I have been trying without success to identify a carriage which appears in the background of several pre-1939 photographs of the "Colonel Stephens" crane. An example is Plate 84 of "Branch Lines around Portmadoc" published by Middleton Press. The location is at the rear of the loco sheds near Boston Lodge Halt.
The carriage could be described as a "bogie quarrymens". It has full height doors and single small windows between them (not quarterlights), but otherwise appears to be similar to the NWNGR 'Summer' carriages built by Ashbury. It does not appear to be listed by J I C Boyd in either "Narrow Gauge Railways in South Caernarvonshire - Vol 1" or "The Festiniog Railway". It is not one of Festiniog Railway nos 21 and 22, both of which had conventional quarterlights.
It could possibly be one of the NWNGR carriages described as "Workman's Cars", but is of very different appearance to the Metropolitan coach (NWNGR No 7) illustrated in "Narrow Gauge Railways in South Caernarvonshire - Vol 1". There is a reference in "Narrow Gauge Railways in South Caernarvonshire - Vol 1" to an agreement with the Board of Trade to withdraw the four-wheeled carriages on 31st March 1897 and replace them with "a new large coach", which could be the carriage in question. However, the Festipedia list of NWNGR carriages does not include any new carriages between the arrival of the "Summer" carriages in 1894 and the Pickering brake composites in 1907.
Can someone more knowledgable in carriage matters enlighten me?
I have passed this query to the WHR e-group, where theres more likely to be an answer. Dont get me wrong when I say the wiki isnt for questions like this - it is more a repository of information. I will repost any replies I get back to this page. From what I remember there is some confusion caused by rebuilding of carriages, and no specific dates when these happened. A good background to this is the story of the Buffet Car,published by WHRL, where the writer has done some incredible work with old photos to establish which carriage is which in certain pictures. I am no expert but I would stab a guess at it being Carriage 22, an FR carriage that later had a pronounced sag, giving rise to the nickname the Banana coach --Keith (talk) 2009-6-22T20:44:52 (UTC)
Less than an hour later, and a response from two people "in the know", and my "22" idea thrown out! If you are not already, then I would suggest memebership of the forum, try this link. The other one is the e-groups, which can be found at this link
From Peter Liddell This is the so-called "Mystery Carriage", regarding which there have been many postings on this and other groups over the years - I particularly remember a lengthy exchange on the Forum (look for "Mystery NWNG Carriage" under "The Old WHR").
To my knowledge, whilst there are many theories, there still is no satisfactory explanation as to which carriage this was and where it came from. Nevertheless, it was there and was photographed by several people between 1930 and 1935 - perhaps one day the truth will out???
From Ben Fisher
There has been extensive head-scratching of "the carriage in picture 84" in several places ever since that book came out, the most recent and dare I say probably the most credible (thanks to contributions from Peter Liddell and David Woodcock, who many will be aware know their stuff) may be this thread on the forums
(for forums members, try this link)
For those who aren't members, the essential points arising are:
1) It looked like this in 1935: [open in new window]
2) It really, definitely, is not FR 21 or 22.
3) NWNGR no. 3 is the best candidate, and was an Ashbury despite Boyd listing it as a Cleminson (this gets a bit complicated!).
4) Why it was never photographed in service is a mystery (but my pet theory involves Bryngwyn).
5) Arrival at BL and scrapping are also mysterious, but it may have donated some doors to other carriages.