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General[edit]

All of the carriages owned by the Welsh Highland Railway from its inception in 1922 originated on the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways, (NWNGR).

When these carriages passed to the WHR they were renumbered in a common series with the Festiniog Railway. WHR carriage numbers started at '23', following on from the second of the two F.R. Ashbury bogie carriages, number '22'.

According to contemporary reports, eleven carriages remained at Dinas in 1922.

The NWNGR had acquired carriages as follows: 1877 - two Brake 1st/3rd composites from Ashbury and three four-wheel carriages also, it is believed, from Ashbury; 1878 - three six-wheel carriages to Cleminson's Patent design from the Gloucester Carriage and Wagon Co.; 1891 - the "Workmans" and the "Tourist" (later known as the "Gladstone") bogie carriages from Metropolitan; 1893 - two "Corridor" bogie carriages from Ashbury; 1894 - four "Summer" bogie carriages (two semi-glazed and two un-glazed) from Ashbury; 1897 - a possible bogie carriage to replace the three 4-wheelers (from Ashbury ? - see Note 9); 1907 - two Brake 1st/3rd composites from R.Y. Pickering; eighteen (or possibly nineteen) carriages in all.

The numbering of carriages in NWNGR ownership is not completely clear and it has been postulated that there were, at least, two numbering schemes, an original one and another implemented in the 1890s. It would appear that interim numbers were applied to some vehicles as the system was changed over from the former to the latter. The situation is furthered clouded by the FR Co./WHR renumbering.

Carriage Table[edit]

NWNGR/WHR Carriages (Pre-Preservation) [1][2]
Number
When New
NWNGR
(Pre-1890)
NWNGR
(1906)
Details Date WHR No. Notes
1 1 1 Ashbury Brake 1st/3rd Composite 1877 - 1
2 2 2 Ashbury Brake 1st/3rd Composite 1877 - 1
3 3 - Ashbury 4-wheel carriage 1877 - 2, 9
4 4 - Ashbury 4-wheel carriage 1877 - 9
5 5 - Ashbury 4-wheel carriage 1877 - 2, 9
6 6 4(?) Gloucester 6-wheel Cleminson Brake 2nd/3rd Composite 1878 - 2, 7
7 7 5(?) Gloucester 6-wheel Cleminson Brake 2nd/3rd Composite 1878 - 7
8 8 3(?) Gloucester 6-wheel Cleminson all 3rd Saloon 1878 -
7 - 7 Metropolitan 3rd saloon (Closed Coach) 1891 - 3, 8, 11
8 - 8 Metropolitan 3rd observation 'Tourist Coach' - the Gladstone Car 1891 29 4, 8
9 - 9 Ashbury 3rd saloon (Corridor Coach) 1893 25 5
10 - 10 Ashbury composite saloon (Corridor Coach) - Buffet Car 1893 23 (later 24) 5
11 - 11 Ashbury 3rd 7-compartment open (Summer Coach) 1894 26 6
12 - 12 Ashbury 3rd 7-compartment open (Summer Coach) 1894 24 (FR No 23) 6
13 - 13 Ashbury 3rd 7-compartment open (Summer Coach) 1894 28 6
14 - 14 Ashbury 3rd 7-compartment open (Summer Coach) 1894 27 6
3? - - Ashbury (?) Bogie carriage to replace 4-wheelers 1897 - 9, 11
4 - - Pickering Brake 1st/3rd Composite 1907 8 10
5 - - Pickering Brake 1st/3rd Composite 1907 9 10

Notes[edit]

Note 1[edit]

It has been suggested that the Ashbury Brake Compos were replaced by the Pickerings in 1907, but there is evidence to suggest that they remained in service for some little time after this (see Note 10). The underframe of one of them remained in service as a bogie timber wagon and can be seen in the J.F Bolton photographs of the 1941/42 demolition trains.
Additional confirmation of this fact was the listing for 1934 lease of the WHR by the FR which included 'Timber Wagon 25 ft long - old carriage converted into timber wagon to carry say 2-3 tons'[3]

Note 2[edit]

These carriages were specifically identified by type and number in the Snowdon Ranger Accident Report of 31st March 1883. The Cleminson's were identified as "6", "7" and "8" in the Moel Tryfan Rolling Stock Co. Ltd Agreement of December 1878. The allocation of "7" to the second brake composite and "8" to the all-third in this table is speculative.

Note 3[edit]

The 26ft "Closed Coach" was described by its manufacturer as a "Workmans Carriage". All windows were glazed and there was no internal connection between the two halves of the car. The seating was arranged peripherally around each of the two compartments.  The carriage appears in a photograph apparently taken at Dinas early in 1923 (although there is some doubt about the date of this picture) [4] but was not retained for use on the WHR. It is possible that some of its timber was used in the 1927 Buffet Car conversion. 

===Note 4===: The 26ft "Tourist Coach" had a glazed central section and commodious open end sections (referred to sometimes as "balconies"). The original Metropolitan plans and accounting returns at the end of 1891 suggest that initially it was considered a Composite (2nd inside and 3rd outside?). But it seems to have been rapidly converted to a 1st class. It is possible this was either in anticipation of Prime Minister Gladstone travelling in it during a visit to Edward Watkins' chalet in September 1892 or in order to exploit that fact afterwards. In WHR days it was the only carriage whose roof was not lowered and it seems to have been known as the OBSERVATION COACH rather than carrying any number. It was dual-braked between May 1923 and spring 1924.

===Note 5===: The 29ft "Corridor Coaches" were so known because there was internal communication throughout; they did not have external corridor connections. All windows were glazed. They were perhaps the first British ordinary carriages for any gauge to incorporate this general "modern" layout. No.10 was altered in the late 1890s to incorporate a central partition, with door, and a 1st class saloon in one half. It, as WHR no.24, was further altered in 1927 to incorporate a buffet in the erstwhile 3rd class section, and, at some time before 1934, it was altered again back to a 3rd class saloon.

Note 6: The "Summer Coaches" were more spartan compartment vehicles, 29ft 11ins in length. 13 and 14 had no glazing and half height doors while 11 and 12 had half height doors with the upper section between each door glazed. No.12, which had become WHR 24, was passed to the FR at the end of 1926, becoming their no.23.

Note 7: Second Class was abandoned at the beginning of 1892 and these carriages ceased to be Composites, becoming Brake All 3rd.

Note 8: The numbers allocated to the "Workmans" ("7") and the "Tourist" ("8") had previously been allocated to two of the Cleminson 6-wheelers. Photographic evidence [5] shows these vehicles operating together and as it seems unlikely that the Company would deliberately have allowed a numbering ambiguity, it seems probable that some carriage renumbering must have taken place, but evidence is lacking as to what numbers were used. Further photographic evidence [6][7] appears to confirm that circa.1892 one of the Cleminson Brake Composites carried the number "10" apparently confirming that such a renumbering did indeed take place. However, as the number "10" was subsequently allocated to one of the Ashbury "Corridor" vehicles (1893) it seems probable that this first renumbering was a temporary measure leading to the eventual establishment of a more logical number structure for the NWNGR carriage fleet.

===Note 9===: In a letter to the Board of Trade dated 2nd September 1896 referring to the 4-wheel carriages James Russell wrote "I beg to state that it is proposed to replace the three small coaches referred to at as early a date as the finances of the Company will permit, and to discontinue running the small coaches in any event by the 31st March next year." The Board of Trade said that wasn't good enough and on 20th September 1897, Samuel Tanner, referring to this letter, wrote; "I beg to say that these were taken out of traffic some time ago and a new large Coach fitted with the Westinghouse Brake had been put into use in place thereof." This suggests the new Coach referred to is unlikely to have been no.7, new in 1891, but could have been the result of the £162 charged as Capital Expenditure under the "On Rolling Stock and Continuous Brakes" head in the second half of 1897 (expenditure on continuous brakes having been completed in 1894). This was what the previous 4 bought in 1894 had cost (a total of £649). If, as seems likely the Cleminsons 6-8 were renumbered prior to 1891 as is suggested by the appearance of a new 7 and 8 in that year (certainly the Gladstone Car was numbered 8 by Mackay's book of 1896), it is logical to suppose that No 6 was reallocated at the same time. It is then logical that the 1897 coach referred to by Tanner was given No 3, being the number allocated to the first of the 4-wheelers just withdrawn. This also fits with the 2 new coaches delivered in 1907 being given numbers 4 and 5 (as confirmed by the Pickering Order Book). Although no contemporary photographs of such a vehicle have ever materialised, it has been suggested that this might explain the "Mystery Carriage" photographed at Boston Lodge in the 1930s. The Boston Lodge carriage was clearly only suitable for quarrymen's traffic, quite logical if it was replacing the 4-wheelers. An alternative scenario is suggested by an affidavit by Russell to the Chancery Court in his role as Receiver and Manager in February 1893. He wanted to spend capital funded by an issue 'A' Debenture Stock, including "£550 in the purchase of two large carriages capable of carrying from 30 to 34 passengers each and to order one long frame on which to place 3 small carriages which are at present very ill-suited for the line and not very safe". The purchase of the two large carriages clearly went ahead (becoming Nos 9 and 10), but did the proposal for the 4-wheelers which if 10 ft long would have produced a 30 ft bogie carriage ? Two letters to the B.o.T. (including the one noted above) confirm that these 4-wheelers were still running in 1896, piped rather than fitted. Maybe Tanner's letter was in coded language to prevent the B.o.T. asking further questions. Maybe the £162 spent in 1897 was on this conversion rather than the Boston Lodge carriage. It would still be logical if the conversion was the dilapidated coach No 3 noted in 1923. Unfortunately the trail goes cold beyond this evidence and whether the conversion went ahead can only speculated upon. [8]

Note 10: It has been suggested that the Pickering Brake Composites were acquired to replace the Cleminson Brakes and not the Ashbury Brakes Nos 1 and 2 as has been previously supposed. However the Directors in their report of September 1907 on the delivery of the Pickerings said these two new "Composite and Brake Van Carriages were obtained to replace two of similar construction which had been running since the opening of the line in 1877." Which suggests the Ashburys 1 and 2 rather than the Cleminsons delivered in 1878. The entry in the Pickering Order Book confirms that these two carriages were given numbers 4 and 5.

Note 11: Closed coaches 3 & 7 were described as "dilapidated" in 1923. It is claimed by Boyd that they were allocated numbers 32 & 34, but it seems more probable that these carriages never received WHR numbers. Photographic evidence (see Note 3), if the date of 1923 proves to be correct, suggests that these were the Gloucester Cleminson all 3rd (apparently described as a "bogie carriage" simply because of its length and flexible wheelbase) and the Metropolitan Workmans Carriage, but it is perhaps possible that No 3 might have been the Boston Lodge carriage, particularly if assumptions that have been made about the later NWNGR numbering scheme prove to be wrong.

Note 12: There are photographs of one particular carriage that has, to date, eluded identification. Details of this can be found here

The FR purchased six open toastrack Hudson carriages in 1923, numbered 37 to 42. The cost was supposed to be shared but the WHR did not pay its share. They were used on both systems.

Two replica WHR carriages have now been built and are in service. They are of a Summer Coach and of so-called Corridor Coach number 25.

  1. ^ Michael Bishop "North Wales Narrow Gauge Carriages", Welsh Highland Heritage, Issue 040
  2. ^ Michael Seymour & Derek Lystor "Welsh Highland Railway Coaches", Welsh Highland Heritage, Issue 010
  3. ^ Boyd, James I.C. (1989). Narrow Gauge Railways in South Caernarvonshire, Vol. 2, The Welsh Highland Railway. Blandford: The Oakwood Press. p. 091. ISBN 0-85361-383-4.
  4. ^ Boyd, James I.C. (1989). Narrow Gauge Railways in South Caernarvonshire, Vol. 2, The Welsh Highland Railway. Blandford: The Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-383-4. page=70/1, photo 4
  5. ^ Johnson, Peter (2002). An Illustrated History of the Welsh Highland Railway (2nd ed.). Hersham: Oxford Publishing Co. p. 020. ISBN 0-860935-65-5. OCLC 59498388.
  6. ^ Ibid, page 21
  7. ^ "The Cleminson Enigma", Welsh Highland Heritage, Issue 041, page(s): 008
  8. ^ Michael Bishop "Chancery Records Reveal an Extraordinary Proposal", Welsh Highland Heritage, Issue 047

See also[edit]