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London & North Western Railway Society
LNWR Society Publications

LNWR Society Portfolio No. 15 - LNWR 30ft 1in Six Wheeled Carriages

Portfolio no 15 Front page


The title of this Portfolio may suggest a rather narrow subject, but 1,598 carriages were built at Wolverton to the 30ft 1in length, and amongst them was the D297 five-compartment third class, of which no less than 827 were built, making them the most numerous of any British railway carriage. In addition, many of the details depicted and described herein remained standard for thousands more carriages built at Wolverton until the Grouping in 1923 and examples of these survived well into Nationalisation after 1948.
The main part of the text in this Portfolio first appeared some seventeen years ago in Premier News, then the magazine of the LNWR Society. The text was expanded for the first edition of this publication, which appeared in 2001, and supplemented with photographs and drawings, most of which had never been published before. These drawings show details which in many cases also apply to the roughly contemporary 42ft 0in and 28ft 0in carriages of Park design. This second edition includes many more drawings and additional photographs.
It is hoped that this publication will appeal to a wide audience and apart from historians we have in mind both model makers and those involved with preservation. We have relied on preserved examples for some illustrations of details.
Some authors have omitted the ‘1in’ when describing these carriages, referring to them as simply ‘30ft’. This can be very misleading for two reasons. One is that standard compartment sizes were used and, when adding these together, plus the partitions and ends, they come to 30ft 1in, not 30ft. For modelers (for example) to adjust dimensions in order to arrive at 30ft is making matters more complicated, not easier! The same standard compartment sizes etc. were used in the contemporary eight-wheeled carriages and in that case worked out to exactly 42ft. The second reason for including the 1in in our descriptions is that there was an earlier standard length of 30ft 0in. These carriages which were built in the early to mid-1870s were totally different in design and details, but were still extant a decade or more after the 30ft 1in types were built. There was also a new 30ft 0in underframe used for post-1908 Covered Carriage Trucks and other NPCS as well as the 11-coach Birmingham-Sutton trains of 1911, but this was of a much more modern design made entirely of steel and with bulb-iron solebars. It is to avoid confusion with these vehicles of similar length but very different designs that we will continue to use the designation ‘30ft 1in’ in full.
Many of these carriages were re-numbered, either as a result of having been rebuilt, or company policy as for example the LNWR 1910 renumbering and the LMS 1923 and 1933 renumberings. Consequently, a complete list of the many thousands of numbers carried by all 30ft 1in carriages would be extremely tedious and serve little useful purpose. We have therefore given representative numbers which should be sufficient for even the most prolific modellers and, where possible, we have given the building date of the carriage bearing that number, so that modellers can determine for themselves which brakes, steps etc. it would have carried.
Those wanting even more carriage numbers should refer to the LNWR Carriage Diagram Books. In these each type is allocated a separate page and the type became known by that page number. For example D297 appears on page 297 of the 1915 book. The carriage diagram books list all numbers for each type at that date, but give no information on building, or rebuilding dates. Like some other official records, the diagram books contain quite a few significant errors and inaccuracies, and the relevant ones are noted in this publication.
Some designs described here do not have a diagram number quoted because they were extinct before 1915. We could have referred to the 1893 or 1903 Diagram Book page numbers to describe these few vehicles, but have not done so in order to avoid confusion. Photocopies of both the 1893 and 1915 Diagram Books are available from the LNWR Society’s Librarian and Archivist.
Three books have been written on LNWR carriages. The first is An Illustrated History of LNWR Coaches by David Jenkinson (Oxford Publishing Company 1978 SBN-902888-90-0). This is a good summary of the position at 1923 and is particularly useful for twelve-wheeled stock. The title is somewhat misleading and it would be better described as a survey of LNWR and WCJS stock as at the Grouping. It was reprinted under the title LNWR Carriages by Atlantic Publishers in 1995 (ISBN 1-899816-01-1). The second book is A Register of West Coast Joint Stock by R M Casserley and P A Millard (Historical Model Railway Society 1980, ISBN 0-902835-04-1). The narrow subject of the title perhaps puts prospective purchasers off this book, but because all WCJS carriages were built at Wolverton to LNWR designs, there is much in this book to interest students of the LNWR. Only a handful of WCJS vehicles were built to the 30ft 1in length, and as they are exhaustively covered in the WCJS book they will not be considered further here.
Finally, there is 'LNWR Non-Corridor Carriages' (ISBN 0-95469-513-5) by the present author and Ian Tattersall, published by the LNWR Society in 2006. This is a comprehensive survey including drawings and many photographs of all LNWR non-corridor carriages from 1886 onwards with the exception of the 30ft 1in stock which is covered in this publication. Taken together these publications cover the great bulk of LNWR passenger rolling stock, although both Motor (Pull/Push) Trains and Non-Passenger Coaching Stock would benefit from additional coverage. These may be the subject of future LNWRS publications.