GWR 9103 Nondescript Saloon

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GWRGreat Western Railway 9103 Nondescript Saloon
GWR 9103 20150411.jpg
GWRGreat Western Railway 9103 Nondescript Saloon
Built By GWRGreat Western Railway Swindon
Status In service
Number 9103
Other numbers W9103W, 079124
Built 1929
Designed By CollettCharles Benjamin Collett, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1922-1941
Diagram G58
Lot 1400
Type Nondescript, BTO
Length 58ft 4¼in
Weight 38t 0cwt
Seats 40 unclassified (as built)
1961 Withdrawn
1972 Preserved on SVRSevern Valley Railway
2013 Returned to service


GWRGreat Western Railway Nondescript Saloon 9103 of 1929 is the final CollettCharles Benjamin Collett, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1922-1941 version of the ChurchwardGeorge Jackson Churchward, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1902-1922 prototype 'toplight' nondescript saloon GWR 9055 of 1912. The SVRSevern Valley Railway is also home to a third nondescript saloon, GWR 9369 of 1923. The saloons were built for private hire and excursion work, the term 'nondescript' signifying they was not allocated to any one specific class such as first or third.

From the near end as seen, the layout of 9103 comprises a toilet, two saloons with exterior doors at each end and an interconnecting door, a single compartment with an exterior door, a brake/luggage compartment with double doors and another toilet. On the far side as seen, the side corridor has a matching external door layout. The two saloons each seat 16 passengers and the compartment seats 8 for a nominal total capacity of 40. The brake compartment allowed the carriage to be attached and detached at any station and to be parked,[1] although in service it was probably mainly used for storage of hampers rather than as accommodation for a guard.

As built, the two saloons bore similarity internally to contemporary London Underground surface stock, being finished in Edwardian style mahogany woodwork with inward-facing bench type seats along each side. Between the bench seats was a central folding table which made access to the seats somewhat awkward. The upholstery was a dark brown moquette, the standard for first class in the period. Externally the CollettCharles Benjamin Collett, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1922-1941 version displays the characteristics of the GWRGreat Western Railway 'bow-ended' era, without the 'toplight' windows of the prototype[1][2]. Other changes made by CollettCharles Benjamin Collett, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1922-1941 from the prototype 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) and the addition of the brake in the luggage compartment.


9103 was one of ten built at Swindon as Lot 1400 to Diagram G58, entering service in March 1929. Their original duties are not known, although they may have been used as inspection carriages.[3] Renumbering under BRBritish Rail or British Railways followed the normal process, and by the early 1950s the arrival of BRBritish Rail or British Railways standard open thirds saw W9103W and the other brake saloons allocated two each to the five excursion sets. They were eventually displaced in turn by BRBritish Rail or British Railways standard open brake thirds, but despite their unusual internal layout survived in general relief and excursion work until the early 1960s. They were the last open saloons in general service to carry the work 'Saloon' in bold sans-serif lettering.[2] 9103 was allocated to Plymouth for most of its time and was also involved in a fire at Fratton in 1950.[1]

After withdrawal from BRBritish Rail or British Railways passenger service in September 1961, W9103W was overhauled to take part in the "Westward Television Train", an exhibition train which visited 22 towns behind City of Truro to publicise the opening of Westward Television in 1961.[4] It was then transferred into Internal UserRolling stock used for the railway’s internal purposes (stores etc.) at one fixed location. stock and renumbered 079124 for use as an office[3][1].


9103 was first located 'off the rails' at Swansea Landore, but while preservation plans were drawn up, the vehicle was re-railed and sent to nearby Danygraig. It was eventually privately purchased from there by Phil James, becoming the first vehicle to arrive at Bewdley on 29 January 1972. After arrival, the roof was made waterproof and work began to replace the interior as closely as possible to the original layout.[5][6] By the end of 1973 the ceilings had been completely replaced as had a missing partition and the missing brake gear. The wiring was also reinstalled, with Phil James carrying out much of the work.[7][1]

9103 was then bought by Mick Haynes who continued the restoration with the aid of only a small team including family members.[1] In the early 1980s 9103 spent several years inside Bewdley Goods Shed to the evident frustration of the Wagon Department; with reports in SVRSevern Valley Railway News including 'tongue in cheek' comments such as "Next door in the main goods shed, however, the grass continues to grow around Mick Haynes' nondescript saloon 9103; shame we can't evict it and get another couple of wagons in!"[8] By the late 1980s 9103 was back out in the open, with the inevitable consequence that "Despite the fact that it is partly sheeted over, it no sooner dries out than it gets soaked again. The Haynes' descend on it "en famille" every weekend only to find that rain stopped play."[9] Progress nevertheless continued slowly through the 1990s, with occasional short reports that "Restoration is proceeding steadily".[10]

In 2004 the GW(SVRSevern Valley Railway)A created a web page which fully documented the restoration after that time. The page may be seen here. By 2007 it appeared possible that 9103 might be ready for traffic in 2008,[11] but in the event the restoration was not completed until 2013. 9103 was rolled out for 'official' pictures to be taken at Bewdley on Thursday 15 July,[12] with the Association arranging a special train to mark the completion on Wednesday 18 September 2013.

The high quality restoration of the coach resulted in the it winning the title of Overall Winner in the Carriage and Wagon category of the Heritage Railway Association Awards in November 2015.[13]

9103 is owned by the Great Western (SVR) Association[14] and is in service, normally appearing in the GWR2 set. It is finished in a period correct GWRGreat Western Railway 1928-34 chocolate and cream livery featuring the 'coat of arms' logo.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 GW(SVR)A, A Short History of 9103, Mick Haynes
  2. 2.0 2.1 Harris (1966) pp. 92,150.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Longworth (2018) Vol 1, pp.103, 172
  4. (Retrieved 8 July 2015)
  5. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 24
  6. SVRSevern Valley Railway Stock Book Ninth Edition
  7. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 27, 28, 30
  8. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 74
  9. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 87
  10. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 115 (Summer 1995), SVRSevern Valley Railway News 128 (Summer1998) etc.
  11. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 157
  12. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 183
  13. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 192, "Great Western (SVRSevern Valley Railway) Association Progress", Gareth J. Price
  14. GW(SVR)A stock list