The Thompson ‘Elizabethan’ Buffet Car No 1706

In 1946 the LNER was trying to return to the pre-war standards . CME Edward Thompson, who had succeeded to the post in 1941 had been the Carriage & Wagon works manager for the GNER in 1923, then returned to the Locomotive Side in 1927.


Materials, particularly the teak favoured by the LNER for coaching stock was in short supply after the war forcing a change to steel..


The new coaches for the re-instated “Flying Scotsman” service to Edinburgh were constructed with the traditional timber frame, but steel panels. Possibly due to supply problems, only two buffet vehicles were built in a “Festival of Britain” style with a 22ft long bar and circular chairs. This design caused a minor sensation resulting in our coach  featuring in the promotional film for the “Flying Scotsman” train. The exterior of the coach was streamlined to match the profile of the A4 locomotives.


On the introduction of the BR standard Mk1 Coaches following Nationalisation in 1948, the Thompson Buffet coaches were modified for use on ordinary trains and were so used until withdrawal in 1977. One was then broken up and the other preserved at Carnforth, then moved to Llangollen.


Little work was immediately possible due to the presence of Blue Asbestos lagging. Eventually sufficient monies were found to have this removed and initial restoration took place at Lairds Shipyard.


Final restoration was completed by Don Ware, Pete Lund and Bob Gordon and the vehicle is now available for use on Llangollen Railway.

Photos taken during the restoration process

All pics - John Rutter

The Thompson Brake Third No 1866

It was used in passenger service until 1975 when it became the support coach for 532 “Blue Peter, travelling everywhere with the locomotive carrying tools and equipment to keep the locomotive running, and accommodation for the crew.


Eventually, it had to be taken out of service due to rot in the side timbers. It was rescued by Pete Lund from the North York moors Railway and moved to Llangollen. It is being gradually restored to full running order requiring the complete replacement of both sides, one of which, by this time, had fallen off. The coach is now well on the way to completion and will be used as a “lounge car” to run with the Thompson Buffet.

Thompson Brake Third (Left) alongside Autocoach no 174 in the C&W workshops at Pentrefelin.

Photos John Rutter

Restoration in progress July 2006.

Photo John Rutter

GNR Brake Composite (BCK) No 229


This carriage was built at Doncaster to the designs of Sir Nigel Gresley in 1912 for the Great Northern Railway.  It had six compartments, three third class and three first class. The first class compartments seating only four.  There were two separate toilets, one for each class.  


Built with a steel underframe, the body framing and panels were originally made of Burma teak. The roof is of canvas covering wood impregnated with a chalk compound. The exterior has been finished in two different styles to represent the 1930’s and the 1950’s finishes. The varnished side shows how the carriage would have been when owned by the LNER in 1939. The crimson and cream side shows the finish under British Railways in 1950.


When first built this carriage would have run to East Anglia and Lincolnshire. It would also have run to South Yorkshire and there is in existence a photograph showing this coach behind ‘Sir Frederick Banbury’ one of Gresley’s famous A3 Pacifics on a train from Halifax in 1932. This carriage may also have run through Llangollen on the summer excursions to Barmouth and Pwllheli.  It came to Llangollen in 1996 from the Severn Valley Railway.


LNER  Lounge Buffet (RBL) No 1706


This carriage was built by the LNER at Doncaster in 1947, one of two for the new ‘Flying Scotsman’ set. Fitted with double glazing and pressure heating and ventilation, it is the only one of its type to survive and only one of six Thompson post-war carriages to be preserved. Two of these are at Llangollen. When built it would have been scumbled in an imitation teak finish.


When first built it ran on the East Coast route between London & Edinburgh, in that famous train The Flying Scotsman. In 1953 it was put into The Elizabethan. This train ran non-stop between London and Edinburgh and the carriage is seen in the 1954 film Elizabethan Express. The vehicle was rebuilt in 1959 and during the 1960’s it was cascaded to secondary use and spent a period on the Cambridge Buffet Express.      


The carriage came to Llangollen in 1988 and after a chequered career as a mess coach and as Santa’s Grotto is now restored to the original design of 1947.

This has the 22ft long bar and the alcove with eight seats as seen in the film

LNER  Brake Third (BTK) No 1866


This carriage was built at York in 1950 as a four compartment brake third numbered 1866. This was built by British Railways to an LNER design and was easily recognisable from the distinctive oval toilet window. It is the only one of its type to be preserved and only one of six Thompson post-war carriages to be preserved. Two of these are at Llangollen. When built it would have been scumbled in an imitation teak finish.


When first built it would have run on the East Coast route between London & Edinburgh, possibly in such famous trains as The Flying Scotsman and The Scarborough Flyer. During the 1960’s it was cascaded to secondary use and there are instances of these carriages passing through Llangollen on the trains to the Butlins holiday camp at Pwllheli. Later it was relegated to departmental use and at one time was the support coach for ‘Blue Peter’      


The carriage is built with a very strong steel underframe. The body frame is timber covered with sheet steel. It came to Llangollen in 1992 and is now being restored.


LNER Bogie Pigeon Van (BGP) 4268 & 70491


This carriage was built at York in 1940 as a bogie pigeon van numbered 4268. These vans originally were attached to mainline trains to carry racing pigeons to far off destinations. There, they would be released by the station staff at the appropriate time to race home. Pigeon racing was a very popular pastime before the war especially in mining districts of the UK.


The carriage was built with a steel underframe and body framing and panels of Burma teak. After the war when pigeon traffic declined these vehicles were used as general parcels and mail vans up to 1975. In this guise they were used over the whole country and would have been seen fairly frequently in Llangollen.   


This example was a grounded body at Hereford where it had been used as a workshop for Clan Line, the Southern pacific. It came to the railway in 1992 to be used as a store at Carrog. This was before the railway reached Carrog in 1995. It has since been re-united with its wheels and is still being used as a store.


ECJS All Third Class Corridor (TK) No 377


This carriage was built at Doncaster to the designs of Sir Nigel Gresley in 1907 for the East Coast Joint Stock Committee.  This was a managing committee from the three railways on the east coast, The Great Northern Railway, the North Eastern Railway and the North British Railway.  They were responsible for the Anglo-Scottish expresses on the east coast main line.  When first built this carriage would have run from London (Kings Cross) to York, Newcastle and Edinburgh, possibly in the Flying Scotsman train. During the 1930’s it was transferred to the Great Central section of the LNER, where it could have run to Wrexham and Mold. This carriage may also have run through Llangollen on the summer excursions to Barmouth and Pwllheli in the 1950’s


It was built to a classic design of seven compartments with a toilet at each end, a design that was still being built in the 1960’s.  Built with a steel underframe, the body framing and panels were made originally of Burma teak. The roof is of wood covered with canvas impregnated with a chalk compound. The exterior has been finished in the crimson and cream it would have carried under British Railways in 1950.


It has had a very precarious existence having been involved in a collision in 1924, a fire in 1991 and from being scrapped in 1998. It came to Llangollen in 1999 where hopefully and now at 101 years old it can be restored.


The Sunshine Coach

LNER 4-wheel Pigeon Van (BYP) 6854 & 70250


One of the more unusual vehicles at Llangollen is what was known as The Sunshine Coach.  It was originally built at Stratford in 1930 as a 4 wheeled pigeon van numbered 6854. They were attached to mainline trains to carry racing pigeons to far off destinations. There, they would be released by the station staff at the appropriate time to race home. Pigeon racing was a very popular pastime before the war especially in mining districts.


There was so much pigeon traffic that the LNER also built bogie pigeon vans to carry them. We have an example of one of these at Llangollen No 4268 built at York in 1940. During and after the war when pigeon traffic declined these vehicles were used as general parcels and mail vans.  


The coach was rebuilt as a saloon for disabled children at Llangollen in the 1980’s with funds from the Sunshine Foundation. It is now being restored for that use again.