GWR 9055 Nondescript Saloon

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GWRGreat Western Railway 9055 Nondescript Saloon
GWR 9055 20210423.jpg
GWRGreat Western Railway 9055 Nondescript Saloon
Built By GWRGreat Western Railway Swindon
Status In service
Number 9055
Other numbers W9055W, DW150127
Built 1912
Designed By ChurchwardGeorge Jackson Churchward, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1902-1922
Diagram G43
Lot 1209
Type Nondescript, BTO
Length 57ft 0in
Weight 26t 6cwt
Seats 44 unclassified (as built)
1972 Preserved on SVRSevern Valley Railway
1981-198 Converted to wheelchair-accessible coach


GWRGreat Western Railway Nondescript Saloon 9055 was designed by GJ ChurchwardGeorge Jackson Churchward, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1902-1922 and built by the GWRGreat Western Railway at Swindon in 1912 as a 'one-off' replacement for a DeanWilliam Dean, Chief Locomotive Engineer of the Great Western Railway 1977-1902 gas-lit clerestory coach which was destroyed by fire.[1] It was an unclassified or 'nondescript' saloon (ie not allocated to any specific class such as first or third), and was normally used for private hire. It has 'toplights', small 'lights' or windows above the main windows, which were a feature of many GWRGreat Western Railway carriages of the period.

From the near end as seen (picture top right), the original layout of 9055 comprised a toilet, a saloon with exterior doors at both ends, a single compartment with an exterior door, a second saloon matching the first, a luggage compartment with double doors and another toilet. This arrangement resulted in three closely spaced external doors at the centre of the coach. On the far side as seen there is only one central external door into the corridor, serving both the compartment and one end of each of the saloons. The two saloons each seated 18 passengers on bench seats at the ends and along the sides, with the compartment seating a further 8 giving a nominal total capacity of 44. The compartment, which was normally used by servants of the hiring party, was built to first class dimensions and had first class lamps but otherwise had third class fittings. Each saloon had a fold-down table down the centre. The luggage compartment was used to carry refreshments.[2][3][4]

Although 9055 was a 'one-off' prototype, it formed the basis of a later CollettCharles Benjamin Collett, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1922-1941 design of which 9103 and 9369 are also at the SVRSevern Valley Railway. Changes made by CollettCharles Benjamin Collett, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1922-1941 included placing the two saloons next to each other with an interconnecting door (which had the incidental effect of reducing the capacity from 44 seats to 40), including a brake in the luggage compartment, and adopting the 'Bow end' body style without ChurchwardGeorge Jackson Churchward, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1902-1922's toplight windows.

Service and preservation

9055 served with the GWRGreat Western Railway and briefly with BRBritish Rail or British Railways(W). It was withdrawn from passenger use in the early 1950s and transferred into DepartmentalRolling stock used for the railway’s own functions (engineering etc.) rather than for general passenger or goods traffic. Stock where it was numbered DW150127.[note 1] It was used as a mobile MPDMotive Power Depot office at Shrewsbury[2] and later at Newport, from where it was purchased by The Great Western (SVR) Association, arriving on 6 September 1972.[5] As acquired, the interior consisted of one saloon and the luggage compartment (both stripped) with the rest being a large open space.

9055 spent some years serving as the Railway Shop on Bewdley's platform 3, helping to raise funds for the Association. The saloon was also partially restored during that time.[6][7]

By 1981 a number of other railways had begun to offer facilities for parties with wheelchairs to travel in a suitably modified coach, leading to the GW(SVRSevern Valley Railway)A setting up a project to do the same. Full Brake 98 was initially considered for this purpose, before 9055 was eventually selected, being considered better suited due to the double doors at one end and the large number of windows. The intention at the time was for another carriage to take over this duty after 10 years or so with 9055 then being fully restored to original condition.[6]

The restoration and conversion was carried out at Bewdley entirely without the use of external contractors. The conversion entailed restoring one saloon, with the central compartment, second salon and luggage compartment becoming an open wheelchair area with optional loose seating. Final painting in late 1985 used the GWRGreat Western Railway's "Lake 1912" livery, an elegant crimson lake livery which was introduced in 1912 and carried until July 1922. 9055 was used for the first time, unadvertised, in June 1986; the "proper red" colour confused a number of visitors to the Railway and also the operating department who coupled it up to the LMSLondon Midland & Scottish Railway set![8] Financial constraints meant the saloon was furnished using ex-BRBritish Rail or British Railways upholstery; nevertheless the coach received a "Commended" award in the 1986 ARPSAssociation of Railway Preservation Societies Coach Competition.

9055 duly operated for ten years before being withdrawn from service in 1996 as planned. Its subsequent overhaul included a number of internal modifications. These included replacing the missing wall to re-create the centre compartment and installing additional seating in the second saloon. This was felt to make better overall use of the vehicle by providing additional capacity for day to day use in Set GW2 at the cost of reducing somewhat the space available for wheelchairs. It also included a repaint into panelled chocolate and cream livery to match 3930.[9]

In mid-2001 the C&WCarriage & Wagon department began a programme to refresh the whole GWRGreat Western Railway set whose appearance had been generating some negative comment. Although it was not long since the overhaul was completed, 9055's finish was starting to show signs of cracking, especially around the mouldings, and it was retouched, selectively repainted and varnished between December 2002 and January 2003.[10]

On 19 November 2004 the Friends of 4930 Hagley Hall group organised a photo charter of a "typical 1930s Great Western train" with large PrairieLocomotive with a 2-6-2 wheel configuration 5164 and a short 'ChurchwardGeorge Jackson Churchward, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1902-1922 rake' comprising 9055, 9369 and 3960.[11]

On 20 October 2012 the GWRGreat Western Railway(SVRSevern Valley Railway)A ran a special charter train, "The 9055 Centenarian", to mark the 100th anniversary of the construction of 9055. The train consisted of newly restored Hawksworth pannier tank 1501 and five of the Association's GW carriages including 9055 and fellow toplight 3930.[2]

In October 2018 9055 entered the Carriage Repair Works for a wheelset change, the tyres having worn down to scrapping size, and for any other overhaul work as necessary. Other 'below floor' work on a bogie and brake overhaul was completed relatively quickly, but 9055 then spent many months under a tent while the roof dried out completely so repairs to it could be carried out.[12]. It had been intended to carry out the work in the Carriage Shed in January 2020, but condensation and low temperatures brought about a change of plan with 9055 entering the paint shop where the roof was completely re-canvassed. Other work included door repairs, new battery boxes, a new toilet floor, some new lino and a repaint.[1][13]. The seating has also been reupholstered as seen in the internal views below taken in June 2021.

9055 is finished in GWRGreat Western Railway 1922-27 livery featuring the 'garter crest' logo. It is normally used in the Toplights set, although since services resumed in August 2020 following the 2020 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic it has formed part of the GW 'Explorer' set.

See also

List of carriages


  1. The GW(SVRSevern Valley Railway)A date withdrawal to 1950. Longworth gives the date of renumbering into DepartmentalRolling stock used for the railway’s own functions (engineering etc.) rather than for general passenger or goods traffic. stock as November 1955


  1. 1.0 1.1 SVRSevern Valley Railway News 210
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 SVRSevern Valley Railway News 180
  3. Harris (1966) p. 74.
  4. Longworth (2018) p.175. (Longworth gives the capacity as 34 seats, this appears to be an error)
  5. SVRSevern Valley Railway Stock Book Ninth Edition
  6. 6.0 6.1 SVRSevern Valley Railway News 63
  7. GW(SVRSevern Valley Railway)A website
  8. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 81
  9. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 115, 128
  10. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 142
  11. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 156, 157
  12. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 204, 206
  13. SVR Forum (Retrieved 15 April 2020)