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Thompson gangwayed coaches

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63' 3rd

This was the first design to Thompson's new length of 63' and it was a genuine "standard" design with a single Diagram. A change was made to the windows after a few years, from square corners, which went back through LNER to GNR days, to rounded corner to better prevent accumulation of water and corrosion. Other companies had already taken this path and it's curious that Thompson seemed to think that stylistic continuity was desirable in this regard. As was the norm, such a minor change was not covered by a new Diagram - that is to say that a new Diagram number was not issued - but a revised drawing was produced. Both versions are shown below.

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The original Diagram 329 as raised when the first one was built in 1945. Leg room was increased from 6'2" to 6'6" but this came at a price - the weight was higher and the overall capacity was reduced to 7 compartments and only 42 seats. Author's collection.

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A fine view taken of No 1023 as built by BRC&WC in 1946. Panchromatic film was used and on a sunny day, the teak finish looks deceptively pale, especially when compared with the dark images from Orthochromatic film. This is the corridor side with oval windows opposite the lavatories not whited out. The roof was white although I am not convinced that this was normal. Note how dark the solebars appear to be. It's impossible to say what the actual shade was but the effect was to give the carriage a long, sleek look. Photo: LNER, Author's collection.

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An unidentified example of a D.329 TK in service in early BR days. From this angle the two doors in the middle of the coach are evident and absence of entrance via the end vestibules.

Ex-LNER livery was still being carried with small BR-style "E" prefix and suffix. Photo: author's collection.

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D.329 TK No GE13827E is resplendent in BR maroon livery at Ipwich. Photo author's collection.

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The Diagram for D.329 with a revised drawing to show the radiussed corners to the windows.

Some aspects are misleading, however, especially reference to the ones built for the "Flying Scotsman" because they had square cornered windows, as per the written details on the Diagram. Note the greater weight of those coaches, caused by fitting of pressure ventilation and skirting along the solebar. I suspect that they also had heavy bogies. Author's collection.

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In service

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A grand view taken in 1949 of the "Capitals Limited" behind A4 No 60031 Golden Plover with the formation made up entirely with the new coaches. This is the north end of the train with the Aberdeen portion behind the loco. Coaches 3-5 are TKs. Photo: E.R. Wethersett.

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Train pictures in which the radiussed corners can be made out are rare but here is one in a train at Doncaster. V2 No 60938 is heading southwards with an Ordinary Passenger made up with Gresley and Thompson stock:

    TO

3rd Open

Gresley

61'6"

    TK

3rd

Thompson

63'

  BG

bogie van

Gresley

61'6"

    TK

3rd

Gresley

52'6"

It's an unusual formation with no 1st class and the guard riding in the BG. The loco is carrying a March shed plate but was also, briefly, at Doncaster at the time. The 52'6" stock built for the GE Section was dispersed in BR days but it's possible that this may have been an inter-district working. Photo: Eric Treacy.

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Introduction

Most of the early design work was done by Newton although Thompson's name, as the eventual CME, became routine. Michael Harris covered the development very well in his LNER Carriages, David & Charles, 1994, reprinted by Noodle Books, 2011. This will be an overview, based on unpublished material from my own collection.

In his introduction Michael Harris suggested that these designs were "a compromise" and while this may be true in some regards there's no doubt about their excellence - superior to what had come before and, in some aspects, better than what was to follow in the BR Mk.1 coach.

The first design was actually the deal 61'6" BG, in December 1944. The first two prototype passenger carriages with steel-panelling emerged the following year:

D.334 - 61'6"   FK
D.329 - 63'0"   TK

Followed in 1946 by production of:

D.328 - 59'6"   CK
D.329 - 63'0"   TK
D.330 - 63'0"   TO
D.331 - 63'0" BTK
D.332 - 63'0"   FK
D.336 - 63'0"   TK

Divided between York, BRC&WC and Doncaster.

59'6" 1st/3rd Composite

It's convenient to begin with the CK because it shows the approach for both classes, despite the unusual length because the designers had the wisdom, in what was going to be a much built design, to generate a new standard length which combined the different compartment lengths without compromise (which had not been done in Gresley's composites where the 3rd class compartments were reduced and unattractive half or "coupe" compartments were used). Only a few inches were paired off the lavatories. This composite was to be built consistently into BR days in every year from 1946-50.

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D.328 shows the new thinking very well with no entrance via end vestibules but two transverse corridors instead. Indeed, the stock was often titled "transverse corridor" to distinguish from Gresley designs. This concept was not adopted in the BR Mk.1 stock that followed. The ends were still bowed but geometrically. The domed roof end was abolished. By now only Hawksworth on the GWR was employing this feature.

It should be added that the new widths of the compartments, 7'6" for the 1st class and 6'6" for 2nd class were superior to previous designs and that this increase in spaciousness was not employed in the BR Mk.1 stock which followed where compartments were reduced akin to pre-War designs. With the Gresley bogies giving a better ride than early BR designs, the Thompson carriages represented new heights of comfort. Author's collection.

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CK No. 143 in 1946, the first one built, stands in the sunshine at York. The quantum leap from Gresley's teak and steel panelled carriages is evident. Orthochromatic film was still being used so the simulated teak finish translated as almost black. I have darkened the roof slightly to show the features: "lead grey" has been quoted for carriage roofs at the time but I am pretty sure that this one was white (see also a picture to follow of a TK built in 1946). Author's collection.

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An express on the ECML behind A4 No 60025 Falcon. It's 1953 and the stock is being modernised by BR Mk.1s but the carriage with 1st class passengers behind the BR Mk.1 BTK not only remains a Thompson CK but is still carrying the simulated teak finish. Photo: E.R. Wethersett .

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To be continued...


LNER Thompson kitchen & dining cars: are here.

LNER Thompson deal BG: is here.

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