Quick search:

Full search

New additions placed here temporarily:

Distribution of Buffet Cars on the LNER

There were two distinct periods and it can look complicated because they overlapped. The geographical distributions were also quite distinct.

Chronological overview

The first period, when the buffet conversions were being produced, this was the position:

1932-35

WHERE DEPLOYED

Pre-Group converted

-----------------------------

-----------------------------

GN Section

10

ex-GNR and ex-GN&NER JS   (two 52'6" and eight 58'6") *

NE Area

  6

ex-NER

GE Section

  3

ex-GER

GC Section

  2 **

ex-GNR

SS Area

  0

  -

NS Area

  0

  -

-----------------------------

-----------------------------

TOTAL

21

* The first two conversions, 52'6" long, were converted back to TOs at an unknown date in the 1930s.
** Another typo in Clive Carter's article in Back Track where "8" was stated.

The second period, when the LNER "standard" additions were made (and the two earlier prototypes) was quite different. Note that the two types - conversions and LNER "standards" - were almost equal in numbers although there are more illustrations in service of the former.

1935-37

WHERE DEPLOYED

LNER D.167/185

-----------------------------

-----------------------

GN Section

  1

NE Area

16 *

GE Section

  7

GC Section

  1

SS Area

  1*

NS Area

  0

-----------------------------

-----------------------

TOTAL

26

* includes the two prototypes built earlier.

I have not included the green & cream Tourist Train Buffet Cars to D.168 because they were tied up in fairly fixed formations. Note how as the RB fleets were established, most of the newly built ones to LNER D.167 were taken by two areas: the NE and East Anglia. The regional variations really stand out:

Geographical overview

NE Area - invested most heavily in the new "standard" RB and with the conversions, ended up with by far the largest fleet totalling 22 independent buffet cars in timetabled and excursion trains.

GN Section - was quite different. It remained a big user of pre-Grouping conversions, for timetabled trains and excursions, and for the latter it added a large number of green & cream Tourist Train Sets - actually the largest number and much used out of London and the West Riding.

GE Section - may be described as falling between the above and the size of its RB fleet was increased significantly by adding the second largest number of newly-built LNER D.167. Clive described much use in timetabled services.

GC Section - was different again: it remained a low user of either type of RB in timetabled services and, for excursions, it had a lot of ex-GCR matchboard restaurant cars which it used (and eventually converted to Kitchen Cars). It also used Tourist Train Sets by borrowing from the pool based in the GN Section: this was another reason why that Section's allocation was so large [see separate topic about the TTS].

Scotland - differed most of all for even less use was made of independent buffet cars, a single D.167 being employed in a complex timetabled roster on the Southern Scottish Area (SSA, also called the NB Section). Instead, a goodly number of Tourist Train Sets was taken for excursions and used quite imaginatively [see separate topic about the TTS]. I wouldn't be surprised is they were borrowed by the NSA when required, in the same way that the GC Section borrowed the GN Section's.

The main point is that when the LNER started providing Buffet Cars between 1932-37, and Thompson later added more of course, their use was much more varied than has been generally recognised. And for modellers there's another problem: how were RBs marshalled in the formations?

Trains with Buffet Cars

Analysis of the rosters for the GN Section is possible for 1939 and it shows:
  5 - with timetabled trains (all conversions)
  4 - excursion/spare (conversions and the only new one to D.167).

Note how the timetabled trains got conversions. There was a hint of this in the NE Area which I have yet to analyse. However there were two different kinds of deployment with the timetabled trains and although this may also have applied to excursions, info there is currently lacking:

RB inside a formation

The article in Back Track gave details of timetabled use of buffet cars but the rosters often did not say exactly where they were placed in a formation and I am not sure how common it was to place an RB in the middle of a formation. In "LNER Trains & Formations - Principal Services" we explored this to a degree and in the two examples we described, both services were in relatively intensive multiple circuits.

- The GN Section's "Cambridge Beer Trains" where a pre-Grouping conversion was placed in the middle of the train.

- The NE Area where a Newcastle-Middlesbrough service was set up with a D.167 RB in the middle of the formation.

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

One of the illustrations in "LNER Passenger Trains & Formations" of the ground-breaking "Beer trains" for which by 1937, two formations were employed: 5 and 7 carriages long, together making 10 trips a day, still all-ex-GNR with a fixed buffet conversion inside. C1 4-4-2 No 4436 is passing Meldreth with the shorter formation. Photo: E.R. Wethersett.

Click on the image for an enlargement

RB outside a formation

I am beginning to think that this was the most common arrangement in LNER days. To increase their utilisation, RBs were placed outside a timetabled formation so that, on arrival, the catering could be taken off and sent back with another train. It also enabled the staff to work back more quickly. Buffet cars were also placed outside a formation if such catering was only offered for part of the way. Two examples we described were:

- The NE Area's Liverpool-Newcastle service where an ex-NER conversion was added for a leg between Newcastle-Leeds.

- The GN Section's four-portion 4.5pm train from King's Cross where an ex-GNR/JS conversion went to Cleethorpes.

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

The aforementioned 4.5pm train from King's Cross heads north behind A4 No 2510 Quicksilver. The ex-GNR RB is at the head of the train, attached to a portion for Cleethorpes. A bogie van was added behind the tender. Photo: Photomatic.

Click on the image for an enlargement

8.45am KX-Doncaster

There is no known photograph of this working but I'm going to go to town on it because there is such a story, showing what a secondary express on the GN Section could actually look like, and why. Here is the roster from the 1939 (summer) Carriage Working book:

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

Before exploring the carriages, this was the raison d'etre for this working:

- although classed as an Express, the departure at 8.45am connected almost all the stations and the 7 carriages would have been taken by a C1 large Atlantic, or a mixed traffic 2-6-0.
- buffet catering was added as a "breakfast car".
- parcels traffic on this train would have been heavy and two bogie vans were provided, one at each end of the train.

The general formation - comprised a core of 4 carriages (TK, TK, TK, FK) all of which had been modernised with Gresley 61'6" stock built in 1937-38.

The bogie vans - were the old stalwart, ex-GNR 56'6" BGs.

The buffet car - this being the GN Section where nearly all the RBs were conversions, it was covered by a 58'6" one ex-GN/JS. It was placed outside the passenger carriages and I'll describe how it was handled in a moment.

On Mondays only - the train was strengthened, a common practice around the weekend, and two carriages was quite generous. I've described before how strengtheners were often drawn from the pool of older carriages, no longer in top flight service and you have to look hard to identify this pair of "Thirds". They were actually 3rd Opens built by Howlden c1905 with a 50'10 1/2" body and clerestory roof. On a Monday they would really have stood out, but passengers were used to mixtures of stock and these would have been comfortable, equipped with tables and right next to the buffet car. This was inspired rostering.

What happened after arrival at Doncaster? - two things: the buffet car and and its neighbouring BG were taken away by the station pilot, to be returned to London. The main body of the train, however (the four passenger carriages and BG on the rear) was taken on to York.

The buffet car's Up working - was made by hitching it to the rear of a train bound for King's Cross, which was the 1.17pm from Leeds Central, another secondary express, which called at Doncaster two hours after the RB had arrived. This time the buffet car was placed on the rear of the train, a relatively simple manoeuvre - with some bogie vans added outside it. It was a classic GN Section working for which seven minutes were allowed.

Did this train need catering? - arguably, no, but that would be to misunderstand this roster, the main purpose being for the buffet car to serve as a breakfast car with the 8.45am from King's Cross to Doncaster. The return working was simply a convenient way of getting it - and its steward - back to London in the space of a single shift. The man would have taken his lunch break at Doncaster and it all dovetailed well.

There was another RB working at KX which went as far as Peterborough and came back later attached to another train. I'll save that one for another day!

Here is an illustration of the same practice on the GE Section:

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

Rebuilt ex-GER B12 No 8562 at an unknown location in the late 1930s with the 11.30am Liverpool St.-Ipswich express, a 10-coach formation with an LNER "standard" RB outside it, and a short NPCS van on the rear. All the visible carriages are ex-GER, except for the RB which would have been serving passengers over lunch. The calibre of this train had not merited a restaurant car and an RB would have been a good step forward. It would have been worked back in similar fashion with a different train. Note the destination board.

The running number of the RB is not quite legible but may have been 649 (of 1937).

For passengers, a trek through up to 10 swaying carriages for a cuppa and some cake may not have been much fun, and for modellers, not what they may have been presuming. Is this another example of preconceived opinion being upset by how railways actually did things? Ooh-er!

Photo: Author's collection, LNER Press Section, E.R. Wethersett.

Click on the image for an enlargement


LNER Buffet Cars - 61'6"

If you thought that the history of the conversions in 1932-35 was complicated, so were the so-called "standard" 61'6" designs when they came along and the records are confusing. I'm sorry to keep making the point about the unreliability of records because all such stuff is man-made and liable to unrecorded progress and human error. They are not the proverbial tablets of stone which some people believe them to be.

Michael Harris covered the "standard" 61'6" design in his two books of 1975 and 1995 (reprinted in 2011) and so did Clive Carter in Back Track January 1995 (which also embraced all the conversions) so, to avoid duplication, I am going to focus on how it started, some grey areas and errors. There's long been a Kirk kit and now there's a RTR model from Hornby which I shall address obliquely by describing how the real thing looked.

The first 61'6" buffet cars

The first example of D.167 was built in 1933 in the middle of the period when shorter pre-Group carriages were being converted and for several years it was a one off and conversions continued to be made. Indeed, it was followed in 1934 by conversion of an LNER-built 61'6" carriage, to D.185. Here are the two Diagrams alongside each other:

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

Click on the image for an enlargement

These developments have never been explained before. Internally, the two designs were very similar and they clearly embraced the same thinking. The main difference was in the provision of doors and windows in which regard the conversion was poorer by having fewer windows opposite the kitchen and bar and the external door was placed conventionally in the end vestibule. D.167 was more elegant with more windows and the entrance door at that end was placed further up the carriage and closer to the open/dining area. Both had cooking by gas. They were in fact a pair of prototypes.

In this period of conversions - when money was still tight - a custom-built buffet car may have been seen as unnecessarily expensive and Gresley wanted to explore the recently started concept that was proceeding well - of conversion from already extant carriages - but to the modern length. The one he chose was a D.27A 3rd Open dining car, albeit only built a few years ago, in 1930. The Diagram 27 series of dining cars (built to run with RFs) dated back to the first years after the Grouping and advanced through D.27/A/B/C as it became more modern - the same as all catering carriage designs for the best expresses. Gresley would have viewed the earlier ones as suitable candidates for replacement sooner or later and conversion to buffet cars would have been a viable option.

One also has to bear in mind that cost wasn't the only factor. When the LNER introduced buffet cars in 1932 it was feeling its way - indeed, the first two conversions were of carriages only 52'6" long. Once in service the LNER learned that they were so popular that it converted them back to TOs and went over to converting 58'6" designs instead. This was thwarted in the NE Area where nothing longer than 53'6" was available. As the LNER warmed to the concept and that buffet cars had as much PR value as restaurant cars, it seems that the desire to build elegant buffets increased and, for conversions, faded.

Production to D.167 launched

Hence conversion of pre-Grouping carriages ended in 1935 when the last two were produced and construction of brand-new RBs to D.167 kicked off as follows:

1935 -   7
1936 -   4
1937 - 15

Another mover in this sequence of events was the well-described keenness of the NEA to develop services with RBs. In other words, the years 1932-35 saw the tentative first steps and then the blossoming of buffet cars on the LNER.

Gas or electric cooking?

Michael Harris wrote that gas cooking was fitted until 1935 when it went electric, which implies that only the prototype had gas cooking. When he reproduced the Diagram for D.167, which Clive Carter also reproduced, it only referred to the prototype of 1933, No 32372. I happen to have a latter issue of that Diagram in which a lot more detail was added and by combining with other sources the following summary is possible:

1933

32372

gas

light bogies

1934

-

-

-

1935

21608-11, 648

gas*

light bogies

1936

24079-82

electric

heavy bogies

1937

43138, 24275-81, 641-4, 649-50**, 51769

electric

heavy bogies

* Michael Harris described construction from 1935 having gone "all-electric". I don't know what his source was but the Diagram (above) and photo (below) show that gas continued to be used and the change didn't take place until 1936.

** In the Back Track article there is a typo and 649-50 are shown as having been built in "1935" instead of 1937.

The first production batch

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

- of 1935 is illustrated by this official picture of No 648 and is dated "6/1935". It was fitted with gas cooking whose cylinders are barely visible in the centre of the underframe, between the battery boxes. The gas gauge, however, is clearly seen on the solebar with the vacuum pipe dipping below it. Hanging down from the middle of the underframe is the release valve for condensation in the steam heat pipe. Note the 4-square toplights.

Bogies were the 8'6" light type. Photo: LNER D.O. York Neg. Author's collection.

Click on the image for an enlargement

The second production batch - of 1936, I have three views of the same example:

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

Click on the image for an enlargement

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

Click on the image for an enlargement

The two ex-works photographs show the corridor side of RB No 24082 from 1936 and the service picture, the kitchen side with the screened windows catching the light. All three views show electric cooking.

Bogies are the 8'6" heavy type which is not surprising given that most of D.167 with electric cooking was almost 5 tons heavier while two (Nos 43138 and 51769) were 6 tons heavier.

The third production batch - of 1937 can be seen in the official view of No 24280:

Click for full size image in a pop-up window. Use 'X' to close

It too was fitted with electric cooking and heavy bogies. The screening of the catering windows appears to differ in intensity but was probably just the result of differing back lighting. Photo: Author's collection.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Summary of details and fittings

Body - the Diagram for D.167 shows toplights of the 3-rectangular type and it is possible that this was applied to the first one built in 1933 (32372), but all the photographs I have seen of subsequent builds show the later 4-square type.

Glazing - windows by the kitchen were screened pale white by the LNER (note that the Hornby model has clear textured glass as fitted to a preserved example on the SVR). The two windows on the corridor side opposite the kitchen were not screened in LNER days (that changed when BR applied screening).

Roof - two of the ex-works pictures show the buffet cars with a pristine roof in which most of the fittings are whited out but the others show the arrangements quite well. The key fitting was the pair of hard-to-describe rectangular vents which were a kind of double triangle with baffles on the outer ends which used the Venturi effect to create a draught. I described construction of these in the model article about about Gresley Kitchen Cars (note that the Hornby model has BR-fitted circular Vent-Axias).

roof

The best way I can illustrate the above is by showing how I approximated the fitting on a 4mm scale model of a Gresley Kitchen Car where several were fitted (the more powerful circular fans were directly over the ovens).

Underframe - See above re the type of cooking. There were extensive changes in BR days as the arrangements were modernised.

Bogies under the cars originally built 1933-35 with gas cooking were the light type. From 1936-37 when cooking was electric heavy bogies were fitted.


To be continued re the BR period...


LNER buffet cars from conversions: are here.

Latest News

Leeds - West Riding

Leeds map

A new section with its own menu.

Read more ...

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.

Copyright © S.W.Banks 2018    Privacy Policy    Terms & Conditions    Design by PageUp