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Mansfield-Marylebone express

This picture first appeared in the topic "GCR carriages - Matchboard non-gangwayed" to illustrate those three carriages in the train and I've recaptioned it here because of its relevance as a secondary express.

A grand view of ex-GCR C4 No 1089 (NEA) c1923-4 leaving Marylebone with a secondary Express made up with four non-gangwayed carriages - a London Suburban leading and three Robinson 60' carriages, which are carrying destination boards. It appears to be the 4.30pm express returning to Mansfield (5pm by 1925). Photo: Author's collection.

Click on the image for an enlargement

A closer view of the carriages. Click on the image for an enlargement


  3rd brake

50' London Suburban


  1st/3rd lavatory composite

60' Robinson



60' Robinson


  3rd lavatory brake

60' Robinson

The London Suburban at the head without destination boards could have been substituting for a matchboard. Note how the BTL compares with the CL which has three sets of lavatories. And that's part of how this express (which I described with Clive in LPF-1 under Secondary Expresses because it changed so much - but badly miscaptioned a picture and description of what was later identified as the Bradford-Marylebone express). Well, here is the real thing in the early 1920s and several aspects stand out:

- the train wasn't at this stage deemed important enough to be granted any more than four carriages
- and they were neither gangwayed (where all the carriages had lavatories), nor was the train provided with catering.
- instead, secondary stock was used, with a token number of 1st class seats, but an enhanced number of lavatories, in half of the carriages.

Such a train is easily misinterpreted as a short Outer Suburban behind, for some reason, an Express loco (it's what spotters seeing this apparent contradiction routinely plumped for the fiction of "semi-fast"). Look closer and you see how the GCR and then LNER wanted to provide an express as a statement of intent in the hope that traffic may be generated, but fell between the two stools of an express schedule and secondary carriages (with extra lavatories).

By 1929, the train had received gangwayed carriages (BTK,CK,TK,BTK), and by 1931, a buffet car (see LPF-1 pp.137-141).

C4 6086

In "LNER Passenger Trains & Formations, The Principal Services", (Ian Allan 2013), under Secondary Expresses, we described on pages 137-141 how the "Mansfield, Nottingham and Marylebone" service developed and eventually declined during LNER and BR days. The service was described for four reasons: because there were so many changes over the years; interesting local workings around Nottingham to support the express; addition of a slip coach en route; and variations in catering.

New information has emerged in two areas that cast new light on the key working, the early morning 7.5am express from Mansfield to Marylebone, whose return left London at 4.30pm, later 5pm.

In the account much was made of the above photograph which was captioned as C4 6086 approaching Northolt Junction with the express in August 1930 and what was believed to be a trial working with full catering, including an ex-ECJS kitchen car, as renumbered 52039. The details may be correct but identification of the train as the "Mansfield express" was taken from a previously published account and must now be revised for, by analysis with a solar calculator, the time of day indicates the photograph was taken just before 3pm (BST), which means that the train in the picture would actually have been the 10am Bradford-Marylebone. It is interesting to note that in 1930, this express had such an interesting variety of rolling stock, but the Mansfield express it was not.

This renders the description on p.139 of a short trial with catering around 1930, prior to introduction in 1933 of a buffet car, as inaccurate. However, a source currently being investigated indicates that such a service had taken place during the mid-late1920s. And that not only was full catering provided but the schedule for the Up journey was slashed by half an hour. Alas, it did not last and while details of this brief glimmer of a "proper" express between Mansfield and Marylebone are teased out, readers should note that events were even more complicated than first thought! The really bad news, though, is that we don't yet know of a genuine picture of this service in LNER days...

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LNER Passenger Trains and Formations

The book took 12 years for me and Clive to complete and, though I say so myself, Ian Allan have made a beautiful job of it (see full description and sample pages). Vol.2 about the Secondary Services should follow in a year or so's time.

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