The Flying Bench
|The Flying Bench|
|28 August 1991|
|Built By||Brown Marshalls of Birmingham|
|Designation||Observation Open (!)|
|Seating||14 x 3rd|
This is one of two original open carriages supplied by Brown Marshalls of Birmingham in 1863/4. One vehicle (12) was classified as first class, with padded seat backs and cushions while the other (13) had just plain wooden seating. The old company later constructed a canvas awning on a wrought iron frame to provide some protection from the elements.
Later in the 19th Century the carriages were rebuilt as enclosed observation carriages with glazed windows. After the 1st World War the glazing was removed and half height wire mesh substituted, as seen here.
Number 12 survived into the preservation era. It was restored to its original form, renumbered 7.
A refurbishment in 1968 saw it outshopped in "Cherry Red" chosen by then GM Allan Garraway. The original, spray-painted, was somewhat more garish than that later used. Somewhere since then, it received the standard red as carried by other carriages.
For good reason, it was sometimes known as the "Flying Bench", as it looked like a bug box without a shell - effectively a bench on wheels. Contrary to its looks it actually rides very well and gives (at least from one side!) an unparalleled view of the line.
The 'Bench was not used for normal passenger operations and was therefore only rarely seen. In use, it required to have a 'competent person' in charge when carrying passengers which means it was really only used on special occasions.
It has since been re-allocated the number 12 and then 11, but retained the signage of "7" until its 2007/8 refurbishment
In 2007/8, refurbishment commenced including repainting in Victorian livery and installing a replica of the iron frame, canvas awning and leather aprons.It has buttoned cushions to complete the 19th century aura. In preparation for this the Flying Bench was moved from Minffordd to Boston Lodge on 14 April 2007. The work was completed in September 2009. The current Rule Book gives the number of this carriage as 12.
The vehicle is now in occasional "special service", still requiring to have a 'competent person' in charge when carrying passengers.