Dunsmore bodies are far more important as representatives of a long lost, but once common type. Quainton has done a good job of conserving these bodies over three decades. After 20 years of service as fund raising outlets, one has been flat packed and is in dry storage. The other is currently housing a developing model railway in one of the Romney buildings. It is hoped that eventually, resources will allow at least one of them to be restored to its former glory in the familiar LNWR ´plum and split milk´ livery on a replica wooden underframe, and placed back into Rewley Road for the first time in over 100 years.

The Year of the Coach Body - Tony Lyster - Quainton News No. 43 - Spring 1981
A Century on Rails - A Sequel to the Stockbook - Trevor Page - Quainton News No.59 Spring 1986
The Dunsmore Bodies - Mike Williams - Quainton News

Origin :- LNWR Date Built :- c1874 Number :- 4569
Diagram :- - Lot :- -
Type :- 4 Wheel 3rd Builder :- LNWR Wolverton Owner :- QRS
Status :- In Store Location :- Buffer Depot Accession Number :- W/0043
Arrival Date :- 1980

Origin :- LNWR Date Built :- c1874 Number :- Not known
Diagram :- - Lot :- -
Type :- 4 Wheel 3rd Builder :- LNWR Wolverton Owner :- QRS
Status :- Dismantled Location :- In Store Accession Number :- W/xxxx
Arrival Date :- 1980

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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Page Updated: 17 September 2017