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  • Andy Vincent

Maunsell Third Open - S1381S

Built for the Southern Railway in 1930, this coach pioneered the design of 'open' coach (without compartments) that we think of as normal to-day.

This was one of the first coaches to enter service on the fledgling Swanage Railway in 1985. It was withdrawn for overhaul after about ten years. Following a long period in storage it was fully restored and re-entered service in 2019.

This is one of three similar coaches on the Swanage Railway which were built to a 1930 design under the direction of Richard Maunsell, the Southern Railway’s Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) from 1923 to 1938. They were 61ft 7ins long overall and, built to Southern Railway Restriction 4, they were 9ft 3ins wide overall. The doors at either end were recessed as was common on Maunsell coaches. This coach ran 'loose', i.e. not allocated to fixed sets, and seats 56 passengers in seven bays subdivided into 3 saloons, one of which was originally designated for non-smokers and separated by a sliding door.

The Southern Railway ordered 20 Third Open coaches on 17th May 1929 under 'Lot' (order number) E461 to 'Diagram' (drawing number) 2005. The underframes were built at the Southern Railway's Lancing works with the bodywork and interior added at Eastleigh between August and December 1930. The exterior is galvanized steel and the interior polished Mahogany with upper panels, some having a white celluloid inlay.

The coaches were numbered between 1369 and 1388 with most allocated to dining sets operating between London Waterloo and Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Weymouth and Exeter. In this role, they would have been fitted with tables which could be stored at the end of the coach when not in use.

In additional to their novel open layout, these coaches were also unusual in that the large bodyside windows could be lowered to provide ventilation rather than having a separate small opening window at the top. This 'droplight' design was not especially successful as rainwater had to be channeled inside the coach and drained through pipes in the floor leading to corrosion. The picture at the top of this age shows some of the windows open. The other two examples of this type of coach on the Swanage Railway (1323 and 1346) are essentially identical except that 1381 has only one ventilation bonnet to the toilets at each end. This being changed to two smaller ventilators for the later examples.

S1381S as ADS 70175 stored at Micheldever sidings in September 1979. Photo: Martin Allen

This coach was withdrawn from revenue-earning service in October 1961 and converted for use by Southern Region's Mechanical Engineers Dept. as a Staff & Tool Coach. This work involved the removal of the interior and was completed by July 1962 at which time it carried the departmental number ADS 70175 and based at Horsham. Eventually, SR's Power Supply Section was using it when it was finally withdrawn and stored at Micheldever sidings.

In late 1979, 1381 was purchased privately and moved to Swanage. The interior was reconstructed using similar seating recovered from withdrawn Southern EMUs. Gangways at either end were reinstated using components recovered from later BR Mk1 coaches. The completed coach entered service in 1985 and ran for many years before being stored again pending a major overhaul.

S1381S Stored awaiting overhaul in 2003. Photo: Mike Stollery

The major overhaul was finally started in 2014 with the structural overhaul at Rampart Engineering in Derby. The coach returned to Swanage in February 2017 where the interior was extensively refurbished by the volunteer Heritage Coach team before re-entering service in June 2019.

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.


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