Carriage 70759 has had an interesting history, built in York in 1943 to aid the war effort as a Pigeon Van (big business for the Railways until 1966) it is a gangwayed bogie carriage of standard Gresley outline and made to full passenger specifications used to convey baskets of carrier pigeons to the point of release, as well as general parcel traffic.
This teak bodied carriage remained in traffic until 1971, when it, along with two others, were sold to a book publisher as storage units. Unfortunately the sale did not go well for having completed the sale, British Rail promptly lost the carriages. The day, however, was saved by a group of Rail Enthusiasts who managed to track down the carriages to York marshalling yard, where one of them had been commandeered as a mess room for the yard-men. The marshalling Yard master was not so willing to relinquish them saying they’d be a riot were the publishing company to try to take their mess room away. So the situation was left a month while the men made alternate arrangements and the coach returned to its rightful owners. Having changed hands a number of times ownership then passed to the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust, on whose behalf the LNER carriage Group are refurbishing it.
At one end of the carriage is a luggage van, complete with fold down shelves which would have carried the pigeons, as well as a guard’s brake compartment and a W.C. A side corridor, (70759 was one of the later corridor coaches, built 1943, on the British Main-line) allow access to the passenger compartments which house the sliding doors, the original designs of which were created at the tail end of the Victorian Period, between 1896 and 1898 and were not updated until 1950.
Having survived the war, racing pigeons, a grumpy yard master and years of passenger wear and tear the six foot doors began to show their age and so Chambrelan were called to fit a run of linear rails which would allow the doors to be supported along the full length of travel.
The doors design in 1898, (one of which has been in use since 1912), needed support along the full length of travel since they were very tall, but the original design meant the door was only being supported half way along and since the doors are extremely heavy they projected over the end of the runners, which faced daily wear and tear.
Having discussed the project at length Chambrelan suggested the E46 linear rail and the G54 carrier, capable of carrying 310kg in the major axis. The doors were so heavy they needed two carriers on each rail, allowing the door to slide along the full length of the travel.
“Chambrelan have been extremely helpful. As soon I called Jeremy he came straight over and we decided there and then. The great improvement over the original is the continuous full length support.” Richard Gunning, LNER Project Manager