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LNER 56'6" BG to D.44

This is a cautionary tale and example of how things can get lost over the years. Seven of these BGs were produced in 1926 and in his last book Michael Harris (1998) described them as "possibly built on the underframes of former GCR-built ambulance train vehicles which were purchased by the LNER from a contractor". This wasn't the only time that dear old Michael when stumped, plumped for this kind of explanation. Alarm bells should have rung because the GCR never built to this length and the bowstring trussing was NER-style. Here's the Diagram:

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They had in fact been built on the underframes of York-built ECJS 56'6" sleeping cars during the early LNER's attempt to update that fleet and present a consistent, corporate image soon after the Grouping. The sleeping cars needed modernising anyway and when a large batch was built new for a predominantly 1st class market, many of the older ones were withdrawn and EC.64 on bowstring trussing was chosen for conversion to BGs - for the EC fleet. There's quite a long story here that's going to Back Track but suffice to say, they were a quantum leap from the preceding 56'6" BGs (see separate topic). Three old-fashioned features had been abandoned in D.43 and the new length of 61'6":

- the plug doors (in favour of hinged double doors)
- skylights on the roof (in favour of toplights under the cornice)
- the ugly Howlden ducket (in fact no ducket was provided for the guard at all).

The new body set the trend for all future BGs for the next twenty years and the conversions were in the same mould and also put in the ECJS fleet, numbered 153-9. The later Thompson/BR numbers were 70029-35, eventually with "E" prefix and suffix.

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This undated view was taken during the late 1930s and shows A1 No 2548 Galtee More (GRA) at Brookmans Park with an Up express. It's an ECML formation and quite a prestigious one, despite only a single destination board on the roof. Many of the nine carriages are modern ones on steel-angle trussing, there are two 1st class carriages, and catering has been provided by a 12-wheel restaurant car flanked either side by dining cars. And behind the tender, an EC BG instead of a BTK. The bowstring trussing is clearly visible. Photo: G.R. Griggs, Photomatic.

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In service

After a spell running with top flight expresses, these BGs settled down in the heavy Anglo-Scottish parcels traffic, operating with long distance overnight trains, such as the sleepers, and the Saturdays-only KX 8.15pm EC Parcels. In all three cases, D.44 vans were marshalled in pairs: not to the same destinations, but quite visibly setting off together. They came back from their far-flung destinations by an assortment of services, including a meandering one via Edinburgh, St.Boswells and Berwick which would have involved attachment to some low-level trains.

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This example, No E70032E, was captured at High Meads on 18th September 1960. Still in good running order.

The bowstring trussing shows well, as do the Fox bogies, heavy wooden headstocks (the solebars were steel) and oval buffers. Note the inward-opening guard's door.

The van makes a pleasing change from the 61'6" design and there is rumour that an etched brass kit may appear in the fullness of time.

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Yet more conversions

In 1935 four more conversions were made, again from pre-Grouping sleeping cars but this time there were two lengths, 58'6" (1) and 56'6" (3). Here are the two diagrams:

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The similarity to established practice is evident and the York-style trussing isn't immediately obvious. The quartet was for the GN Section and the running numbers were 4194-4197, and post-Thompson, 70396-70399.

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In service

Alas, I cannot yet find a single illustration of these four vans and the only roster in the GNML Carriage Working book for 1939 was as part of the formation of a KX-West Riding express; quite an honour really. Actually, I have two pictures of this express but the BG is a faint smudge a long way from the camera. The others would have served in parcels traffic on the GN Section in the classic manner, attached to secondary expresses and Ordinary Passengers of which the following is a good example:

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K3 1125 swings pass Brookmans Park with an Ordinary Passenger train of three carriages, with various bogie vans for and aft. At the head are two 61'6" BGs, D.43 and all-steel D.45, with an ex-GNR 51'1 1/2" BV in between. Two more bogie vans on the rear are too blurred to identify.

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Related topics:

LNER clerestory BGs: is here.

Modelling the ECJS BG: is here.

ECJS and GNR 55'6" BG: is here.

Modelling the Howlden 45ft BV: is here.

Modelling the all-steel BG: is here.

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