Van 12

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group
Van 12
Type Brake Third
Seating 24 x 3rd
Home Railway FR
Status In service, Heritage Fleet
Built by Brown, Marshalls and Co. Ltd.
Built 1880
1929/30 Rebuilt with passenger accommodation
1957 Converted to Buffet Car
1963 Lengthened
2014 Rebuilt
Length 32 ft 4 in

Van 12 is a third class saloon and brake van rebuilt from an original brake van of 1880. It was originally numbered Van 5..


This carriage was constructed as a bogie brake (luggage) van by Brown, Marshalls and, with no passenger accommodation, was originally numbered Van 5.

Rebuilt in Boston Lodge between 1929-30 with a body modified to incorporate a guards compartment and passenger accommodation in 1st and 3rd class. Note that some bodywork is still extant from the original van. The bottom end frame was relocated to remove the end balcony in the 1929/30 rebuild and the original is still present. The duckets and some roof sticks still survive from the original Brown Marshall van. Van 4 had been treated similarly.

Post Preservation[edit]

In the 1955 renumbering it became Carriage 12 in the new combined series, the original 4 wheeler having been scrapped around that time. There are early references (FRM NL/11) to this vehicle as Coach 12 and Van 12.

It was one of the two carriages first restored for use when the railway reopened and in 1957 it entered the works where it was refurbished and altered. The original longitudinal seating was removed, a sales counter installed, and a connecting corridor put in. This enabled a corridor connection with Van 4, the first in the railway's history. The sales counter had a sloping front which was made from the glass of a droplight from the same Mersey Railway carriages that provided the seat frames and seat squabs used when renovating the bowsiders and No.11 (Van 4).[1] The seats in the buffet car were hard seating without cushions and for this reason, unlike Carriage 14, there was no extra charge for sitting in it if you were a third class passenger.[2] In 1962 the FRS magazine notes it was given a fresh coat of green.

In 1963 it was rebuilt on a new steel 30ft underframe, making it one compartment longer than its sister. The success of the buffet led Allan Garraway to wish he had lengthened it to the full 36ft. The added compartment is at the end furthest from the guard's ducketts. The FRS magazine states "It has an extra seating bay.  The seating has been altered to give 14 seats in pairs on the seaward side and 7 single seats on the other, with tables to some units.  The floor has been lowered except over the bogies and the counter has been arranged transversely. It is fitted for draft tankard.". In 1966 it was re-roofed and fitted with linoleum flooring and in 1969 was repainted into all over cherry red.

During the period from 1977 when Buffet Cars carried names Carriage 12 was named Samuel Holland.

In 1982 larger windows were provided in the centre of the car with softwood to last 5 years. In 1983 the buffet area was revamped, providing 3 extra passenger seats.

In 1988 the FRS magazine reports it "Suffered an unfortunate fire during summer 1988 resulting in removal of gas supply and its replacement by Car 117". In 1989 it received a partial re-panel and full repaint (colour not noted but possibly red/cream). Then in 1991 it had a "standard corridor end" fitted at the request of the operators.

It visited the workshops in spring 1992 for replacement batteries and removal of former kitchen installations which had become redundant following the arrival of Carriage 114 and new legislation. Dry rot was discovered in the guard's ducket, behind the kitchen counter, which necessitated radical excavation of rotten timber. The opportunity was taken to repair and recover some areas of floor.[3]

Having run in standard red and cream livery for some years, it was restored in 1999 to the green and ivory livery carried in the 1950s and early 1960s (alongside fuller side beading), and in 2005 returned to its original identity as Van 5.

Van 5 was withdrawn in early 2011 following the introduction of 123 for a long overdue refit and restoration. Externally it was to be restored to the look of when it was first lengthened in 1963. The appearance was to be in the same style as Van 4. See here for pictures from the refit.

Recent Years[edit]

Van 5 emerged from the carriage works in late summer/early autumn 2014 in Green and Cream sporting the Edinburgh Tram class designations it carried in its earlier life. It carries the number 12, as is appropriate for its 1960s livery. It was officially renumbered Van 12 in 2024.

The rebuild included a remodelling of the interior to create a wheelchair space in the area where the buffet counter once was. Access for wheelchairs is from the guards compartment, which has had its doors widened (without altering the appearance). The windows have also been adjusted, back to their 1960s configuration.

As with Carriage 123 and Carriage 102 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.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ John Dobson, comment on post on "Friends of F&WHR" page on 19/2/20.
  2. ^ Alistair Stirling, comment on post on "Friends of F&WHR" page on 14/2/20.
  3. ^ Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 137, page(s): 183