Carriage 101

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(Redirected from Carriage 123)
Carriage 101
Type Observation Brake Third
Seating 30 x 3rd
Home Railway FR
Status Under Overhaul
Built by FR Co.
Built 1970
2010/11 Rebuilt as 123
Length 37 ft 5 in
Frames Steel

Carriage 101 (numbered 123 between 2011 and 2021) is third class observation saloon from the Centenary stock series.




In the 1960s the Festiniog Railway began construction of a series of modern wooden bodied coaches at Boston Lodge. The profile was based on that of the restored former Lynton and Barnstaple Carriage 14 hence these coaches are known on the railway as "The Barns". Carriage 101 was built in 1970 as first class observation car with guard's van and luggage area.

101 in cherry red livery 25th April 1970

1980s rebuild[edit]

The inset 1986 view shows the carriage fitted with drop lights. At this time sliding doors were still fitted. However during the 1990s, the internal partitions in the guard's area were removed and double doors with windows replaced the sliding doors. The livery is the then-standard all-over maroon, large "1" transfer on the door and "Observation Carriage" transfers on the side. The bracket for the reservation board is also visible.

During this period, although not visible in this shot, the Ffestiniog Railway was part of the Red Star parcels network and a maroon star was painted on the sliding door in the guards area.

Harbour Station

Repaint in 1987[edit]

In this view, 101 is shown in the maroon and cream "Mountain Prince" livery first applied in 1987. "First" transfers are applied to the doors and the bracket for the reservation board has been removed. The double doors in the guard's area are visible.

Transfer to Welsh Highland[edit]

Following repainting, 2005
In use on normal service on the WHR(C)

Withdrawn August 2005 following the introduction of Carriage 102. Repainted September 2005, and re-entered traffic on the WHR(C) in April 2006, having been moved to Dinas on 4th February 2006.

At the beginning of the 2007 season the seating accommodation was downgraded to Third Class.


Carriage 101 (1968) undergoing conversion to 123

After the arrival of a dedicated WHR Observation Carriage; Carriage 2100 in February 2009, 101 was no longer used on WHR service trains. Instead it was occasionally used when required as extra coaching stock for route learning and other special trains to Hafod-y-Llyn and later to Pont Croesor. Unlike the original carriage 100 (which became Carriage 1000) it was not transferred to departmental stock.

During 2009 the question was raised as to why Barn observation Carriage 101 was being left out of use in the open at Dinas, where it would suffer the same eventual demise as its sister Carriage 1000, when the FR was short of carriages.

Carriage 101 was therefore brought back to Boston Lodge by rail in early November 2009 and plans drawn up to refurbish it into an all 3rd saloon. The refurbished carriage was renumbered Carriage 123, so as to leave the number 101 available for a future new first class observation carriage (the number 123 is a play on 1st to 3rd!).

Work was completed with volunteer labour only and was begun in early 2010. By the end of March 2011 work was nearing completion.

The biggest difference is that the carriage has been turned so that the observation window faces Blaenau. Work included the renewing of some of the bodywork and frame and the moving of the partition with the guard's van to create a large area with tip-up seats next to the double doors in order to accommodate wheelchairs. The carriage is now double glazed, insulated and features an Eberspächer heating system. Electrically the carriage has also been modified to act as "converter" between new and old style electric systems - necessary as the vintage carriages which will be coupled above 123 only have the old style system. Note that all lighting in the saloon is by LEDs, this should reduce power consumption and is already leading the way for other carriages to be fitted with LED lighting.

The seating arrangement is such that there are two seats each side facing inwards at the observation end and then two rows of three seats (two plus one) looking through the observation window. Between the end seats is a table on which is engraved a map of the line. Directly above this there is a centre moulding on the ceiling carrying the inscription "Reborn 2011".

As with Van 5 there is only a corridor connection at the bottom end, meaning that the carriage must be at the top end of a rake of corridor carriages. Once complete, Van 5 was withdrawn from service for extensive remedial work.

Re-entry into traffic[edit]

123 provisionally entered traffic on the 25th March 2011, making an appearance on the Porthmadog - Blaenau Ffestiniog - Caernarfon - Porthmadog "Eryri Venturer" Charter. Although largely complete, some work was still required on the electrical systems. After this appearance the carriage re-entered the works for final completion before entering regular traffic on the 17th April 2011.

Until 2015 carriage 123 was regularly used on the B set during high summer, providing the set with its wheelchair accommodation. Out of the summer it could be seen in use as a spare reinforcing one of the other two sets. During 2015 it saw use as a spare whilst in 2016 it formed part of C set.

2020 Overhaul[edit]

After 10 years of heavy use, Carriage 123 was becoming tired and starting to suffer from body rot around the old guards' compartment. Following the completion of Carriage 102's rebuild, in March 2020 it entered the carriage works for overhaul, which will be undertaken by volunteers, much like 102. The body will require major repairs to the guards's van area and the opportunity is being taken to rebuild this area to be the same as carriage 102. This will see the removal of the double doors at the rear of the passenger saloon. Additional work to the windows and roof is being undertaken to keep the carriage watertight.[1][2] After overhaul, it will then supplement 102 so that both of the main FR carriage sets have a top end observation car.[3] The overhaul work was expected to take around a year to complete, but was delayed by Covid-19. Following completion of the rebuild the carriage will return to its former identity of 101.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Carriage Works", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 248, page(s): 557
  2. ^ "Carriage Works", Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 249, page(s): 655
  3. ^ Post on Allison Jones' Facebook
  4. ^ 2021 Rule book ammendments