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The Northern Belle

Clive and I wrote up this train under LNER Principal Expresses on pages 166-168. Space didn't allow much to be said about the history of individual carriages so here are some notes about deserving cases. But first, here are the two pictures we ran in the book, chosen for their content.

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A pair of D34s with the "Northern Belle" at Glenfinnan Viaduct in 1934, led by No 9258 Glen Roy. Photo: Cecil Ord collection.

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Another view from 1934 shows the train at Barnard Castle for the first overnight stop. K3 No 1300 has the day portion with the 1st class sleeping cars alongside. Behind the tender is the staff BFK and SLT. Photo: Photomatic.

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New addition

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This isn't really part of my narrative but a loco picture of which I have an original print. The handwriting on the back may be H. Gordon Tidey's but I cannot be sure. Taken on 22nd June 1933 it shows D.49 No 352 The Meynell at Scarborough. It was allocated to York at the time and may have been paired with another example of the class from that shed. Photo: Author's collection.

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The sequence now is from behind the tender which means:

- staff carriages
- catering carriages
- day carriages
- sleeping cars and baggage van.

The formation was manipulated, for cleaning, for example, and was often divided into "day" and "night" portions. I shall add subjects as I am able to work them up. Here are the first three.


The 1st Brake

As a type, the 1st Brake isn't recognised very much by modellers although it was much used on the GN Section and Clive and I described its role in GNML formations under "Principal Services", and in the Leeds-Glasgow express. Michael Harris also described their uses in his final book (1998).

There were four types altogether:

BFK(2)
BFK(3)
BFK(4)
BFK(5)

A key feature wasn't just in their different seating capacity because where there were fewer seats, the van capacity was larger - a significant consideration for the well-heeled who more than most passengers, tended not to travel light. It was also useful where a small number of 1st class seats needed to be added and a lot of van space, rather than a BG.

Another use was with the "Northern Belle" where one required as a day carriage for the staff and the BFK(5) to D.29 was chosen. Only three had been built, Nos 4203/4/6, and either of the first two was employed, placed at the outer end of the train, behind the loco. It's well seen behind K3 No 1300 at Barnard Castle in 1934 (see above). The company decided that as the passenger accommodation was all-1st class, why not treat the staff the same way?

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The Diagram shows a pretty conventional Gresley 61'6" side-door design with the compartments a generous 7'3" wide, compared with 6'2" for the 3rd class. It was built in 1927 during a period when the guard's ducket was omitted. The van space was noticeably small but the staff would have kept their main possessions in the staff sleeping car (which was a 3rd class one - which was probably easier to source). Author's collection.

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An official view of D.29 shows No 4204, one of the two used with the "Northern Belle". Orthochromatic film was used so the beauty of the teak panelling and how well it was matched shows very well. These carriages would still have been relatively new when placed in the "Northern Belle" and it's not hard to imagine how pleased the staff would have been.

The abundance of external doors may have been useful for main line services but the drawback here is evident with restricted views out of the compartments. End-vestibule designs (with picture windows in the compartments as well) were more suitable but at the time, only provided in Open carriages. Author's collection.

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The 3rd class sleeping car

At first, sleeping cars were 1st class and when the LNER began serving 3rd class passengers, the sleeping cars were convertible for day or night use. In 1931 proper night-only compartments were introduced and the length extended to 66'6". This was quite an important type with a far higher capacity than the 1st class sleeping cars and it was to do sterling service through LNER and BR days. They lasted until the early 1960s.

One was used in the "Northern Belle" for the staff. So many 1st class sleeping cars were required for the paying passengers that the company was forced to provide a 3rd class one for the staff, although it was a recently-built one with non-convertible compartments, again with 4 bunks in each one (the 1st class cars had single berths). It could accommodate 32 individuals and I imagine that there may have been a pecking order in the "Belle" with the more senior staff sharing in pairs, or even been granted single occupancy.

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The Diagram shows the new policy of fixed compartments and the increased length of 66'6". Another feature was a change from separate lavatories and toilets on opposite sides of the corridor to both together - but still with separate doors. Albeit clumsy to a modern eye, it would have maximised their usefulness, especially in normal service where there could be 32 passengers vying to use them.

Ten were built in 1931, nos. 1336-44 and 1346. The one chosen for the "Northem Belle" in 1934 was 1344. Author's collection.

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The view of No 1336 from the cabin side shows how wide the four-berth compartments were with a single small window between the berths. The length of 66'6" is not immediately apparent. It was one of the first designs to have steel angle trussing. Bogies were the 8'6" heavy type. Darlington Engineer's Office, author's collection.

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The other side, the corridor side, looks more familiar and its length shows, too. These carriages were longer than the 12w restaurant cars built by the GNR (65'6"). York Drawing Office, author's collection.

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And here is a picture of No 1344, the one used with the "Northern Belle" in 1934. Note that the cabin windows had droplights, several of which are partially lowered, and that they were vertical (hence the disparity with the radiussed body). The ventilation is barely visible in the official picture and can can be identified here as Stone's with the droplight pane going all the way behind it. Some subtle adjustment was possible. Real Photographs, author's collection.

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Finally, a BR-period view of E1342E at Doncaster Works, seen from the corridor side in BR maroon livery, complete with BR roundel as befitted a carriage with a certain pedigree. Photo: R.S. Carpenter.

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Two pictures of the interior have survived although both have required extensive repair and correction. The subject was quite difficult, after all, and drawing office prints suffered handling damage. This is the Doncaster version which was taken during the day, hence the unkind reflections in the mirror on the door. The four fixed berths can be seen. Author's collection.

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The second view was taken by York with no daylight, hence the neutral reflection in the mirror on the door. It's a more pleasing picture which also shows the blankets. Only 1st class passengers were provided with sheets.. Also, whereas the higher class was provided with two pillows, the lower class got a single one, but so large that it could be folded. Author's collection.

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The Kitchen Car

This can be seen in the above pictures, third carriage in the train behind the loco. It was a 53'6" carriage built in 1914 for the "Flying Scotsman" and all-steel following public concern after disastrous fires which took many lives after accidents. Actually, some of the framing around the recessed doors was wooden and it was not a monocoque design: trussing was still required. Three were built, at York, one acting as a spare. Here is the Diagram:

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Diagram EC.80A showing the layout with twin pantries, one for each class: presumably different standards of food were carried; this division was not to be repeated. At one end there was a compartment and lavatory for the staff. Numbers as built were 211-213. Source: Author's collection.

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This picture from around 1923 shows the "Flying Scotsman" at Brayton Jc hauled by C1 No 251. Fourth behind the tender is one of the Kitchen Cars. It's rather clean and the light gives the impression of a flush-sided carriage: you have to look closely to see the beading. Photo: LGRP.

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This view was taken in 1929 after the kitchen cars had been made redundant by construction of restaurant triplet sets and cascaded, two to the GN Section (Nos 42182 and 42183) and one to the GC Section (No 52039). Ken Hoole in his book about ECJS carriages states that the renumbering is unclear as to which car became which. Photo: Author's collection.

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I've added this detail view to show the beading, which being made of steel strip, was flat. The company went to some trouble to maintain its house style of panelled teak and this "beading" would have been screwed onto the sides. Photo: Author's collection.

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In service - When built these Kitchen Cars served in the "Flying Scotsman" flanked by dining cars to EC.29A and EC.75A. After cascading they would have been used with top-end excursions in which meals were served and were thus made up with open carriages.

When the "Northern Belle" started running one was employed at the staff end of the train, in 1933 being No 42183. In the train photos above, it can be seen as the third carriage behind the tender.

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In this view, also from 1934, the day portion of the "Northern Belle" is crossing Glenfinnan Viaduct behind two D34s with No 9221 Glen Orchy leading. Photo: Photomatic.

The Kitchen car is third from the rear. The carriages, reading from the far end, are:

BFK, SLT, RK, FO, FO, TK*, FSal**, BG
*  Toilet 3rd D.23A
** 1st Saloon ex-GNR

The modelling options - An etched brass kit is available from RDEB (via Wizard Models).

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