The ‘Woolwich' Coach Brake Third (K&ESR No. 67)
LMS four wheeler Brake third No. 7965 was built in 1911 at the L&NWR's Wolverton Works for use on the North London line and was one of the last four wheelers built by an English railway. The coach, originally L&NWR No.109, ran in a fixed set in mainline service and first appeared on the Richmond - Broad Street service. It moved to the Potters Bar - Alexandra Palace line in late 1916 and the Broad Street Poplar service in 1936. About 1940 the LMS sold the coach to Woolwich Arsenal who used it on workmens' trains - although Winston Churchill is reputed to have also travelled in it. During this ownership it lost its internal partitions, gained a central table and longitudinal slatted seating.
On withdrawal from service in 1964 it was purchased by the K&ESR Locomotive Trust and became the Railway's first passenger vehicle of the preservation era. The ‘Woolwich' coach saw some service on departmental duties but did not run after 1976.
Unfortunately the vehicle deteriorated in storage but, thanks to a donation from a generous benefactor, restoration began in 1999 with the separation of the body from the underframe. Work on the latter was progressed as resources permitted, but in October 2003 a grant of Lottery funding was obtained from the Millennium Commission. Work to both body and underframe then proceeded rapidly, with the three passenger compartments being restored to use. The Woolwich coach was complete in splendid LMS maroon livery by 13th July 2004 as No 7965. Repainted in 2009/10, it has returned to service in a later LMS livery numbered as 27687
No. 67 is 32 ft. 6 ins. long, weighs 9 tons and can potentially seat 30.
This most unusual vehicle was built in 1890 at Wolverton. The LNWR's standard 30 ft. six-wheeled, steel and timber underframe was utilised to produce a vehicle weighing over 13 tons 10 cwt. Between the balconies were two saloons divided by a toilet compartment. The vehicle is believed originally to have been used by the Northampton District Engineer.
After the railway grouping of 1923 the inspection saloon saw service as LMS No. ED33 and later as No. 45021. In May 1940 it was sold to the Army for use on the Melbourne Military Railway in Derbyshire. In 1945 the coach was transferred to the Longmoor Military Railway in Hampshire where it later became Army No. 3005. At Longmoor the coach reverted to its earlier role as an officers inspection saloon as well as seeing use on public open days as one of the 'Blue Saloons' set; otherwise known by the troops as the 'Gin Palaces'. When the LMR closed in 1969 No. 3005, together with its ex-SE&CR and ex-L&SWR companions, was presented to the Transport Trust. Following the failure of the Longmoor preservation scheme, the 'Blue Saloons' were transferred to the Seven Valley Railway in September 1971. In 1984 all three were acquired for the K&ESR, delivery being made in the summer of 1985.
The ex-L&NWR saloon, after restoration to L&NWR livery, entered service on the Vintage Train. It entered the Carriage & Wagon works for a light overhaul in the spring of 1994, but a rotten build rail was discovered in the Robertsbridge end balcony which delayed its return to traffic until August 1995, this time in LMS maroon livery. It is currently withdrawn for further overhaul and is securely stored in Rolvenden Carriage Storage shed.