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LNER Restaurant 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 was too limited 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 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.

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

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Pictures of restaurant triplets are rare and this one dates from May 1959, in a King's Cross-Leeds express at Doncaster. It's a first generation 1924 set, Nos E1401-3E, in BR maroon livery.

A distinguishing feature of the original design was the recessed end vestibules at the outer ends, along with the raised grab handle on the left hand side. Both show well in this view. Photo: R.S. Carpenter

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And for immediate comparison, a 1928 set with its flush sides. Actually, this is set Nos 16481-3 which was one of the two built for the "Flying Scostman" (note the absence of table lamps). Photo: Author's collection.

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Now for two pictures of the interiors, beginning a 1924 RTS and 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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When more sets were built in 1928, two were specifically for the "Flying Scotsman" and were given a grandiose Louis XIV style designed by Allom in which, among other things internally, the table lamps were replaced by pelmet lights and in the 1st class dining car, the seats were loose chairs. The latter was to be copied by BR in some of its restaurant cars.

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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 a 1928 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 is carrying destination boards on the roof, including an RTS (it's not quite possible to tell if it's a 1924 or '28 design). 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 a 1924 or '28 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 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 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 1924 Gresley RTS with recessed end vestibule in fine condition, the 3rd class leading in the Down direction 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. It looks like a 1924 one. 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 RTS, either 1924 or '28-design. 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 RTS with the recessed end vestibules clear to see. The formation is the usual (TO-RK-FO) with the higher class at the London buffers end and, through the windows of the 1st class dining car, the table lamps can be seen. If only more train pictures had been taken like this - on a curve with oblique lighting! 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 1928 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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The Silver Jubilee

When the "Silver Jubilee" was introduced in 1935, catering in the new train was pretty conventional via an articulated triplet, albeit a one-off in its styling and, because the train ran out and back daily, only one was required. A significant difference, however, lay in the dimensions and the layout: the dining cars were an inch longer but the kitchen car was increased by almost six feet, from 41' to 45'11". Nearly five feet of that extra space was added to the kitchen.

As for the pantries, only one was provided. It was quite long, but there was only the one set of facilities for preparing food (these arrangements were to be revisited a few years later when, in 1938, the RTS for the all-new "Flying Scotsman" was designed.

The Diagrams previously showed articulated vehicles separately, here they were shown together, which made for a drawing about three feet wide!

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The whole drawing, D.201. In the book we described how the layout was modified and this shows that condition, not as originally built. Note the LNER jargon here, the two dining cars being described as "Restaurant Cars". Author's collection.

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The left hand side, with modified 1st class dining car. Author's collection.

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The right hand side. Author's collection.

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A4 No 2509 Silver Link streaks towards King's Cross at Hadley Wood. The curvature of the line allows the triplet in the middle to be seen fairly well, flanked by the twins (as originally built). The loco is in its second condition with modified handrail, front, and number over the buffers: date is probably summer 1936. Photo: author's collection.

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After withdrawal of the "Silver Jubilee" in WWII, the body of the stock was used in Scotland while the RTS was used on the ECML.

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A3 No 60067 Ladas forges through Wood Green station on the fast line with the 3.30pm KX-Newcastle in July 1952. Most of the carriages were BR Mk.1 with a substitute Gresley BTK at the head, still in varnished teak livery and looking pretty dingy. In the middle of the train, the former "Silver Jubilee" triplet is resplendent in its carmine & cream livery. Photo: B.K.B. Green.

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Sometime the following year, A3 No 60047 Donovan has the 5.35pm KX-Newcastle at Potters Bar. The formation is similar to the previous picture with mainly BR Mk.1s, but a Thompson BTK at the head. The former "Silver Jubilee" triplet still looks in marvellous condition and sits comfortably among the newer, steel-panelled and all-steel stock. Photo: G.W. Goslin.

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The 1938 Flying Scotsman

When the train was modernised in 1938 with all-new carriages, on steel angle trussing (see separate topic, link below), two restaurant triplet sets were supplied, one for each train.

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As with the "Silver Jubilee" triplet, the Diagram for the 1938 "Flying Scotsman" (D.255) was also drawn on a single page and a small part of the kitchen car on my copy has faded away.

The external lengths of the kitchen and dining cars copied the those in the "Silver Jubilee" but the layout of the kitchen car was changed again, in fact it reverted to the 1924 and 1928 triplets by having two pantries. The kitchen in between was made more compact while each pantry was fitted with its own double sinks. A need had been recognised to place greater emphasis on the preparation of food before cooking it.

This was the ultimate design and the best-equipped one. Compared with the original of 1924, the space given to the preparation and cooking of food had been increased by almost five feet, most of it in the so-called pantries, and with better facilities.

Stand-alone kitchen cars of even greater capacity were to be introduced by Thompson, indeed, the LNER had operated several all along, from the former "Flying Scotsman" one of 1914 to conversions for use with excursions, but that is a separate story.

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A grand view of the new train behind blue A4 No 4491 Commonwealth of Australia at Brookman's Park, probably in 1938. The restaurant triplet is clearly visible behind what looks like a stand-in 1st on turnbuckle trussing. Photo: Photomatic.

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The "Northumbrian" is captured at Great Ponton in July 1958 behind a stand-in V2, No 60943. All the visible carriages are BR Mk.1s, except for a recently refurbished RTS from the 1938 "Flying Scotsman". Photo: P.H. Groom.

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The following year an RTS from the ex-1938 "Flying Scotsman" is seen in the Up 9.55am Newcastle-KX at Oakleigh Park behind A4 No 60006 Sir Ralph Wedgewood. Once again, the triplet is surrounded by BR Mk.1 coaches and the whole train is now in BR maroon livery. June 1959. Photo: David Percival.

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LNER Restaurant cars: are here.

The Flying Scotsman: is here.

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