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LNWR 1st Class Sleeping Car No. 112

Newly Restored Cinema Coach in Rewley Road

Robert Frise - Newly Restored Cinema Coach in Rewley Road

The Original Coach
The carriage was constructed at Wolverton to LNWR Diagram D16, in 1907, and was an elliptical roof version of the clerestory roofed W.C.Joint Stock Diagram D2 introduced in 1904. Only six coaches were constructed to Diagram D16. They were 65'-6" over headstocks, and 9'-1" wide at the window cills. The Dl6 coaches were run on the new LNWR standard 12'-6" 6-wheel bogies, which became the final LNWR standard for six-wheel bogie stock. The original standard layout of both coach diagrams was; entrance vestibule, attendants compartment, smoking room, 7 single berth compartments, 2 double berth compartments, toilet and entrance vestibule. David Jenkinson, in his book 'An Illustrated History of LNWR Coaches' suggests that the diagram Dl6 coaches might have been ordered as clerestory vehicles, but were built as elliptical roofed vehicles. As this was the new standard with the introduction of electric lighting in coaches.

As built, this coach was No.112, and was renumbered as 5112, and was the fourth of the six to be built to Diagram D16. The LMS renumbered them first as Nos. 10334 - 10339, and then in 1933 they were allocated Nos. 478 - 483, though there is some doubt as to whether they ever carried these numbers, as they were all withdrawn 3 years later.

The First Changes
After the 1923 Grouping, the LMS altered all the D16 coaches removing the smoking compartment, and the 2 double compartments. Extra single berths were formed; 1 in the smoking compartment, and 3 singles in the space of the 2 doubles, thus they had 11 berths per coach. Externally, the main change that would have been seen was that an additional window was required to the additional berth, and so the last 2 berths had a double window. No apparent changes were made to the corridor side appearance. All six coaches appear to have been withdrawn from capital stock in October and November 1936, when the Quainton vehicle was crudely modified for use as a Mobile Cinema Coach, for use as an educational and instructional facility.

Conversion to a Cinema Coach
The 1936 changes were not very subtle in their approach, and a number of new openings were cut into the carriage sides, on both sides of the vehicle. The internal partitions were also all altered between the inner vestibule doors, and have been located to suit the new required use, ignoring their relationship with the sidewall structure or external openings on the compartment side.

The area that was the attendant´s room, and part of the smoking room, became the battery room. Timber ventilation louvers were cut in full height on the compartment side, across approximately half the width of the window. On the corridor side, a pair of double doors were cut through on the first window, and half of the next panel. The projection room adjoins the ventilated room, and takes the rest of the smoking room, and half the first cabin space. The corridor has a raised section in the floor with steps at either end of the projection room. The projection room floor is also raised to the level of the top of the ramped floor in the cinema seated portion.

The original corridor width has been maintained for the full length of the coach, but from the projection room wall to the end of the 6th cabin, a ramp was installed for the width of the cabins, which had 7 rows of heater elements across its width, which presumably coincided with simple bench seating positions. The floor was then level until it reached the screen position, which would be approximately on the line of the wall between the last 2 cabins, at the front of the screen base, though the screen itself was set back to a line roughly half way across the last compartment window.

The original toilet space was expanded to fill the whole of the new end cabin, and the corridor side wall has been splayed, to maximize the new internal operators´ room space. The corridor external-side wall was further modified, with a window blocked by the front wall of the projection room, and a door then cut into the next spandrel panel. Another window was closed up adjacent to the screen.

When operated by the British Transport Film Unit from 1949, the coach was coupled to a generator unit, which was housed in an ex-LNER Brake 3rd. In 1971, the generator van was numbered DB 975056.

A photograph taken at Wimbledon Station in the 1950´s shows the coach to have been clad with steel sheet panelling. To make up the difference in thickness between the original timber and the steel sheet, all the external posts and rails had a 6mm [1/4”] hardwood batten pinned to them. This photograph also shows that the roof over the vestibule ends had been reshaped to terminate on the door line, whereas when built, the roof line at cantrail level was consistent throughout the length of the coach. The coach was fitted with a hand wheel to operate the brakes when the coach was stationary in sidings, and this has been retained, and is operational.

Following some ´heavy shunt´ damage to the chassis, the coach was withdrawn by British Railways in the early 1970´s. It was delivered to Quainton on the 10th July 1974 by track slew from the mainline (QN21 Autumn 1974).

Physical Condition Prior to HLF Funded Refurbishment
Attempts had been made to carry out some works on the vehicle, including the stripping of much of the side panelling, and the inside of the roof panels, and removal of the internal fixtures and fittings. As circumstances changed within the original group of members who were seeking to restore the coach, it had been left for many years in its stripped condition, latterly under tarpaulins.

Following a successful Heritage Lottery Fund application, the coach was sent to the Lancastrian Carriage and Wagon works in Heysham on the 5th November 2003. Here the coach was stripped of the remaining panelling, revealing more damage than expected. Two lengths of the cantrail needed replacement, and more internal partition framing on the non-corridor side was badly rotted. The broken buffer beam was removed, and the extent of the damage following the heavy shunt, which ultimately decided the fate of the coach in British Rail days, could be seen. The two buffers were standing on their buffing faces, one was vertical and the other was at least five degrees out of square. A new headstock has been fitted, and a length of new solebar welded in place.

The Refurbished Coach
It was decided that the coach to be restored externally to its LNWR condition as Sleeping Saloon No (5) 112, but that it should have its interior retained as a cinema coach. As noted above, the two periods that were to be represented were incompatible when the alterations were made in 1936, so a number of design compromises have had to be made.

The compartment side has been reconstructed as originally built. The corridor side has had the doors that were cut into the side removed, and they have been re-sited so that they have a minimal impact on the overall appearance. The only features are the ´cut´ lines where the door edges show, but they have been moved where possible to coincide with the vertical bolection mouldings to minimise their effect, and the three projecting hinges per door have been painted in the colour of their background; some are different on either side, so that they do not show too much. There is no other external ironmongery on these doors, as they can only be opened from the inside. Access to the coach to open it for visitors is via the end vestibule doors.

The cinema area has a level section at the front to allow for a couple of wheelchair bound visitors to have access to the ´show´. The window patterns have been restored on the outside of the coach. Many of them are ´blind´ windows, with the window blind material suggesting that the internal blinds have been lowered. Internally, the panelling has been run across so that no window positions are defined. The former battery room is now a small clear space, and it is proposed to mount a small exhibition on the history of the coach, and the cinema coaches in general. The projection room has been retained, and refurbished to allow the projection of films in the original manner.

It is intended to install a plasma or LCD flat screen which can be linked to a computer to allow the playing of a DVD showing an introduction to the site, or for training films, or private hire presentations. A secondary screen position has been wired approximately 2/3rds of the way back up the ramp of the coach, should there be too many tall people in front. A ´minicom´ loop has been installed to assist hearing-impaired visitors, and provision has been made for supplementary small speakers to be fitted into the ceiling to boost speech from a lecturer. A pull down screen will allow for the projection of slides, overhead projection, or computer projection of ´Powerpoint´ presentations, or they can use the plasma screen. An adjustable overhead spotlight will allow a lectern to be highlighted, with the rest of the lights turned off. The coach has been fitted out with 27 padded lecture style tip-up seats and desks, carpeted floor, and indirect lighting.

Which coach do we have?
At the time of acquisition, it was only known to have been a former LNWR sleeping saloon, that carried the BR Departmental Number DM 395017 M. It was known as Cinema Coach No.2. CC1 and was an ex-Southern Railway Film Unit cinema coach.

Research prior to the reconstruction had narrowed the coach down to 1 of 6, and when the interior cladding was removed the carpenters marks were found: V I I II (5112) which by good fortune is the coach illustrated in David Jenkinson´s book on LNWR coaches. (Carpenters usually used Roman numbers because they can be easily formed with a chisel). Earlier Quainton publications had referred to a possible identification of this coach as LNWR No. 36, but this now appears not to be the case.

The coach has been reconstructed, and repainted in the LNWR colours and fully lined out in the ´flake white and corn´ lining. The coach is located in the Rewley Road platform, and will provide a very useful addition to the Centre´s resources, particularly for educational purposes and commercial hiring when fitted out.

Letters to the Editor - Quainton News No. 24 - Summer 1975
A Century on Rails - A Sequel to the Stockbook - Trevor Page - Quainton News No.59 Spring 1986
The Cinema Coach - Quainton News No.91 April 2004
The Cinema Coach Returns - Lance Adlam - Quainton News No.93 April 2005

Origin :- LNWR Date Built :- 1907 Number :- LNWR - 112
Type :- 1st Sleeper / Cinema Coach Builder :- LNWR Wolverton Owner :- QRS
Status :- Restored Location :- Rewley Road Accession Number :- W/0031
Arrival Date :- 1974

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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Page Updated: 24 September 2017