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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, trying not to repeat what's already out there.

New addition

More about catering roofs

I've included this picture and a detail enlargement as an aid to modellers because views of the roof on a restaurant car tend to be rare.

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Sometime in the late 1930s, Gresley A1 No 2577 Night Hawk, which was a North Eastern Area loco allocated to York from 1/37, leaves Newcastle with a down express. The date can be established as 1938-39 because of the D.266 restaurant car behind the tender, one of only four 61'6" restaurant composites, built only for the Scottish Area in 1938. Note how it was added for only part of the journey, outside the main formation. Photo: Lens of Sutton.

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A detail view shows the roof fittings a little better, for anthracite-electric cooking, which was also fitted to the RFs and is thus helpful as a guide. I have sharpened the picture slightly. Photo: Lens of Sutton (detail).

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The LNER 1st Restaurant car

We move on now to the most numerous type of of restaurant car built by the LNER. Much has already been published by Michael Harris, Clive Carter and myself, that restaurant cars like this were not a self-sufficient, stand-alone vehicle: they only catered for 1st Class passengers - 3rd Class passengers were served in an adjoining 3rd Open Dining Car, or the Pantry 3rd version.

Two- and three-car arrangements were normal, there was even one with four cars! And of course, the articulated triplet version with a kitchen car (described separately, see link below) for the heaviest trains. More restaurant and dining cars were built by Thompson. Modellers who wish to run an express with a normal restaurant service seem to struggle with this practice, yet even the shortest express formation, with 5 coaches, would contain a Restaurant Car + Dining Car pairing. If you want restaurant catering in your train the real question is what to choose to go with the RF?

- a 48-seat 3rd Open Dining car (with 2:1 seating and more generous tables)

- or the similarly spaced but more glamorous Pantry 3rd (because it had a pantry buffered next to the kitchen in the RF and the the LNER branded it "Restaurant Car". Dining FOs were branded the same so that many expresses ran with 2 or 3 carriages proclaiming a restaurant service. And it looks grand, too!

Don't be fooled by the eventual drift towards buffet and cafeteria car, nor by today's "trolley service". Things really, really used to be different! Clive and I showed many examples in the LNER Passenger Trains etc book and rather than repeat, here's a look at the LNER's development of the 61'6" 1st Restaurant car.

Developments

An important feature to bear in mind is that all carriage design evolved. On the LMS, for example, three distinct "Periods" have been identified. On the LNER the outward appearance may have looked the same but new features were introduced more or less constantly and slipped in unobtrusively. And it was the practice not to redraw a Diagram unless the body was altered significantly, a grey area of course. Many changes (such as the type of trussing), were not shown while production of an established design continued. (I may have said before that Diagrams are not as reliable a source as people may think)! Another complication when looking at restaurant cars, especially 1st class ones, was features particular to the class, such as toplights with Stones angled ventilators rather than sliding ones (they allowed air to be blown in as well as sucked out of the carriage), and they were built in smaller numbers which, if focussed on over a significant period of time, had the effect of making the changes more pronounced.

From D.10 to D.144

The 18-set RF was established soon after the Grouping and construction for general service proceeded until mid-1936, followed a few years later by the Thompson version. The general theme under Gresley is represented very well by two kits:

MJT - based on the D.10 series (D.10C to be specific) because it is the most typical and had the longest life span. Stones ventilators were fitted in the dining saloon and turnbuckle trussing.

Kirk - the D.144 version had recessed doors and, from 1934, steel angle trussing. There was more variability in the toplights and vents, as the sample illustrations will show.

As always the illustrations are in chronological order of when built:

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The first illustration blows the myth that Gresley starting building the "standard" RF in the D.10-D.144 series with electric cooking. In fact the first three diagrams - D.10, D.10A. D.10B had gas cooking. Here is, as built in 1925, No 22251 to D.10. It was the first and may be described as a prototype. Trussing was the turnbuckle type, to be fitted for another ten years, with a centrally placed gas cylinder and a pressure gauge on the solebar. At this stage, the vestibule at the dining end was deep with shelves; a cloakroom, you could say. All these features were to be replaced by new developments. Photo: LNER, author's collection.

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The second picture shows an example of D.10C in which the basic layout was settled. This is No 43040 of 1928 built for services out of King's Cross. The deep vestibule and gas cooking have gone and three dynamos help feed many more battery boxes. Stones ventilators remain in the dining area and, at first glance, it looks like the same in the corridor but they are actually simpler, shallow sliding ventilators. And every corridor window was ventilated. Note how the screening on the windows did not obscure the quarter-lights so that staff could always look out. Author's collection.

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The only known issue of D.10C refers to a total of 12 built (1928-29), but actually shows all 14 numbers built in those years. The toplights shown are Stones (shallow) at the dining saloon, and 4 (shallow) sliding in the corridor. This tallies with the photograph of No 43040 (shown above) and the kitchen side of No 6119 (1929). Author's collection.

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The drawing for D.144 is very similar to D.10C above and also only known in a single issue. It carries the numbers of two of the first four built, in 1931. Visible differences externally are in the recessed doors, but also in the corridor toplights which were 3-shallow, which was quite short lived. I'll have a bit more to say when I describe some of the models; for now I'm trying to set out some markers and point us in a direction that is based on the real thing. Author's collection.

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No 42788 of 1931 was one of that first quartet to D.144 and also built for services out of King's Cross and is seen here in BR days in b&c livery and running number of E9069E. Note that turnbuckle trussing was still being fitted and Stones vents in the dining area, and shielded ventilators over the small, kitchen windows. Photo: A.G. Ellis, author's collection.

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Another step along the way is shown by this D.144 built in 1935. Originally No 654 for the GE Section, now in BR maroon and No E9074E, the penultimate version can be seen with steel angle trussing, deeper Stones vents for the dining saloon and for the kitchen, deep sliding ventilators. Was there a series of hot summers in the 1930s that nudged the LNER towards ever more efficient ventilation for its staff and passengers? Whatever the reason, there is a distinct difference in ambience between types built only a few years apart. The final year, 1936, saw yet more change as 4-square sliding ventilators were fitted all round. On the LMS this might have been a "Period III" design and it was certainly precursor to Thompson carriages; but on the LNER change was more continuous and, to a large degree, under-appreciated.

A significant step lay in fitting of ventilators in all corridor windows of gangwayed carriages from 1938, which had been achieved in restaurant cars some ten years earlier! Photo: BR, author's collection.

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Some modelling thoughts

This is not the place to dwell on the modelling side but looking at the vehicle history has led to some interesting developments.

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A general view of a D.10C Restaurant 1st from the MJT kit, finished in BR maroon livery. It's an impressive vehicle with a lot of detail and written up in one of the magazines (see the Articles index).

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A closer view of the dining saloon (to use the same term as the LNER). The quality of the MJT etchings is fabulous and you can have so much fun with the interior. I scored the Stones vents onto the glazing.

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The Kirk kit is for the D.144 version with recessed doors and I fitted it with the later steel angle trussing. I've learned more about the LNER RF since making this model and one thing I am not sure about is the moulding for the body sides which were based on Nick Campling's drawing in HCD-1 for the very same numbered carriage as built in 1934. The single LNER photo only showed the corridor side - with the long-standing, shallow Stones vents (which in the plastic moulding are somewhat approximate) at the dining saloon, and along the corridor, deep 4-square sliding vents.

There are no known photographs of the kitchen side (seen here on the kit/model) and it looks like Nick was forced to estimate what had been there and he plumped for the deep square sliding ones, same as on the corridor side. The trouble is that there are still no known pictures for this side from 1934, but several from the years either side - and they show ventilator bonnets still being fitted over the kitchen windows. Later pictures then show:

1935 - a two-stage change. At first the bonnets were retained but the dining saloon was improved with much deeper Stones vents. Later in the year there was another development, keeping the deeper Stones vents but doing away with the bonnets over the kitchen windows and fitting square sliding vents.

1936 - was the final year of construction and this time the kitchen vents were left alone (square sliding) while in the the dining saloon, Stones vents were finally abandoned and large conventional square sliding vents were fitted.

In this light it would appear that Nick's estimate for the kitchen side in 1934 was never actually built. The drawing and model should have ventilator bonnets over the kitchen windows made by filling with Plastikard and attaching the MJT castings.

Casting an eye over this, it's evident that the Kirk kit can be made into a realistic model of any of the builds from 1931-36, by choosing which ventilators on the body you are going to modify. You can also have the earlier trussing (fitted in the first year). Plastic kits do lend themselves to customising like this!

In summing up, there are two points here, the first being that the pace of development increased while D.144 was being built in the years 1934-36. And that as I pen these notes, there aren't yet enough photographs to be definite about every step in the process at that time. I shall keep trying to collect fresh photographs and any help from readers would be welcome, please.

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 or Pantry 3rd.

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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 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 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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To be continued....

The Flying Scotsman: is here.

The restaurant triplet sets, general, "Flying Scotsman" and streamliners: are here.

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