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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 100 - October 2008

Coaches that have left Quainton - Tony Lyster

We have covered locomotives previously located at Quainton in Alan Sturrock's articles. Tony Lyster updates us on coaches that have left Quainton.

I have been asked several times to write about the coaches that have joined and left our collection over the years, a subject I find is rather larger than I thought. It would be easy to just supply a list but that can be boring.

Our online Stock book, administered so capably by Tim Cook, lists a Norwegian coach (1001) as the very first to depart Quainton in January 1972, but I am sure I read in a Quainton News of the time, that two similar coaches were due to join us with the loco King Haakon, but never actually arrived. The loco was only here a matter of weeks, but featured on the cover of a qn of the time. There are two records here that I don't think we have equalled - a foreign built loco at Quainton and surely the shortest time a resident! The trio went first to the erstwhile Ashford Steam Centre, then Loughborough, Tenterden and are now at Bressingham!

The first coach to depart, and which I never knew, was a Midland Railway clerestory coach. The clerestory is the extra bit along the centre of the roof as you can see on our Royal Diner in Rewley Road. Its purpose is to let in extra light and aid ventilation but in an open coach (i.e. without compartment walls), this can lead to structural problems and was seldom seen after the first war. Our example (198829) was built in Derby in 1905 and left for the embryonic Midland Railway Centre at Butterley in 1970. I understand that it still awaits restoration and, may be left unrestored, to show what unrestored coaches look like!

A privately owned LNER Gresley Buffet (9118) was taken away by its owner around January 1977. It went first to Chappel & Wakes Calne, in Essex, but is now, I believe, at a private site at Ovington in Suffolk. I remember it as virtually complete and painted on the exterior, but it had a rotten floor, not helped by open storage in the short siding.

Then there was a bit of a gap until Great Central brake / first 957 left. I can't lay my hands on my old qns at present, but I know that 2 or 3 more GCR bogie coaches arrived and they all departed together to a private airfield near Banbury in 83. John Parsons, a former C&W Chairman, brought 957 to Quainton under the auspices of the Great Central Coach Group (they also brought in the LNWR Cell Truck and the LNWR full brake both now QRS owned and in the down yard shed). A new member later purchased 957 and brought the other GCR bogies to Quainton before taking them all to the airfield where they were joined by a Pullman Car and another GCR bogie. About 10 years ago all the coaches and a another body as well as a host of other, mainly GCR items, were auctioned at the instigation, it was said, of his wife! Little work had been done to them and 957 is now at John Jolly's Mangapps Farm Museum in Essex, which is well worth a visit if only for the signs and signalling displays. (The signalling display is better than anything I have seen including the NRM's). Now painted green and cream, it originally went into bright orange! We attended the auction and came away with a Robinson matchboard third brake purchased with the very generous support of a leading member, currently its in the Buffer Depot whilst its doors and seats are in a Romney!

John Parsons also brought to Quainton LNWR No. 2997, a composite (i.e. more than one class in the coach) which had an attractive corridor and was virtually complete. John later sold it and it was last heard of last year up for sale at Crewe Heritage Centre in a very sorry state. It is very likely to be scrapped unless a rich buyer can be found. This is a great shame as so very few "ordinary" coaches survive from the LNWR (most are Royal Train vehicles).

Three years later, John also sold his LNWR Suburban brake coach. This bad been very radically altered by BR to become a riding van for breakdown work and could have seated 20 at least. With a huge vertical boiler for brewing hot water only, a cooking range and non-original gas lighting, (the original electric was removed as the batteries wouldn't have been man enough to allow for long periods standing at a work site) it was a wonderful coach to sleep in my early days at Quainton. It went to Chinnor in 1990 where, I believe, it is still used as a riding van.

Roger and Sandy Wornham brought a Mark 1 BG (M81269) to Quainton to join their locomotives, but when their diesel left in 1991 for North Norfolk Railway, the BG went too, doubtless full of spares. The same year Chris Britten sold his LMS third class sleeper (592) to the Llangollen Railway where, I hear, it is still in use for volunteer accommodation. This really was a superb vehicle, with a near original interior. Each compartment had four bunks and a 1930's style light fitting. Chris spent many a long day in all weathers carefully replacing each of the exterior steel sheet panels and much of the glass. Although he never finished it, it had the potential to be a fantastic museum piece. I gather its current condition is rather less loved.

I don't recall the Mark 2 BSO (9384) that Tim lists on the stockbook that left for Shackerstone in October 97, but Tim says it was operational in 2006 [Note 1]. Peter Bishop brought a LNWR tri-composite lavatory coach to Quainton. This interesting coach with all 3 classes and two central lavatories, arrived as a coach body to be united to an underframe. Peter took it away to a private site and it is now also at Ovington in Suffolk. According to a photo on the Vintage Carriage Trust's Carriage Survey site (www.vintagecarriagestrust.org) it appears to have had some exterior work done, but looks to be a long way from being finished.

In the early 1970's, as the area around Wolverton was being cleared for what is now Milton Keynes, a farmyard yielded up an early Observation Saloon. Built by the LNWR as a 4 wheeler (and numbered 68) for use on the Llandudno - Ffestiniog branch. It was later replaced by the larger saloon now in use at the Bluebell. For many years it languished in the down yard, where various groups used it as a sales outlet until 2003, when it was discovered to be absolutely riddled with dry rot. So instead of putting it on a recently acquired chassis we, very reluctantly, decided to burn it in situ to reduce the risk of the spores settling on other wooden coaches of which we have quite a few.

There have been 2 other departures from Quainton - both wagons. The Sentinel Trust sold their LMS box van (327466) to Embsay, near Skipton where, I believe, it is now privately owned and has been restored by a very active leading light and friend of mine. The Granada TV filming contract for Jewel in the Crown in the early 1980's brought 5 bogie bolsters to us and left them here. They each had a coach built on them. One has been turned into a short boiler wagon (in the down yard) whilst another (GWR 64) was sold in January 1995. We have lost track of this and the VCT's Wagon Survey is too embryonic to give an answer just yet. In the early 1970's a number of wagons and box vans came to us from Bicester MOD, one of these was a GWR Mink box van that may have started life as a 5-plank wagon. It was devoid of buffers and was described at the time as being in poor condition. Left to languish at the back of the down yard shed where the hedge grew over it we eventually dispatched it to the great shunting yard in the sky - all, that is except for the wheels which are on display in the Museum.

As I have been unable to locate my back issues of qn I feel sure that inaccuracies and plain mistakes will have crept in! Please let me know of them so that we can make this record correct, thank you.

1 - Reported as being operational at the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway in 2012 in the Vintage Carriage Survey.

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 2008 and so does not reflect events in the 6+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

Coaches that have left Quainton - Tony Lyster - Quainton News No. 100 - October 2008

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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