LNER 24506 Brake Third

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LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway 24506 Brake Third
LNER 24506 20160829.jpg
LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway Brake Third 24506, formerly Pigeon Van 70759 plus much replacement material from 70442
Built By LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway York
Status In service
Number 24506
Other numbers 70759, E70759E
Frame 4069, 70442, E70442E
Built 1943 (frame 1940)
Designed By GresleySir Nigel Gresley, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the London & North Eastern Railway 1923-1941
Diagram 245
Lot 1073
Type BGP (as built), now BTK
Length 61ft 6in
Weight 28t 5cwt (as built)
Seats 24 third (none as built)
1972 Preserved
2005 Arrived on SVRSevern Valley Railway
2016 Restoration/conversion completed


BGP 70759's arrival at Bewdley from the South Devon Railway June 2005

The body of 24506 began life as an LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway GresleySir Nigel Gresley, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the London & North Eastern Railway 1923-1941 teak Pigeon Van. Since arriving at the SVRSevern Valley Railway, it has been mounted on a donor underframe and rebuilt as a Corridor Brake Third (BTK).


The LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway and other railway companies built Gangwayed Full Brake/Pigeon Vans (Type BGP) whose primary purpose was the transport of racing pigeons. LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway 70759 was one of 16 such carriages ordered in 1941 and eventually built in 1943 as Lot 1073 to Diagram 245.[1] The LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway carried out a complete renumbering of its carriages during 1943 but the delayed construction of the final batch of GresleySir Nigel Gresley, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the London & North Eastern Railway 1923-1941 carriages meant they were the only ones outshopped new without ever carrying a pre-war style number.

Being equipped with fold down shelves, the design gave a very versatile carriage able to carry a wide variety of traffic including parcels, passenger luggage (occasionally accompanied by its owners!) and racing pigeons. The carriages could also be used in wartime ambulance trains. There was a guard's area towards the centre which in about 1945 was enclosed as a compartment in response to complaints that the guards were feeling the cold. This left a 'long van' at one end occupying slightly over half the length of the carriage and a shorter van at the other end.

Post-War, 70759 continued in service in BRBritish Rail or British Railways's Eastern Region where it ultimately carried the number E70759E. It was withdrawn from service by BRBritish Rail or British Railways in October 1972[1].

24506 (formerly 70759) in preservation

Early history

After withdrawal by BRBritish Rail or British Railways, 70759 was one of three carriages purchased from BRBritish Rail or British Railways by the publishers David & Charles for use as a store at their Newton Abbot premises. BRBritish Rail or British Railways promptly lost all three and disclaimed responsibility for their delivery, stating that they could neither find the carriages nor refund the purchase money. With the aid of some railway enthusiasts they were eventually traced to York marshalling yard, where one of them had been pressed into service as a staff mess room. The marshalling yard master said there would be a strike if the publishing company tried to remove their vehicles, which took around a month to resolve. Eventually the three carriages did move to Newton Abbot where, carrying the 'David & Charles' name, they were prominently visible from passing trains at the west end of the station. BRBritish Rail or British Railways then complained that the transfer terms did not allow the company to advertise, to which the company replied that the offending destination boards were not advertising but merely stated where the coaches were going![2]

In April 1991 70759 moved to the South Devon Railway where it was again used as a store.[3] In summer 2004 the carriage came to the attention of the Trustees of The LNER (SVR) Coach Fund after a member of the South Devon Railway staff remarked to some visiting SVRSevern Valley Railway members that "It's for sale, you know". The carriage was still almost complete and appeared in better than average condition, leading to discussions on how it could be of use to the SVRSevern Valley Railway. Several options were considered for its use for a few years at Bewdley, along with the more radical suggestion of conversion to a passenger-carrying brake. The Trustees decided to acquire the carriage and then to consider the matter further. 70759 was therefore purchased in December 2004 and moved from Buckfastleigh to Kidderminster on 17-18 March 2005[4].

After a short period of storage in the Kidderminster Carriage Shed, 70759 was moved to the former cattle dock siding at Bewdley. Some initial conservation work was undertaken, including replacing a few rotten panels with exterior grade plywood and removing the guard's lookout which had mostly turned to rust. While still at Buckfastleigh the roof had been repaired and one side repainted in plain maroon. The other side, which was still in David & Charles' yellow and black livery, was therefore repainted maroon to match. Internally the 'long van' was re-painted and converted to house-the LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway/Bewdley Station Funds joint shop, while the shorter van was used as a storeroom for parts waiting to be fitted to GNR 2701. By the end of 2005 some initial design work for the conversion to a passenger brake had begun,[4] although with the Fund's other carriages requiring work and significant fund raising needed for the conversion work, it was considered a 'long term project'.

Donor vehicle 70442

Early in 2009 the owners of the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway indicated their desire to dispose of GresleySir Nigel Gresley, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the London & North Eastern Railway 1923-1941 Full Brake 4149 which had served for around 30 years as staff accommodation. There was little interest from elsewhere and the SVRSevern Valley Railway needed a spare set of bogies, so it was bought by SVR(H) (with the aid of a loan from the LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway (SVRSevern Valley Railway) Coach Fund) with the intention of bringing it to the SVRSevern Valley Railway to be dismantled for spares. Shortly afterwards Railway Vehicle Preservations (RVP) advised the SVRSevern Valley Railway that they owned an identical Brake to 70759, BGP 70442 (built in 1941 to Diagram 315 Lot 1017 and originally numbered LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway 4069), whose bodywork was in far worse condition but which they wished to restore. With the agreement of all three parties, 4149 was therefore moved from the Lake District to Swithland on the GCRGreat Central Railway. After inspection, the two carriages were swapped apart from the bogies, 4149's being in better condition. RVP went on to restore 4149, a carriage of some historical significance,[note 1] while the source of spares which eventually arrived on the SVRSevern Valley Railway comprised the poor bodywork but relatively good underframe of 70442 mounted on 4149's bogies[5].


By mid-2010 the Fund was in a position to begin the conversion of 70759 to return it to service as a second LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway brake van (BTK) for the teak set. This would be a major and costly undertaking and be dependent on securing grants and match-funding donations. In order to maximise the funding opportunities Fund decided to gift 70759 to the SVRSevern Valley Railway Rolling Stock Trust (now the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust Ltd). The project would then be physically undertaken by the LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway (SVRSevern Valley Railway) Coach Fund team on behalf of the Trust. A survey had been carried out which revealed a number of compromises made during the carriage's wartime construction. These included pressed steel corner brackets rather than the usual stronger wrought iron ones, nails used instead of the usual screws, and an assortment of different bolts to secure the pigeon basket racks. Many of the lower and end panels were of plywood rather than teak, which was in short supply at the time.[5]

The design chosen for the conversion essentially followed LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway Diagram 114, a four-compartment corridor Brake Third (BTK). The four compartments and corridor, together with a toilet, would occupy the 'large van' end while the 'small van' end would be retained as the Brake's luggage van. However there would be variations from that diagram, principally that the guard would normally be accommodated in the far corner of the luggage van (a similar layout to LNER 24068). As the full Brakes gave the guard the relative luxury of a compartment at the centre of the carriage, this feature was to be retained, both to give the SVRSevern Valley Railway guards some comfort and also to save altering the brake gear.[5].

GWR Snake C 1145, which had recently been refurbished by The LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway (SVRSevern Valley Railway) Coach Fund, became the Fund's new shop, while 70759 moved into Bewdley Yard on 8 December 2010 for restoration work to begin. 70759's own underframe was heavily corroded and therefore an early part of the restoration involved dismantling the body of 70442 while recovering any useful spare parts, and then overhauling its underframe. On 12 July 2011 the body of 70759 was moved onto the newly refurbished underframe of 70442, which by that time had been purchased from SVRSevern Valley Railway(H) by the Charitable Trust to ensure the latter would have 'clear title' to the completed vehicle.[6] A time lapse video of the move is available on Underframe Swop.

In mid-March 2012 the SVRSevern Valley Railway received a delivery of teak which was used for the fitting of new panels on 70759. SVRSevern Valley Railway News recorded that "…the teak we have received, legally purchased in Germany, is believed to be from the flotsam of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami disaster. This is a sobering reminder of the human tragedy of the tsunami. We shall never know the story that our teak could tell. But 70759 will in some small way be a memorial to the lives lost in that awful event'." By summer 2013 the teak panels had been fitted and the internal body frame modifications to form the four new passenger compartments had been completed,[7] with many parts from the body framing of 70442 being incorporated. An unforeseen problem was the need for the complete replacement of the roof, due to extensive corrosion of the poor quality fixings used in its wartime build. In August 2013 70759 moved into the Bewdley Paintshop where the new roof was fitted as a joint volunteer/full time project. With the exterior restoration substantially complete, 70759 was formally 'rolled-out' of the C&WCarriage & Wagon Works on 30th January 2014, effectively marking the midpoint of the project.[8]

Internal restoration continued for the next 18 months. On Thursday 30 July 2015 70759 was shunted out of Bewdley C&WCarriage & Wagon, moving to Kidderminster on Friday 7 August 2015 for further varnishing, and then to stay in the carriage shed whilst awaiting its turn in the mechanical workshop and paintshop. It entered the paintshop on 14 December 2015 for lining and lettering, further paint and varnish plus internal finishing.

GresleySir Nigel Gresley, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the London & North Eastern Railway 1923-1941 carriages in the 70000 number series were Parcels and Pigeon vans. With 70759 now being a Corridor Brake Third, the Trust considered that a new number was required. 24506 was one of two 1939-built four compartment Brake Thirds to Diagram 114 which had been destroyed by enemy action during 1943. LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway practice was to transfer the identities of destroyed rolling stock to their replacements (A3 "Grand Parade" being probably the best known example). Although the converted 70759 had design differences from Diagram 114 vehicles, an impoverished LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway might well have adapted existing surplus vehicles to fill the urgent post-war need for additional passenger carriages using available spares to a variant 'Diagram 114A' layout. The Trust therefore felt it appropriate to reallocate the number 24506 to 70759 as a hypothetical reconstructed replacement, albeit one built 73 years later.[9]

Internally the seats were upholstered in red & black cut moquette. Reproduction frames for the oval mirrors were made at Boston Lodge and their oval beveled mirrors by a firm in Kidderminster. The batteries were put in place and made to work, and LED lamp bulbs installed. The 'small van' and guard's compartment were restored to 1950s vintage condition, and the original pigeon racks refitted. On the mechanical side, the gangways, vacuum brake cylinders and dynamo/regulator set were refurbished and re-fitted, whilst the bogies were refurbished by volunteers and apprentices.

24506 was outshopped from the paintshop on Tuesday 9 February 2016, matching the rest of Set N in full pre-war livery and carrying its new number. On Thursday 17th March it entered the mechanical workshop for the completion of steam heating, re-bushing of brake linkage, a small amount of new platework, fitting of refurbished bogies, brake cylinders and gangways, and other mechanical work necessary before entry into SVRSevern Valley Railway service.

On Wednesday 17 August 2016 24506 was successfully test run between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth behind GWR 813. It was added to Set N on Friday 19 prior to its first run in SVRSevern Valley Railway passenger service on Saturday 20 August 2016.

When restored it had internally a wooden frame largely panelled with safety perspex glazed windows around the Guard’s seat, desk, setter and handbrake area, known as 'the glass house'. It was later removed due to operational safety concerns, over reaching the setter in an emergency.

The work was paid for by the owners, the SVRSevern Valley Railway Charitable Trust which raised £70.1k in donations, gift aid and grants through the generosity of its many enthusiastic supporters. The underframe of 70759 has been dismantled for spare sections, the centre portion being retained at Kidderminster carriage works as a strong and stable workbench[10].

See also

List of carriages


  1. 4149 was converted for use in a casualty evacuation train in 1939 and again in 1943 for overseas use. It was allocated to form part of US Army Hospital Train No 27. While based at Bournemouth West in 1944 it made seven operational trips including at least one to Kidderminster on 23 July 1944. It was then shipped overseas and saw service in France (including Cherbourg and Paris) and later Germany. It was in the formation of the first US hospital train to enter Germany via Aachen on 15th February 1945 and made 75 operational trips on the continent.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Longworth (2018) pp.278-9.
  2. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 177, story from Mr David St John Thomas, the 'David' of the then David and Charles
  3. LNER (SVR) Coach Fund
  4. 4.0 4.1 SVRSevern Valley Railway News 152
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 SVRSevern Valley Railway News 170
  6. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 175,177
  7. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 182
  8. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 185
  9. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 196
  10. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 188