BR 3103 First Open
|BRBritish Rail or British Railways 3103 First Open|
BRBritish Rail or British Railways First Open 3103
|Built By||BRBritish Rail or British Railways Wolverton|
|Livery||BRBritish Rail or British Railways Maroon|
|1984||Preserved on SVRSevern Valley Railway|
M3103 is a BRBritish Rail or British Railways Mk 1 First Open (FO). It was acquired in 1984 by a group of Bridgnorth Bar Department volunteers, also known as The SVR (BR) Buffet Car Fund. They had already acquired BR 1682 Restaurant Buffet and quickly developed plans to offer a dining service using the two carriages. This led to the introduction of the Severn Valley Venturer in 1989.
BRBritish Rail or British Railways introduced the Mark 1 First Open in 1951, seating 42 in 7 bays of 2+1 format with a toilet in each end vestibule. The first three to Diagram 71 had end doors only, while the next 17 from 1954 to Diagram 72 had a centre door in the middle seating bay. Thereafter Diagram 73 (AD103) became the standard, with a central vestibule.
3103 was built in 1961 at Wolverton as one of three in Lot 30648 to Diagram 73. Previous FOs had been fitted with BR1 bogies whose ride quality became poor after some use, and this Lot was the first to be built with Commonwealth type bogies, increasing the weight from 33 to 37 tons. The three were initially allocated to BRBritish Rail or British Railways's Scottish region before being transferred the Midland region in February 1964, with SC3103 being renumbered M3103.
Prior to preservation, 3103 had been used as an SAS training vehicle (evidenced by broken table legs and a seat scorched by a stun grenade). It was subsequently stored at Oxley, Wolverhampton.
In 1981 the SVRSevern Valley Railway Board authorised a further six vehicles to be acquired to cope with the expected increase in traffic arising from the forthcoming opening to Kidderminster. The same year a group of Bridgnorth Bar Department staff (also known as The SVR (BR) Buffet Car Fund) acquired BR 1682 Restaurant Buffet which, although equipped with a full kitchen, was initially used only as a bar car and subsequently for an occasional grill service.
During 1984 the Bar Department staff found 3103 for sale while looking for other bar cars. They duly acquired it as the last of the six originally authorised in 1981. At the time it was the SVRSevern Valley Railway's second Open First which would allow for the completion of two balanced Mark 1 sets. It arrived from Oxley on 23 July 1984.
Having completed the restoration of 1682, the bar staff began work on 3103 at Bridgnorth in early 1985. It received a quick internal restoration and external repaint into BRBritish Rail or British Railways 1957 Maroon livery which it would have carried when first built, including black ends and the coat of arms but without the yellow stripe above the windows added to first class carriages from 1963. it entered traffic on 6 July 1985, making its debut in the LMSLondon Midland & Scottish Railway set.  The following year 3103, 4550 and 4584 all required minor repairs after a shunting mishap at Bridgnorth when they "decided to lay a track of their own". All three returned to service still bearing some scars.
From the time of 3103's acquisition, the Bar Department staff had begun to make plans for offering a full restaurant service using their two coaches 1682 and 3103 as the traditional BRBritish Rail or British Railways RB/FO pairing. By 1988 the two were paired together and both received a quick repaint over the 1998-89 close season with 3103 remaining in 1957 Maroon livery. 1989 saw the launch of the Severn Valley Venturer Sunday dining service operated by the Bar Department staff as a complementary service to the official Severn Valley Limited dining train.
During 1990 3103 received repairs to several armrests. The roof was also repainted with the assistance of volunteers from the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.
3103 underwent an overhaul at Bewdley in spring 1997 with its place in the Venturer set being taken by on-hire classmate [BRBritish Rail or British Railways 3109 First Open|3109]]. It had been in continuous service for some years, but being mainly used only on Sunday services it was found to be in generally good condition. It required some minor patchwork to the exterior panels before repainting, with the interior being stripped and re-varnished.
In 2009 the restoration of LMSLondon Midland & Scottish Railway Restaurant First Open (RFO) 7511 was completed. 7511 moved into the Venturer set while 3103 stood in for GWRGreat Western Railway Restaurant Third 9653 in the Severn Valley Limited set. In 2010 3103 was red-carded with wheel flats.. Budget restraints prevented the tyres being reprofiled until October 2011 when the coach was sent to Barton Hill depot in Bristol for tyre turning. On its return it received another overhaul and repaint, then being put in the Carriage Shed to 'harden off' over the winter s it was not needed on the Santa service. It ran in the 2012 Spring Gala and then entered the BRBritish Rail or British Railways Maroon set to provide first class accommodation while provide first while Brake CompositeCarriage having more than one class of seating, ie First and Third or latterly First and Standard. 21254 underwent an overhaul. Over winter 2013-14 3103 was re-upholstered in reproduction 'Festival of Britain' Blue maple leaf moquette funded by the Buffet Car Fund. The following winter it received another repaint before returning to the Venturer set after six seasons of acting as standby in sets M and C. The refurbishment was completed over winter 2015-16 with all of the carpets, curtains and linoleum being replaced, again funded by the Buffet Car Fund.
3103 is painted into 1957 Maroon livery with black ends, and is usually seen paired with Buffet Restaurant carriage (RB) No 1682 for 'Severn Valley Venturer' catering use and special services. It is owned by the SVR (BR) Buffet Car Fund.
- Longworth (2013) p.42.
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 72
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 121, "The Severn Valley Venturer"
- SVRSevern Valley Railway Stock Book Ninth Edition
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 75, 76, 77, 78
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 81
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 89, 92, 94
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 97
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 122, 133
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 139
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 151
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 169, 170
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 176
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 179
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 186, 191, 194