It has been five months since a vehicle was out-shopped from Weybourne following overhaul, so we are pleased to say that it is the turn of Suburban E48001 to have its time in the limelight!
E48001 is one of the railway's most unusual carriages built to the standard 1950's Mark 1 design. Weighing 29 tons, it is a Third Lavatory Open (TLO) and is the only Suburban design carriage within our collection that has open style seating inside, i.e. not in separate compartments. 80 third class passengers can squeeze into two smoking saloons entering or existing using one of the 16 doors. In the centre is a small corridor connecting the saloons and providing access to two toilets. However like all Mark 1 suburbans, there are no corridor connections at the ends of the vehicle which prevents access to adjacent carriages. The TLO vehicles were built specially for the Eastern Region, who were the only one of the five BR regions to request suburban stock with toilets. This “special feature” meant that the TLO design was the least numerous design of suburban, with only 28 being built, all by British Railways' Doncaster Works in 1955. Compare this figure to the suburban “Third” fleet, of which there were 300 examples. The only other design of suburban to have toilets was the Composite Lavatory, another “Eastern Region Exclusive”, one of which is also resident on the NNR and is the forth (and final) member of the Suburban 4 club. E48001 is therefore the first vehicle in the Suburban 4 project to enter service with toilets. Do try them out when you travel!
E48001 was introduced into service in February 1956 and spent its entire working life on Eastern Region suburban services. Its exact workings are not known, although evidence exists that the coach operated commuter services from London Fenchurch Street out to Shoeburyness. The coach could also have operated on secondary services further afield if required. During E48001's working career it was repainted twice, starting out life in BR's original suburban livery of unlined Crimson. It was repainted shortly after introduction into the standard lined Maroon livery as the Crimson proved difficult to keep clean and was particularly susceptible to fading in sunlight. It received a final colour change into BR's corporate Blue livery, which was rather uninspiring on suburban stock as it consisted of a single colour with no lining or other features.
The first members of the TLO fleet started to be withdrawn from service in 1965, only ten years after they were built. The BR suburban stock was the last non-corridor coaching stock to be built in the UK, as modern practice was favouring multiple units and electrification for suburban services, which explains the short working lives of this type of stock. E48001 was to become one of the final six TLO's to remain in service, eventually being withdrawn in October 1977 with only sister E48009 outlasting it (by just a further two months). Towards its swansong E48001 was working peak services out of Kings Cross, along Great Northern lines being hauled by Class 31 diesel locomotives.
E48001 entered preservation in 1977 and became one of 11 TLO vehicles to dodge the cutter's torch. This was fairly remarkable as 40% of the original fleet had been saved, however this situation was to change drastically. Preservation was not to prove a guaranteed sanctuary, as the lack of corridor connections, numerous doors and poorly designed windows resulted in the coaches being unsuitable for normal tourist railway operations, and the limited resources of enthusiasts in the 1980’s and 1990’s resulted in the situation where water damage and steel corrosion was far outstripping the capacity to conserve and repair the coaches. Consequently, most of the preserved TLO’s declined in condition to the extent that disposal was the only remaining option and by the 2010's only five TLO’s were still in existence. However their condition was fairly good, with three out of the five survivors still in regular service.
E48001 was originally owned by the Railway Vehicle Preservations group, spending its early years at the Nene Valley Railway until being sold on to the Great Central Railway in 1983. It is not known whether E48001 ever carried passengers whilst at the Great Central, however in 1997 it was sold again to the Churnet Valley Railway who had aspirations to create a three coach suburban set. E48001 was in the best condition within the Churnet Valley collection so it was stripped down and partially restored during the early 2000's. Sadly, a change in circumstances resulted in the restoration attempt stalling and E48001 was returned to storage in a partially completed state, where its condition started to worsen again.
The vehicle’s long term future was secured in the early 2010’s when the NNR’s Suburban 4 project, lead by the late Clive Morris, was launched and E48001 was sold to the NNR for a nominal sum. This was instigated because the NNR’s own TLO E48004 had only been acquired for its rarity and the fact it was the only TLO available at the time, despite E48004's extremely poor condition. E48001 represented a far better restoration prospect than E48004 due to the previous restoration progress. The NNR are grateful to the group at the Churnet Valley who practically donated E48001 to us, and we hope that it’s rebuild and launch in original condition assures the group that their actions have helped to save the coach. E48001 moved to the NNR in May 2011, however due to a lack of workshop capacity at the time it was initially parked outside the workshop on a separate siding where a small team of volunteers re-started the restoration.
In 2013 a space became available in the workshop for approximately six months. E48001 was brought in and treated to most of the steel metalwork repairs it would require. This would not prove to be as severe as some of the other suburban vehicles, again due to the efforts of previous restorers. The roof was also repaired and repainted during this time and residual asbestos from under the flooring and around pipework was removed.
During early 2014, replacement doors and window glass was fitted after which E48001 had to return outdoors where volunteers continued to restore interior components. The seating, which had been removed from the vehicle, was also reupholstered. A year later, in February 2016, E48001 was brought back into the workshops for its overhaul to be concluded in earnest. This period saw the vehicle lifted and a full mechanical overhaul undertaken to the bogies and underframe, including a full strip down and repaint. The exterior was prepared and then painted. The interior, which by this stage had been fully restored in component form, was fully assembled like a majestic jigsaw puzzle.
E48001 was completed in August 2016, in time to be formed into a 3-coach suburban set with Brake Third E43357 (completed in May 2015) and Third W46139 (completed March 2016) for use at the Grand Steam Gala. Once again, a great deal of effort was put into finishing the coach to a good standard and all staff and volunteers should be proud of their endeavours. E48001 now joins our operational fleet but will only used on an occasional basis to preserve its condition until the final suburban, CL E43041, can be finished to join the set.
Carriages to Cromer
A second achievement to celebrate this week is the NNR's first runs to Cromer over Network Rail metals. The work to register the four dining train coaches was phenomenal and the staff and volunteers involved should be very proud of the result which was made possible by their efforts and the simultaneous efforts of the wider railway in getting the other parts of the project ready. The work undertaken, and the midnight oil burnt, has been reported on in a decidedly low-key fashion on this Blog. This was in no way an indication of a lack of importance or interest in the work, rather the ins and outs of the processes which were required were not always suitable for open publication. However the end result is the important factor, and from a Carriage & Wagon point of view the preparation and instigation of the first two days of "mainline running" was undoubtedly a success. Cheers to that!
Great Eastern Railway 1899 4 Wheel Brake Third 853
Work on the guard's van interior continues. Now that the cupboards and shelving are fitted, another item has been started, a letter rack, which is being hand made out of mesh and timber. Work to complete and strengthen the compartment seating also continues, and the creation of a companion's seat for the disabled area is now underway, and this will also double up as a handy toolbox!
Great Northern Railway (later M&GN) 1887 6 Wheel Third 129
In similar vain to last week, there is more metal going onto the underframe (welding) and more being taken out again (drilling). It will probably end up weighing the same after everybody is finished...
British Railways 1957 Mark 1 Tourist Second Open E4641
Again, the Holt end corridor remains the focus, which is now complete and ready for refitting to the coach. The last parts of the metal bellows were painted this week, and the surrounding area on the carriage itself has been painted in undercoat as it is easier to paint this now than it will be once the corridor is back on.
British Railways 1955 Mark 1 Suburban Composite Lavatory E43041
E43041 is now Billy-no-Mates. With three Suburban's now completed the CL is the only suburban left in works, which has returned to a more balanced layout for the first time in several years, with one suburban, one "normal" Mark 1 and one DMU occupying the undercover spaces. Despite the big push to get E48001 finished, the drive on E43041 has continued unabated, and the big progress this week has been the refitting of the second class compartment walls. We decided to fit these before varnish stripping them as we feared fresh varnish may get damaged whilst the (rather large) walls were being installed on top of the coach's new flooring.
The inside window woodwork has also reached completion and positively shines in its new varnish. The same team that was previously working on the woodwork for TLO E48001 will now be turning their attention fully to the interior woodwork for E43041, so all being well these window parts will be the first of many.
British Railways 1958 Class 101 Railcar Driving Motor Brake Second M51192
The replacement for E48001 inside the workshops is the powered half of the National Railway Museum's DMU set, M51192, which is on loan to the railway and has been for some five years now. This has been brought in for emergency surgery as it's external cosmetic condition has become disgraceful. The vehicle has not previously been included in our main programme of works so it has had to be slipped in as an "extra", consequently there is only a very limited time window for remedial works to be completed. A super-quick roof and bodyside repaint is planned, with more thorough repairs being deferred for a future visit.
The attack so far has been swift. Shortly after entering the shed the whole bodyside and cab front was run round and all cracked filler and rotten areas chipped out. These areas have subsequently been treated for rust and will receive body filler next week. The roof has had all of its loose paint chipped off, and again the "bare" areas rust-treated, because we don't have enough time to employ our usual method of chipping the roof back to bare metal. Once up on the roof three of the patches (fitted by BR when they removed the original vents) literally fell off whilst we were scraping loose paint! Further inspection revealed that many years of expansion/contraction of the roof had sheared many of the aluminium rivets used on the patches. We are now removing all of the patches, cleaning them up, resealing them and re-riveting them to give them a new lease of life.
British Railways (LMS Design) 1949 20 Ton Brakevan B950133
Both sides of the vehicle are now top coated, as is the Sheringham end verandah. The Holt end verandah has also been 50% completed. This, the running boards and the buffers will hopefully be completed in the next few days, weather dependant!