The Flying Bench

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This car was originally allocated the number 12, now carried by a replica "Bugbox". For a period it carried the number 7; now it is allocated number 11. That number is also externally carried by Van 4.
Carriage 11 (The Flying Bench)
200-06 910828wiki.jpg
28 August 1991
Type 4-wheel open ‘bug box’
Seating 13 x 3rd + Guard
Home Railway FR
Status In service, special occasions only
Built by Brown, Marshall & Co
Built 1863/4
Length 12 ft
Frames Wood

The Flying Bench is one of the FR's original carriages from 1864.


At Portmadoc about 1887

The Flying Bench was built by Brown, Marshall & Co of Adderley Park Birmingham. It is a single compartment open carriage with knifeboard seating and a third class of capacity seven each side. It is believed to have been part of the first batch of narrow gauge passenger coaches built in the world for public service (along with Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5), to designs assumed to have been made by C.E. Spooner.

This was one of two open carriages from the original batch. 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.


Outside Boston Lodge just after the 1991 restoration.

Number 12 survived into the preservation era. After the later bodywork collapsed in the 1950s it was restored to its original form and 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. Later, it received the standard red as carried by other carriages.

It has since been re-allocated the number 12 and then 11, but retained the 7 signage 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. It carries the number 11 on the centre of the seat back.

For good reason, it became known as the "Flying Bench". As a bug box without a shell it resembles 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 is not used for normal passenger operations and is therefore only rarely seen. It is required to have a fully qualified guard in charge when carrying passengers which means it is really only used on special occasions.


See also[edit]