GWR 9581 Wheelchair accessible Buffet Car

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GWRGreat Western Railway 9581 Wheelchair accessible Buffet Car
5043 20150411.jpg
GWRGreat Western Railway Full Third 5043 in Bewdley DownIn reference to the direction of travel means away from the major terminus (i.e. towards Bridgnorth on the present day SVR) Yard in 2015
Built By GWRGreat Western Railway Swindon
Status Static use
Number 9581
Other numbers 5043, W5043W, DW 150301
Built 1928
Designed By CollettCharles Benjamin Collett, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1922-1941
Diagram H33 (C54 as built)
Lot 1383
Type TK
Length 58ft 11½in (as built)
Weight 30t 6cwt (as built)
Seats 64 third (as built)
1981 Arrived on SVRSevern Valley Railway
2017 Conversion to buffet car began


9581 temporarily leaves its usual space on 28 March 2017 to allow 4150's boiler lift
9581 at Kidderminster for turning on 30 March 2021

GWRGreat Western Railway 9581 is a Wheelchair accessible Buffet Car, created by rebuilding the bodyshell of GWRGreat Western Railway CollettCharles Benjamin Collett, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1922-1941 Bow-Ended Coach No 5043, a standard 57ft full third coach originally built in June 1928 to diagram C54, lot 1383. The internal layout as built seated 64 passengers in eight compartments, with a side corridor and a toilet cubicle at each end.

As rebuilt the coach has been given a new SVRSevern Valley Railway running number ‘9581’ which reflects its rôle as a catering vehicle. In GWRGreat Western Railway days these were all numbered in the 95XX or 96XX series. The revised bodyshell is based on a GWRGreat Western Railway Diagram H33 CollettCharles Benjamin Collett, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1922-1941 CompositeCarriage having more than one class of seating, ie First and Third or latterly First and Standard. Diner which originally seated 12 first and 24 third. The number of one of these, the long-scrapped 9581, has been chosen for the rebuild of 5043.[1] The original 9581 was in service between August 1925 and May 1959[2].

5043 in service

5043 was used on cross country and express services. After main line service 5043 became DW 150301 in June 1963 when, as one of a batch of six similar conversions, it was allocated to the Running and Maintenance Department and served at least part of its new existence in the Swindon breakdown train. As part of the conversion several doors and windows were blanked off and an internally operated hand brake was added.

5043 in preservation

The 2857 Society ownership

The coach was originally bought by the 2857 Society and arrived on the SVRSevern Valley Railway by rail on 22 October 1981. It had been adapted for use as a mess coach in a breakdown train, including stripping out compartments and removing most of the internal partitions, fitting a stove and workbenches and blanking off of some of the doors and windows. On arrival, it served as the 2857 Society’s workshop, store and mess vehicle.

GW(SVR)AGreat Western (SVR) Association ownership

Ownership passed to the Great Western (SVR) Association in 2014 in a deal that saw the 2857 Society’s spares transferred to GWR 143 Tool & Packing Van, allowing the LNER Carriage Group, who are based in Bewdley Down Yard to use 5043 to use it as a workshop and stores.[3] Shortly after taking ownership the GW(SVR)AGreat Western (SVR) Association announced its long term aspiration to convert this vehicle to a replica of a GWRGreat Western Railway CompositeCarriage having more than one class of seating, ie First and Third or latterly First and Standard. Diner to Diagram H33. The SVRSevern Valley Railway, however, requires good quality wheelchair accessible accommodation (and a GWRGreat Western Railway design Buffet Car) for set GW and the H33 design is eminently adaptable for this purpose.

SVRSevern Valley Railway(H) ownership and conversion to GWRGreat Western Railway 9581

In March 2017 the GW(SVR)AGreat Western (SVR) Association and SVRSevern Valley Railway(H) exchanged 5043 for GWR 4786 Full Third. Conversion and restoration is being carried out by The LNER (SVR) Coach Fund who have experience of this kind of work, and this coach became their next project following restoration of GWR 17410 'Toad' 20T Goods Brake Van.[4]

Saloon accommodation for disabled passengers and their companions will be at one end and an accessible buffet counter at the other. Entry will be via central double doors with an adjacent disabled WC. The external appearance will indeed be of a GWRGreat Western Railway H33 composite Kitchen Diner (see above). It will replicate the later condition of GWRGreat Western Railway catering vehicles, which were all rebuilt in a programme that lasted from 1937 to 1952. There were many variations, but they all gained flush sided steel panelling with sliding shutters replacing the original 'hopper' type opening toplights, a much more practical arrangement that vastly reduced the window's tendency to leak.[5] The General Arrangement drawing of the proposal was prepared by the late and much missed Peter Simpson of the GW(SVR)AGreat Western (SVR) Association to whom the LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway Carriage Group are extremely grateful.

Under the title 'PROJECT 9581 - ACCESS FOR ALL' it was the beneficiary of the traditional SVRSevern Valley Railway Raffle in 2019, raising "more than £10,000"[6][7].

Conversion work

Preliminary work involved sourcing fittings, undertaking a condition survey, obtaining costings, cleaning and painting the underframe and ordering a kit of bodyside frame components.[8] Work commenced in earnest on 7 November 2017 with progress to March 2020 spectacular, with both sides, ends and roof rebuilt to the new configuration with new framework, replacement steel panels and fully glazed windows. Six of the eight new side doors were fitted, hung on their original hinges, genuine GWRGreat Western Railway slam locks fitted and all working correctly. All this was made possible by the financial support of both SVRSevern Valley Railway Companies and the Charitable Trust. Work of the LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway Carriage Group is supplemented from time-to-time by further volunteers from The 2857 Society and the Great Western (SVR) Association.[9][10] Updates to 2021 are on this webpage and in SVRSevern Valley Railway News 214.

In November 2018 it was agreed that with the rebuild more than 50% complete, the coach would subsequently be referred to by its new number 9581.[11]

Unfortunately COVID-19) lockdowns resulted in the retirement of some key volunteers and slowed progress. However, by November 2022 the structure of the interior was advanced with floor, ceilings, interior partitions and seat frames all in place and mostly painted/varnished,the lighting complete and working, the steam heaters are in place, and work is progressing on the internal sliding doors.

As of 2024 work continues on the much of the interior, with the vehicle on accommodation bogies whilst its own are overhauled at Kidderminster Carriage Repair Works.[12] A comprehensive mechanical overhaul will be needed, door lock certification, exterior painting in GWRGreat Western Railway 1930s livery, and the laying of lino throughout.

See also

List of carriages
Rolling stock currently under restoration


  1. LNER Carriage Group Newsletter 74, December 2018
  2. Longworth (2018) p.107
  3. 2857 Society newsletter issue 82
  4. SVRLive 30 March 2017
  5. SVR Unofficial Form 30 May 2016
  6. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 205
  7. SVR Facebook, 7 May 2019
  8. LNER Carriage Group (Retrieved 2 January 2018)
  9. SVRLive news page
  10. LNER Coach Fund Progress update December 2021 (Retrieved 22 October 2022)
  11. LNER Carriage Group
  12. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 225, Spring 2024

Railway Heritage Register Carriage Survey
SVRSevern Valley Railway Stock Book Eighth Edition