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GCR London Extension - express passenger workings

The London Extension is a big subject and I'm going to start with a look at the first years and express passenger traffic to and from Marylebone. Many of the photographs are not dated, or the date is suspect but the locos changed quite a bit at first so I shall try to arrange them initially by approximate year of loco construction.

And focus on the Marylebone end where at first the GCR had to share the Metroplitan's suburban line out of Baker Street and the GCR service was photographed a lot.

New additions placed here temporarily:

The matchboard era: 1911-1926

Robinson's matchboard carriages lasted well into BR days but a useful definition of their era is when they were first choice in the principal expresses - from introduction in 1911 until 1926 when the LNER started supplying Gresley 61'6" carriages.

I've tried to arrange the pictures in chronological order and should say that formations in all transition periods were mixed: pure formations were rare. And that strengtheners were routinely older. All of this can be seen in the following examples.

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At an unknown date, 8B No 192 has an express as modernised by Robinson with 60' matchboard carriages, plus an older strengthener on the rear:

  BTK

3rd brake

    CK

1st/3rd

  RC

1st/3rd restaurant

  BTK

3rd brake

  BCK

1st/3rd brake

     TK?

3rd?*

  * Parker-style

Note that although Robinson's first matchboard carriages included 56' designs, all the ones in this formation are 60' long. The BCK would have been a through carriage. Inevitably, the strengthener added to the rear was a carriage from the previous era although it's hard to tell if it was a Parker-style 50' TK or a BTK?

In a nutshell, it's a matchboard 4-set with single-carriage catering plus a through carriage and a strengthener. Photo: Author's collection.

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Leaving Marylebone is Class 9P No 1169 Lord Faringdon (built 1917) with a heavy express, probably bound for Manchester. The far end of the main formation was cropped by the photographer of which 5 carriages can be seen carrying roof destination boards - in the middle of which it looks like the dining car was substituted by a 3rd Open "Barnum" (without roof boards).

Behind the tender is pair of strengtheners without roof boards in the usual fashion and comprising a matchboard composite and a non-gangwayed 50' London Suburban 3rd. It may have been a summer Saturday or even a picture taken during the Great War but the GCR practice of providing non-gangwayed carriages in its principal expresses was questionable. Photo: C. Golder collection.

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"Improved Director" Class 11F No 510 Princess Mary (built 1920), is approaching Harrow-on-the-Hill with a Down Manchester express. Once again not all of the main formation can be seen although the restaurant car stands out, and once again a strengthener has been placed at the head of the train. In this case it's a gangwayed 50' Parker-style TK. Photo: C. Golder Collection.

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GCR Class 1 No 427 was captured in 1921 when, for a few months, oil firing was tried. The train was probably a Marylebone-Manchester and it's possible to see a 6-coach train with catering, at the head of which three strengtheners without destination boards had been added.

This too may have been a summer Saturday but it's hard to believe that the GCR was still using non-gangwayed strengtheners and, in the middle of this trio, (BTK, F, BTK) is a London Suburban 1st, which would have blocked access to the restaurant car. Photo: C. Golder collection.

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A rare dated picture from March 1923 shows Class 1 No 424 City of Lincoln at Rothley with the 8.45am Marylebone-Manchester express and though it's coming out of a low morning light, much can be identified. All are 60' Robinson matchboards except for the dining car, second behind the tender :

  BTK

3rd brake

    TO

3rd open dining*

    * 12w Parker-style Robinson

  RC

1st/3rd restaurant (1911)

    CK

1st/3rd

  BTK

3rd brake

The carriages at the far end I have resolved by comparing with a later carriage working book. Note how in this important morning express, the restaurant car is supported by a dining car and it's one of the six built in 1906-7 that were 60' long on 6w bogies. Photo: Author's collection.

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An Up express is seen near Rugby in the mid-1920s behind B3 No 6164 Earl Beatty. There isn't much to go on except that that leading carriages contain a mixture of Robinson matchboards and a Parker-style brake-end.

The strengthener behind the tender is a 56' 3rd Open with 48 seats, an early design from 1911. It was unusual and I've put a partly repaired copy of the Diagram below. Photo: W. Leslie Good, author's collection.

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Robinson's TO of 1911 to GCR Diagram 5C5, LNER Code 5064, was built the year after the "Barnums" to a completely different and, on the GCR, novel format - the "Barnums" were 60' long with 64 seats, arranged 2:2 each side with tables in between, what became known as the "tourist" layout.

As can be seen, at 56' this TO was shorter and seated 48 passengers, arranged in the more spacious dining format of 2:1 each side. There were two bays separated by a partition with a door, possibly for smokers and non-smokers (the GCR Diagram did not say),. There was no end vestibule with external doors but, instead, each bay had four external doors placed between the seats. Tables were not fitted and, like in the earlier restaurant cars, they were carried separately and set up for passengers as required. This carriage may appear to have been a novel development by Robinson but it was actually based on GNR carriages of 1905 which ran into Manchester and his design was a very similar copy. The title on the GCR Diagram had originally been THIRD RESTAURANT.

A detail on the Diagram is provision of toplights and Stones ventilators in two windows per side although this may not have been provided originally. Note that the arrangement does not agree with the train photo. I've already mentioned that Diagrams were not as reliable as modellers tend to think.

Robinson also designed a version the same year with his normal glazing/ventilation but 60' long in which the four external doors in the centre of the carriage were replaced by a vestibule with two external doors. In both cases what had started as dining cars became dual-purpose carriages and the example in the mid-1920s train above shows one serving as a strengthener in a non-catering role. Author's collection.

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To sum up re strengthening of the matchboard expresses shown above, they were supported by this mixture of types:

- non-gangwayed London Suburban: T, F
- Parker-style: TK
- matchboard: CK, TO, BTK

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B2 No 5428 City of Liverpool is seen in the mid-1920s with an express near Loughborough. This picture shows a regular formation in the process of being updated, after a fashion. It may be the Bradford express in which four matchboards can still be seen, led by a BCK and possibly a restaurant composite. Next is a cascaded ex-GNR&NER Joint Stock carriage and a single Gresley. Two more matchboards were still on the far end. Photo: JAGH Coltas.

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And finally, an example of an irregularly timetabled working for which a "made-up" formation would be provided. In another view from the mid-1920s, B7 No 5469 is picking up water on Charwelton troughs with an Orient Line boat train from Immingham. Alas, it's not the sharpest of pictures although the bogie van behind the tender is prominent: it's a 50' Parker-style BV designed by Robinson in 1907. The passenger carrying carriages include three Robinson matchboards, two Parker-style carriages, and more matchboards further back, too blurred to identify. In this formation carriages from different eras were mixed. Photo: Real Photographs.

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The first years, 1899-1910

967

The Pollitt Class 13 4-2-2 singles did not last long on the extension and by 1903 had been transferred from Neasden to Leicester from where they could still reach Marylebone, of course, and by 1904 to the Cheshire Lines where the work was less demanding. No 967 is passing West Hampstead in 1901 with the 5.40pm Marylebone-Manchester express. The five carriages included two of the clerestory catering cars. Photo: author's collection.

872

The date is approximately 1900 and Pollitt 4-4-0 Class 11A No 872 is near Northwood with an Up express made up with four gangwayed Parker carriages. This was a common length for some time. Photo: author's collection.

858

Northwood, not far from Pinner was a popular location with photographers and this Up train is headed by another Pollitt Class 11A but with a secondary service. At first the headlamp code was the same for all the GCR trains running along the Metropolitan and it can be hard to distinguish between the long distance flyers and the intermediate secondary services. Photo: author's collection.

1022

In 1901 Robinson introduced the more powerful Class 11B 4-4-0 and No 1022 (built 1902) is approaching with another secondary service. Photo: author's collection.

1033

Class 11B No 1033 was built a month later and is in charge of a heavy gangwayed express made up to 6 carriages, probably from Manchester. Photo: author's collection.

104

Ah, the sleek lines of another Class 11B, so sad that they were all rebuilt with larger boilers as Class 12D; more powerful they may have become, but at the expense of their good looks. The Edwardian era ushered in some of the most handsome locos the country ever saw, especially the 4-4-0s, and this was one of the best. No 104 is approaching with another tidy four-carriage express. Photo: author's collection.

1086

When rebuilding of the 11Bs started, Robinson had already introduced his "Atlantics", initially Class 8B (LNER C4), one of which, No 1086 is passing with a gangwayed express that has been made up to five carriages. Photo: author's collection.

Strengthening by non-gangwayed 50ft clerestories

GCR gangwayed carriages were first built to the Parker style in 1898-1900 and again under Robinson (who maintained the GCR's house style) from 1903-08 and it's convenient to describe both as "Parker-style". Bodies initially had bow ends and were 46'6" long (brake ends with one flat end were 45'9") which Robinson raised (with flat ends across the board) to 50'.

Intended for secondary services, the non-gangwayed clerestory stock of 1903-05 was also 50' long - and followed by the 50' London Suburban designs - but the subject here concerns use up to around 1910 of the clerestory stock as strengtheners to main line expresses. There was a shortage of gangwayed stock and the GCR was cavalier in using non-gangwayed types to lengthen Parker-style 4-sets (which generally had catering), despite the fact that passengers in the strengtheners could not reach the catering, which was unfortunate given the GCR's advertising from 1903 of all its London Extension expresses carrying restaurant cars.

The Parker-style era, before the matchboard stock started arriving from 1910-11, is popular with modellers so here are five examples of strengthening by clerestories. As mentioned above, none of the photographs are dated but it would be fair to say that most of it took place on Fridays and Saturdays, especially in summer. For some modellers this may sound too confusing by half, but the real railway was flexible and these variations do give you scope for varying set formations in a pretty straightforward way.

1024

In the first picture, 11B No 1024 is near Northwood with a Down express based on a 4-set of gangwayed Parker-style carriages. It's hard to decipher but appears to have first- and second-generation brake ends and an unidentified 12w clerestory catering carriage. The train was made up to 5 carriages by adding a 50' non-gangwayed clerestory 3rd behind the tender. Photo: LGRP.

1039

Another 11B, No 1039, is at the same location with another express based on a Parker-style gangwayed 4-set which is too blurred to resolve, and its strengthening comprises three different non-gangwayed types. At the head is an ex-MLSR 6-wheel carriage and a GCR 50' clerestory 3rd. Another strengthener placed on the rear looks like an an ex-MSLR arc-roof design (of 1878-1896). The company was clearly short of main line carriages! Photo: LGRP

258

This express, hauled by Compound 8D No 258, is captioned as a Down Manchester express and its four gangwayed Parker-style carriages include a 3rd Restaurant Car (one of the batch converted from Buffet Cars), strengthened at both ends by 50' clerestory 3rds. The company may have advertised that all its London expresses contained restaurant cars but when passengers in two carriages could not be served, one wonders what the reactions were?

All four compounds were named later, albeit not very attractively to the travelling public, after senior officers of the GCR, this one The Rt.Hon. Viscount Cross G.C.B. G.C.S.I.. Photo: LGRP

8a

This picture is an unfortunately dark contact print showing an unidentified 8B "Atlantic" passing Rickmansworth and captioned as a "Down Sheffield Express". It's another 4-set of gangwayed Parker-style carriages with a 3rd Restaurant Car (another former Buffet Car). On the rear, however, a non-gangwayed 50' clerestory 3rd has been attached. Being on the rear means that this was no last minute strengthener at Marylebone: the train would have been made up this way beforehand. Photo: Author's collection.

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Seen on the line south of Harrow-on-the-Hill with a 7-carriage express is 4-6-0, No 1099 Class 8F (LNER B4 "Immingham") and it's harder to resolve. The loco was built in 1906 and the rear carriages are no longer carrying a two-tone livery, which suggests a date of around 1908-10.

On the rear is a gangwayed Parker-style 4-set carrying a single roof destination board. On the front, three extra carriages have been placed, all carrying the older livery. In the middle of this trio is another gangwayed Parker-style carriage but it is flanked by clerestory brake ends:

BT(5)

50' clerestory

   FK(6)

50'

BTL(4)

50' clerestory

... remainder unclear...

Note the second generation full 1st which has been included. The lavatory 3rd brake was a semi-open type with full access to the lavatories and well suited to longer journeys. I can't see any catering in this train and with such a formation, I don't think that it would have been required.

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The fall of light suggests a service shown in the 1910 WTT, the Sundays-only 11.30am Nottingham-Marylebone, which operated as a semi-fast making limited stops en-route with carriages borrowed for the Sunday. Or it may have a "made-up" formation for a relief or an excursion. As in the previous examples, the company viewed the use of non-gangwayed carriages in long distance trains as fit for purpose. Scenes like this didn't disappear until many more gangwayed carriages were built to the matchboard designs in the period from 1910. Photo: Real Photos.

The Newcastle-Bournemouth

The precursor to the long-lived Newcastle-Bournemouth was established quite early, in 1901, although the timetables referred to through carriages and the main train was known as a York-Bournemouth service.

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The date is 15th April 1911 and in a scene at Ashby Magna, the 10.23am York-Bournemouth is passing, headed by GWR Dean single No 3073 Princess Royal, with Leicester pilot Class 11B, No 1037. How far the single had worked earlier is unknown but my guess is between Oxford-Leicester. A GCR loco would have brought the train from York to Leicester. Photo: author's collection.

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This is a tiny print showing a Dean single at Leicester, date unknown, probably similar to the picture above. At least one Parker carriage can be seen with a 6w strengthener behind the tender. It looks like a GWR one and its addition to a cross-country express beggars belief. All I can do is quote a GWR authority at Pendon who states blithely that the GWR did not rate the cross-country services very highly and thus supplied poorer carriages than the GCR. I once spoke to somebody who travelled on these trains and he recalled that there were definite differences between the carriages provided by the two companies and it helped to seek out the better ones. It looks as if the northbound train had been over-crowded and needing to add a strengthener to a gangwayed express with catering, the GWR had added an old banger - in which the passengers would not be able to reach the catering. It's possible that the GWR, given its provision of motive power in the shape of a single, wouldn't have wanted to add too much weight.

A general question arises about the GWR's choice of motive power for this service bearing in mind the preceding picture with around eight carriages and an 11B 4-4-0 placed in front of the GWR single. The Leicester station picture shows part of the tender of a GCR loco as well. It's possible that assistance was provided where the train left GWR metals for the GCR, ie. at Banbury. The GCR's ruling gradient was 1:176 but the Banbury Branch had some 1:100 where trains leaving Banbury are known to have stalled and my feeling is that GWR singles would not have been up to the task and had to be assisted by a GCR loco, which could have provided by Woodford. Photo: Author's collection.

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An enlargement of the Dean single's name and number plate. Three viewers, John Suckling, Neil Parkhouse and Frank Routledge, identified it as 3056 Wilkinson.

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Later developments

In 1911 the train was modernised with a 6-set of Robinson matchboard carriages (details to follow).

To be continued...

GCR carriages: London Suburban - are here.

GCR carriages: Banrnums - are here.

GCR carriages: Matchboard - are here.

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