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LNER Restaurant Cars

Catering was an integral part of the principal expresses and we gave it a sub-chapter in "LNER Passenger Trains and Formations, The Principal Services", but space only allowed six portrait illustrations. Even Michael Harris in his last book could only fit in four pictures, so this will be extra material, hoping not to repeat what's already out there.

From GNR to BR - a cautionary tale of renumbering and rebuilding

- A key aspect of the LNER was that the Areas and Sections were responsible for their own carriage fleets and the first digit of the running numbers was used to indicate the ownership. For example, "2" was for the NE Area, "3" the South Scottish Area, and "4" the GN Section. When a carriage was transferred, the whole number was changed, leading with the requisite digit. A great deal of the running numbers were random, and when gaps were created by transfer or scrapping, they could be reused.

- A further aspect was that Diagrams were not as exclusive as many people think: some of them held groups of types. Combine all this and you'll see that a running number alone, or a Diagram number, can be misleading - you needed the date as well, and hopefully, a reliable source.

This particular saga began in 1906 when the GNR built three 65'6" Restaurant Composites as part of the "Sheffield" stock. The general coaches were 8-wheel, but the catering coaches, including this trio, were 12-wheel. After the LNER was formed in 1924, they were renumbered : 43039, 43040, 43041.

They were being replaced in top flight expresses on the GN Section and were cascaded to lesser services in the NE Area and South Scottish Area, and renumbered again, as : 22262 and 32302,32303.

On receipt of 43039, the NEA put it in one of the cross-country expresses, the Newcastle-Bournemouth (which isn't hard to model if you pick the right part of the journey), and the GN Section number was retained for quite a few years. When, or even if, it was renumbered I cannot say.

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I haven't a prototype picture of 43039 but, as the saying goes, here is one I made earlier, from the D&S kit. This is the corridor side.

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And here is the kitchen side.

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The other two, however, were renumbered which freed up their previous numbers, which were promptly reused by the GN Section for new construction, for a 1st class restaurant car (RF) and an unclassed restaurant car (RU):

1928 D.10C - RF - 43040
1929 D.11 - RU - 43041

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Here here is the first one, No 43040 as built in 1928, reusing the now-vacant number. It was a normal 1st Class car (RF) with the classic arrangement of a large kitchen and 18 First class dining seats, the LNER's main line of development, followed by the very similar D.144 (hence the MJT and Kirk kits, respectively). They all ran paired with a 3rd Open Dining Car.

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And here, from 1929, is the second re-used number, 43041, as applied to the first unclassed restaurant car (RU) built to D.11. Note the smaller kitchen and much larger seating capacity of 30 seats, to run as a stand-alone restaurant car without a supporting dining car.

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The background is that in 1929 the LNER started using unclassed restaurant cars for late-night trains when social niceties were less important, with the car placed on one end of the train for later evening meals, easily knocked off the rear at a stop along the way, or added in the morning to serve breakfast (see p.19 and p.160 for details of the down workings). The complication is that Diagram 11 was built as both and RU and RF. To be specific:

1929 RU 43041
1930 RF 31922/3
1931 RU 31924/6/35, 42783
1934 RF 31868/902
1934 RU 42782

To further complicate matters, some earlier RFs in the Diagram 10 series, D.10A and D.10C, were reconfigured as RUs, so they too began to contain a mixture of types. For modellers, the MJT kit can be built as an RU (No 21474).

More developments

Around 1936 all three of the ex-GNR 12w Restaurant Composites were rebuilt as Kitchen Cars for use in guaranteed excursions. The underframe fittings were revised vis a vis the cooking requirements, and the trussing was changed from turnbuckle to steel angle, but the 6w bogies were retained. The first one, formerly the car known as 43039, supposedly 22262, remained allocated to the NE Area and it was joined by the other two which, with renumbering, became: 22262, 2334, 2335.

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This is an official view of the rebuild of RC 43040 into RK 2334. From the kitchen side you can see how the former dining areas were utilised with a staff compartment and toilet at this end, and at the far end, an extra pantry with ventilation grilles and a door for loading. Note the large cylinders for gas cooking.

The branding "Restaurant Car" may be yet another confusing factor and it may look anomalous but it was for public consumption and perfectly straightforward - the LNER applied it across the board to all its kitchen, restaurant and dining cars to indicate that full meals were available on the train, and where of course. Only the Buffet Cars had dedicated branding at a lower level.

Need any more confusion? When not enough buffet cars for buffet excursions could be found, a restaurant car would be inserted, but as would have been stated on the handbill, only a buffet service was provided. Catering carriages were always in demand - and additionally prone to breakdown because of the cooking equipment - so the company held quite a large pool of them. It was rare for the same catering coach to complete a whole season in the same service and replacements weren't always like for like. For example, an RF could be replaced by RK+FO(dining).

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Many years later, in 1956, the rebuild of RC 43039 to RK E22262E was captured at Heaton. The corridor side had not been changed, which means that an enterprising modeller could produce an RK from the D&S kit by modifying the other side, and updating the underframe. As can be seen, BR adopted external branding of "Kitchen Car".

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New section

The restaurant triplet sets

This was another significant development from Gresley with a kitchen car articulated between dining cars: FO-RK-TO.

In his final book, Michael Harris gave quite a few pages to the the history of the 1924/28 sets and showed most of the Diagrams. Clive and I covered their deployment in the book under The Expresses/The Catering Core, and under Final Developments (BR), but space limited what we could show, so here are some more pictures, divided into:

1924 design and 1928 upgrade
1935 Silver Jubilee and later use in BR days
1938 Flying Scotsman and later use in BR days.

In service

The total built in 1924-28 was eight (nine if you include the Leeds Quintuple set already in service) and no more sets were required until the mid- and late-1930s when perceptions were changing. Availability of catering coaches was always hard to maintain because of their complexity and there were sufficient RTS from the 1920s that two sets could be held as spares. When the "Silver Jubilee" started running in 1935 it was a single formation between Newcastle-King's Cross with its own RTS and a concentrated maintenance effort was needed to ensure availability. The problem was addressed two years later when the "Coronation" and "West Riding Limited" followed in 1937 and not only were twins used but a complete train was built as a spare which could stand in for any of the streamline trains.

The last triplet sets were built in 1938 exclusively for the "Flying Scotsman" when a pair of all-new trains was built for it. When failure required a substitute, or when the train was taken out for spring cleaning, older triplet sets stood in (see topic "The Flying Scotsman".

All told, the LNER ended up operating 11 triplet sets (twelve if you include the Leeds Quintuple Set) and while they didn't dominate services on the ECML and GNML as a whole, they certainly dominated the crack expresses and the flyers. For modellers there is plastic kit of a 1924/1928 RTS in the Ian Kirk range, and etched brass body etchings for the 1938 set from RDEB. As time passed they moved around and the following pictures shows developments as far as possible in chronological order. When looking at pictures of trains it can be hard to distinguish between the 1924 and 1928 sets, so I have Grouped them together.

In BR days, after the Thompson free-standing 3-car sets came into use (FO, RK, TO) - and some BRk.1s - the Gresley triplets slipped down a notch but continued serving in important expresses on the ECML and GNML; none was cascaded to other Areas/Sections. Before long the ER was operating trains made up with mixtures of Gresley, Thompson and BR Mk.1 carriages and a teak-panelled RTS could comprise the oldest carriages in the formation. Such trains formed a high proportion of expresses on these main lines and we described examples in the book; here are some more illustrations with, for modellers, plenty of room for manoeuvre.

The 1924 design

The main difference when more sets were built in 1924 was in sets for the "Flying Scotsman" to the Louis XIV style in which, among other things internally, the table lamps were replaced by pelmet lights and in the 1st class dining car, loose chairs. The latter was to be copied by BR in some of its restaurant cars. All the pictures are in chronological order.

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The interior of a 1924 RTS, showing the 1st class dining car with conventional seats, albeit upholstered with leather, and just visible on the right, one of the table lamps. Photo: Author's collection.

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Stand-alone pictures of restaurant triplets are rare and this one is well known:

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A formal portrait of a 1928 RTS, Nos 16481-3, one of the two Allom-design Louis XIV sets. Note the absence of table lamps. Heavy bogies throughout. Photo: Author's collection.

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A portrait of the interior of the 1st class dining car in one of the 1928 Allom-design triplet sets for the "Flying Scotsman". The hands on the clock show approximately 10 o'clock and the blinds have been pulled down over the windows to keep out the daylight so that the interior and its lighting can be seen in a formal way.

It's also unusual because the tables haven't been covered or places set, the purpose being to show the free-standing chairs and other design features. Note, for example, absence of table lamps and pelmet lighting reflecting off the white ceiling and bathing the whole interior with indirect light. There are no suspended lights and the fancily decorated feature is an extractor vent.

In practice the loose chairs were unstable on sharp curves and were replaced by conventional "bench" seats. Photo: Author's collection.

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The year is 1937, when A4s took over the "Flying Scotsman" and No 4484, Falcon is at Ganwick with the Down train. Recently introduced end-vestibule carriages are at the head and behind them, clearly visible is the Toilet 3rd and the RTS. On this occasion, 12 coaches altogether. Photo: E.R. Wethersett, author's collection.

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In a scene at Low Fell c1937-38, reboilered 4-6-4 W1 No 10000 passes through with a heavy express. Several strengtheners appear to have been placed behind the tender, beyond which the main train, including a 1924-design RTS, is carrying destination boards on the roof. Photo: LGRP, author's collection.

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In April 1949, recently built Peppercorn A1 No 60145, in LNER apple-green and BRITISH RAILWAYS on the tender but not yet named Saint Mungo, is passing Geneva Road at Darlington with an express made up with Thompson carriages, but Gresley catering in the shape of an 1924-design RTS. Photo: Photomatic.

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A4 No 60025 Falcon has an Up express at Helpston. All the identifiable carriages are Thompsons, some in painted teak livery, others in the experimental LNWR style colours. In the middle is a 1924-design RTS. Photo: Author's collection.

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Peppercorn A1 No 60130 Kestrel is at Woolmers Green in May 1952 with the 3.30pm KX-Newcastle. The train has been modernised extensively and behind the leading Thompson 3rd brake there's a long string of BR Mk.1s with compartments and, just coming round the curve, a Gresley 1924-design RTS, the only teak-panelled stock that can be seen. Photo: E.R. Wethersett.

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A1 60130 detl

An enlargement showing the Gresley RTS in fine condition, the 3rd class leading in the usual way.

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A Saturday in 1953 sees A4 No 60003 Andrew K. McCosh with an Up express near Wymondley. The formation is a mixture of Gresley and Thompson carriages with a single BR Mk.1, a CK, with the only visible destination board. Leading is a Gresley 52'6" BTK and the restaurant triplet set is a long way back. The general appearance of the 13-coach formation is of a summer Saturday train, from Edinburgh or Newcastle.

The reversed headboard is of the kind carried by the "Yorkshire Pullman" or "Tees-Tyne Pullman", almost certainly the latter. Photo: G.W. Goslin.

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Sometime in the late 1950s, A4 No 60005 Sir Charles Newton has a heavy, 16-coach express, which may be a relief or an excursion, judging by the steel-panelled twin behind the tender (originally BTK-TK). Three BR Mk.1s follow and behind them, a Gresley teak-panelled 1924-design RTS. Photo: C. Ord Collection.

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This picture has defied quite a lot of analysis! Leaving York with a Down express is A2 60533 Happy Knight. Gateshead A2s are known to have taken over the Down "Junior Scotsman" in September 1956 and that may be the train here in the following year, but other carriages don't tally with the roster, so no definitive statement from me on this one.

As with many other trains from this period, most of the carriages have been modernised but Gresley teak-panelled catering remains.

The stock at this end is Gresley (1), Thompson (3), BR Mk.1 (2) and, recently out-shopped in maroon livery, a 1924-design RTS: TO-RK-FO with the lower class car leading. Through the windows of the 1st class dining car, table lamps can be seen. Photo: E. Treacy.

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A3 No 60108 Gay Crusader (34A) leaves York in September 1957 with a KX-Tyne Commission Quay express. The body of the train, 13 coaches long, is a 50:50 mixture of Thompson and BR Mk.1 coaches, all bar one still in carmine & cream livery. Just one has received the newly introduced maroon. So has the 1924-design restaurant triplet set in the middle of the train - the only remaining Gresley teak-panelled carriages in the formation. Behind the exhaust it's possible to see fresh grey roofs on the repainted coaches, quite pale under the late summer sun. Photo: Gavin Morrison.

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To be continued....

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