BR 4690 Tourist Standard Open
|BRBritish Rail or British Railways 4690 Tourist Standard Open|
BRBritish Rail or British Railways Tourist Standard Open 4690
|Built By||BRBritish Rail or British Railways York|
|Livery||BRBritish Rail or British Railways Maroon|
|Seats||64 standard (as built)|
|1982||Preserved on SVRSevern Valley Railway|
|2007||Conversion to disabled access coach|
As built the 'Open Second' included 8 'bays', each with two tables seating 4 people, giving a total capacity of 64. One end of the coach had a larger cross-vestibule than the other in order to incorporate two toilets, with the external doors at that end being inset from the end of the coach to accommodate these. A third cross-vestibule was included midway down the coach to enable speedier loading and unloading of passengers.
Since preservation, 4690 has been modified for use as a wheelchair accessible coach.
Service and preservation
4690 was built at York in 1957 to Diagram 93 (AC204), Lot 30375, and entered service in BRBritish Rail or British Railways's North Eastern Region in August 1957. Carriages in that region initially carried the same 'E' prefix as other Eastern Region stock, adopting a distinct 'NE' prefix in the mid-1960s, before reverting to the 'E' prefix when the Eastern and North Eastern Regions were amalgamated in 1968. The coach became NE4690 between February 1965 and January 1968.
4690, fellow TSO 4509 and SK 25346 were all acquired from BRBritish Rail or British Railways at York in early 1982, with their purchase initially being funded by the SVRSevern Valley Railway. However at that time SVRSevern Valley Railway(H) preferred not to invest in coaches and they were offered for sale to individuals or groups on the Railway, with the other two quickly being sold. All three were in good working order and were able to enter service without even needing a repaint from their BRBritish Rail or British Railways 'blue and grey' livery.[note 2] 4690 arrived on the SVRSevern Valley Railway from York on 21 July 1982, needing only a sweep out before entering service.
4690 underwent a light overhaul at Bridgnorth in late 1983 which mostly involved re-bedding the windows. Shortly after that time the SVRSevern Valley Railway decided to form two BRBritish Rail or British Railways carriage sets, one with the early crimson and cream livery (Set C) comprising mainly corridor stock and the other with the later maroon livery (Set M) with mainly open stock and intended at the time mostly for use on school trains. As 4690 had a relatively early out-shopping date, it was selected as the Open for use in Set C, being repainted in crimson and cream livery at Bridgnorth in summer 1984. It again carried the number NE4690.
In 1988 4690 spent 3 months out of traffic while five of the six doors were reconstructed and overhauled. The opportunity was taken to carry out a range of internal improvements, after which the coach returned to its role as the only open in Set C in time for that year' Autumn Steam Gala.
4690 remained in SVR(H) ownership until 1992 when it was sold to SVRSevern Valley Railway member and TTI Charles Jackson, who funded the re-upholstering of the coach in original BRBritish Rail or British Railways blue and green check during 1995.
4690 continued in service apart from being stopped from traffic in 2001 on safety grounds while welding repairs were carried out, as the worst affected area at the lavatory end was where the passenger communication chord gear is located.
Conversion to a disabled access coach
Charles Jackson later emigrated and sold 4690 to the SVR(A) Wolverhampton Branch who began fund raising to convert it to a fully-equipped disabled access coach. The coach was partly dismantled at Bewdley around 2003, but work then faltered. To resolve the situation, the Branch donated a half-share in 4690 to the newly-formed SVR Rolling Stock Trust who organised the overhaul of the body and conversion work required.
To create space for wheelchairs, the conversion required that the four tables nearest the lavatory end were removed, leaving twelve pairs of tables for general passenger use plus four seats facing the wheelchair area. Two pairs of double doors would be installed in the position previously occupied by the final pair of tables, with the former single access door being blanked off. The two toilets would be replaced by a single larger wheelchair accessible toilet set to one side, with the through corridor access moved to the opposite side of the coach.
The body work was carried out at Rampart's Carriage Works, Derby in 2007, requiring around 3,500 man hours of work by the contractors. 4690 returned to the SVRSevern Valley Railway from Derby as a repaired but empty body shell shortly after that year's Autumn Steam Gala, which had been severely curtailed by the 2007 Storm Damage. As the SVRSevern Valley Railway was short of income following the storm damage, a series of SVRSevern Valley Railway-based restoration projects were then given the go-ahead to have work done in Kidderminster paint shop with their private owner groups paying for the service, delaying the fitting out and completion of 4690. Final fitting out took place between March and May 2008. The two pairs of double doors were completed using varnished Iroko hardwood in a style reminiscent of LMSLondon Midland & Scottish Railway third class coach doors, with a window let into the previously blank door. External painting into maroon livery was completed in June, after which 4690 entered traffic in Set M on 25 June 2008. The project which cost around £36,000 was jointly funded by the Wolverhampton SVRASevern Valley Railway Association Branch and the Rolling Stock Trust with SVRSevern Valley Railway(H) contributing by allowing use the Carriage Works to complete the finishing off.
The main picture (top right) shows an external view of the modified layout as seen from the 'wheelchair end' with the disabled toilet to the far side. The former toilet window (nearest) is now a plain window for the through access corridor. The original external door has been blanked off, with the new double doors installed where the fourth window would have been. Three windows remain between the new double doors and the central vestibule door, of which only the furthest two have tables. The carriage carries a data plate showing the revised seating capacity of 52 standard class seats (52S).
4690's entry into traffic in 2008 as the SVRSevern Valley Railway's fourth fully converted wheelchair-accessible coach was made without any ceremony or publicity at the time. However on Tuesday 17 February 2009 a brief ceremony was held at Kidderminster to mark the event, with guests including two of-Britain's successful Olympic medal-winning Paralympian athletes, swimmer Sascha Kindred OBE and wheelchair athlete Mickey Bushell.
The photograph below shows 4690 in use in Set M in March 2015. At that time the 'wheelchair end' faced the north of the line (to the left in the picture). The coach has been turned since, as that end now faces south as seen in the main picture above.
Around 2017, 4690 and the other wheelchair accessible carriages were equipped with 'on-board' wheelchair ramps. 4690's ramp was pictured in SVRSevern Valley Railway News at the time and can be seen in the photograph above.
On 13 August 2019 4690 was withdrawn to allow it to have a repaint and repairs, its place being temporarily taken by newly-restored BR 4399 Tourist Standard Open. 4690 returned to service in early November 2019. Following the 2020 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic 4690 has been fitted with clear screens between each set of tables to enable better social distancing; these can be seen in the interior view picture above. The coach remains jointly owned by the SVR Wolverhampton Branch and The SVR Charitable Trust.
- The TSO designation remained in use for Mark 3A and Mark 4 Open Standard carriages, although no 'ordinary' SO coaches were constructed after the Mark 2a in the mid 1960s.
- In 1982 the SVRSevern Valley Railway provided a rake of blue and grey carriages for filming L For Lester, probably including 4690.
- Longworth (2013) pp 9,59.
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 64, 65
- SVRSevern Valley Railway Stock Book Ninth Edition
- Information notice displayed in 4690
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 70, 72-73.
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 89, 90
- SVRSevern Valley Railway Stock Book Eighth Edition
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 104
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 118
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 137
- Working party pictures on Wolverhampton Branch website
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 160, 161
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 164, 165
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 198
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 208