• Andy Vincent

Bulleid Semi-Open Brake Third - S4365S


4365 at Swanage after its most recent restoration. Photo: Fraser White

This was the first coach to run on the Swanage Railway when volunteers started to rebuild the branch in the nineteen seventies - and was the first coach restoration undertaken by the Heritage Coach Team when this was formed.


One of the last coaches built for the Southern Railway before it became part of British Railways, it was completed just before railway nationalization in 1948. The coach was designed under Oliver Bulleid, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Southern Railway between 1937 and the 1948, to diagram (design) 2123 and ordered under lot number 3240. Bodywork and fitting-out was undertaken at the Southern Railway's Eastleigh Carriage Works using and underframes constructed at Lancing. The finished carriage was 64ft 6in long and 9ft wide.


4365 seats forty eight third (later second) class passengers split between two compartments with eight seats each and an open saloon with four bays also with eight seats each. A single toilet was fitted between the saloon and compartments. The guard has a small area separated from the large luggage area with seat and originally a roof mounted periscope to see the line ahead or behind.


Although completed just before nationalization, 4365 (along with sister vehicle 4366, also at Swanage) entered service in early 1948. Both 4365 and 4366 originally formed part of Bournemouth Dining Set 298, one of eleven (sets 290 - 300) five coach sets created to operate to Bournemouth and occasionally to Weymouth. The original rake for Set 298 consisted of Semi-Open Brake Third 4365; Corridor Composite 5748; Restaurant First 7685; Kitchen Restaurant Third 7889; and Semi-Open Brake Third 4366.


Set 298 continued to be run unaltered by the Southern Region of British Railways until 1962 when the Bulleid Restaurant coach was replaced with a more recent BR Mk1 equivalent. The substitution of 4365 for BR Mk1 Brake Corridor Composite (BCK) S21268, in June 1965 released 4365 to run as a 'loose' vehicle. Shortly afterwards, Southern Region decided to abandon fixed sets. 4365 was withdrawn in May 1966 on completion of the Bournemouth electrification project.


In November 1967, 4365 was purchased by the MoD along with 4366 and 4367 for use on the railway systems used at a number of MOD bases. It acquired the numbered RCT 1 on moving to Long Marston.


4365 leading for the Industrial Railway Society visit to Long Marston on 7th October 1972. Photo: Geoff Taylor

Later 4365 received the designation ARMY 5200, along with a generator being installed in the toilet compartment, whilst at MoD Bicester. It was purchased from there by some members of The Southern Steam Trust (the forerunner of the SRT) in October 1977 and arrived in Swanage on Friday 4th March 1978.

Undergoing restoration on arrival at Swanage. Photo: Andrew P.M. Wright

The full overhaul of 4365 was not quite complete when operating the Railway's first services on Saturday, 4th August. After completing re-painting, and other minor works, it was used for many years and then withdrawn in the late 1980s and stored pending a full restoration.


Full restoration finally commenced in 2004 with structural and mechanical work undertaken at Rampart Engineering in Derby in 2005. The completed 'shell' returned to Swanage in October 2006 with the volunteer Heritage Coach Team undertaking restoration of the interior. 4365 returned to traffic on Saturday 24th March 2012.


Contributors: Mike Stollery, Peter Sykes, Peter Short, Mike King, Vintage Carriages Trust

Photographs by Andrew P.M. Wright, Swanage Railway Official Photographer, unless otherwise noted.