GWR 5043 Wheelchair and Buffet Project.
Project to restore GWR Corridor Third 5043.
Composition of SVR Carriage Sets
As of 2017, there are seven sets of carriages running in SVR passenger trains made up of BR, LMS, LNER and GWR vehicles. Of these, five are “ordinary service”, plus one dining set and the historic GWR “Toplight” vehicles. The ordinary service GWR set is known as “GW2”. To provide an adequate service to all passengers, each set needs to contain a good standard of accommodation for those travelling first, third or in wheelchairs, together with a Buffet car and a van for buggies, bikes, and any other large luggage that may present itself. Except for GW2, this is either achievable, or will be once the rebuilding of 4399 and 80776 is complete, these being the current pair of Department for Transport grant-assisted wheelchair accessible carriage projects. Set GW2 however lacks both its own Buffet Car and any sort of wheelchair accommodation, and both these aspects need to be addressed. The reason for the long-standing problem was that nearly all the SVR based GWR carriages were priceless historical relics, and definitely not available for adaptation, but in 2017 a suitable carriage, 5043 was identified.
History of 5043
Built at Swindon in June 1928 to Diagram C54, 5043 was a 57ft Third Class coach with eight compartments seating 64 passengers. It had a side corridor, gangways and a toilet at each end. Built to the then current Bow Ended style it had the usual access arrangement of a side door leading either directly or across the corridor into each compartment; 16 doors in all. Outshopped in GWR chocolate and cream, it probably carried all the well-known livery variants used during its life. Nothing specific is known of 5043’s history with “The Big Railway”, but it was usual for new vehicles of this type to start off in the best trains, gradually cascading down to Cross Country and other more mundane services.
Most pre-war GWR carriages were withdrawn from main line service in the 1958-1962 period. Whilst the majority were scrapped, a number were rebuilt as “Departmental Coaches”, either as site workshops or staff accommodation. 5043 was stripped out internally, the door layout altered, and it became a workshop numbered DW150301.
After final withdrawal by British Rail, 5043 was purchased by the 2857 Society and arrived at Bewdley in 1981 where it continued to give service as a workshop to assist with the rebuilding of their locomotive. Meanwhile the carriage was progressively rebuilt with new or repaired timbers and new galvanised steel panels.
With the completion of 2857’s third SVR overhaul in 2014, 5043 was once more declared surplus by its owners. The LNER Carriage Group was seeking a workshop to enable it to complete the restoration of LNER BTK 24506 and raised the money needed to enable The Great Western (SVR) Association (GWA) to purchase it, with a proviso that the LNER Group would, for the time being be the main user. By this time the bodysides were known to be in poor condition with much rotten woodwork, but the steel panels had been welded together into continuous sheets, floor to gutter and extending 20’ or more. It was therefore judged perfectly strong enough for many more years of static use.
Almost as soon as they took ownership, the GWA announced its long-term aspiration to convert 5043 to a replica GWR bow ended Composite Dining Car to Diagram H33. Creating this magnificent vehicle would be a huge undertaking and the result almost certainly surplus to SVR traffic requirements. However, stored at Kidderminster was 4786, another GWR bow ended 3rd of 1926 vintage, but this one survived the 1960s in virtually complete condition as a dormitory coach, and later, after purchase by SVR(H), became familiar to passengers as the “Camp Coach” parked prominently for many years at Kidderminster Town Station. In suitable condition for restoration to a very attractive passenger carriage, the GWA expressed a wish to undertake this eminently practical project.
Some imaginative thinking has produced a solution that will allow both projects to succeed. After several attempts using computer assisted design work (CAD) it was found that the GWR Composite Diner bodyshell could, with a few relatively small modifications, equally well contain a wheelchair friendly saloon, a Disabled WC and a bar that could be reached by a person in a wheelchair. Being urgently required, it wasn’t hard to appreciate that 5043 would be better owned by SVR(H) and 4786 (qv) by the GWA who would restore it at their own pace. Thus, in early 2017 the carriages swapped ownership. Having previous experience of major rebuilds (GNR 2701, LNER 24506) and of wheelchair accessibility (24105) the LNER Carriage Group was asked to undertake the rebuild of 5043, whilst the GWA intends to adopt 4786 as its next project once similarly styled Composite 6045 is complete.
Referring to the 3d drawing, central double doors will admit passengers into a large vestibule, leading in one direction into a well-appointed saloon with seats and space for wheelchairs. The other way will lead, via a wide corridor to a buffet counter with lowered section for the convenience of wheelchair users. Finally, there will be a Disabled Toilet, accessed from the vestibule. The exterior will have the wooden framework covered with flush steel panels and with sliding shutters to the windows, mimicking the way in which most GW catering vehicles were rebuilt in the 1938-52 period to prolong their lives. It’s expected that the internal décor will be that used in the final, H55 series of Buffet cars built by the Great Western in 1938 with sycamore and beech varnished panelling to an art deco style.
Work commenced on 5043 in autumn 2017, with an expected completion date of 2023, but possibly sooner with good luck, goodwill and the availability of sufficient resources. Many fittings have been obtained, and a kit of bodyside frame components was ordered for delivery late in 2017. The GWA is fully supportive of the project, having not only assisted with ideas, historical research and the CAD work, but supplied several components that will be essential to the finished vehicle. At their suggestion, and once the project is sufficiently advanced, it is likely that 5043 will take the number of one of the original GWR’s Diagram H33 diners and become known as 9581. In that form, the coach will become another interesting example of the SVR’s historic and varied passenger vehicle collection.
5043 being shunted at Bewdley, March 2017.
In a livery of primer, moss and mould it wasn't an attractive sight.
Computer generated illustration of the proposed
GWR wheelchair accessible Buffet Car to be created from 5043.
For progress updates please see the
SVR Live 5043 page.
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