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The "Barnum" Open 3rds

An overview of a more complex subject than first meets the eye. There used to be two kinds of 3rd Open with seating arranged:
   2:1 for use as dining cars alongside restaurant and kitchen cars
   2:2 where the main use was for excursions.

In principle either could be used for either application (if not as satisfactorily, of course) and when the telegraphic codes were created, the LNER used "TO" for both types. In the carriage rosters the right choice could be covered by stating the number of seats, the 2:2 version having one third more. For a 60ft carriage it was TO(48) and TO(64), respectively. In BR days a difference in codes was finally established by adding a prefix "T" which the LNER had previously used to indicate the green & cream Tourist stock with 2:2 seating.

Robinson designed matchboard versions of both kinds and there were several catering types but the excursion one was covered by two Diagrams with thirty-eight built:
   TO = 32
BTO =    6

Running numbers were, respectively, prefixed by the LNER with a "5":
- 89, 94-7, 153, 160, 238, 252, 396, 465, 482, 657, 661-2, 664-6, 668, 670, 684, 698, 700-2, 710-4, 718-9
- 146, 155, 222. 695-7

The GCR was not alone for other companies also built excursion-dedicated stock. The GCR's historical claim to fame arises from the fact that when introduced in 1910 they marked a turning point on the GCR from conventionally panelled and beaded carriages to varnished teak matchboarding below the windows and, at the van ends, all the way up to the roof. The BTO and TO designs acquired the rather jolly nickname of "Barnum". However, they were not entirely precursors of the general service matchboard designs which began to be built from the following year, 1911.

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It's convenient to show the Diagram for the BTO first because all the relevant stuff is displayed. Note how, although it's greatly overr-stated in the drawing and not at all realistic (many carriage Diagrams exaggerated the body profile), there was no curved tumblehome below the waist: it was flat and vertical. The upper half was also flat but angled back almost imperceptibly, especially at the van end where it is almost impossible to see with the naked eye. This contributed to a rather boxy appearance and, some would say, "continental" or "American" appearance. This profile was not repeated: subsequent matchboard designs had a conventional outline with an elegantly curved tumblehome below the waist.

The narrow end vestibule - at both ends of the TO and BTO - was also not to be repeated. Indeed, Robinson spurned end vestibules with doors for all his future designs (except for a restaurant composite of 1913). In addition, all the doors opened inwards and, even more unusually, the passenger doors had no droplights, only fixed glazing, in four panes. This, too, was not to be repeated. In truth, the only new design feature that was continued was the use of teak matchboarding. Perhaps Robinson wanted to make a statement with carriages for excursion use and cultivate the traffic, for which ricketty old bangers on six wheels had been a staple for some time, as did Gresley some years later with his "Tourist" stock?

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The 2:2 seat layout limited the space for a complete lavatory with W.C. (water closet) and wash basin so, instead of providing a longer one, they were separated and placed on opposite sides of the corridor.

In the van end - single sliding doors were provided, which were alright if well maintained, but otherwise prone to stiffness. The concept had been introduced during the 1900s as an external feature of bogie vans and Robinson was to use again in his matchboard BG of 1913-14, but the "Barnum" BTO of 1910 was a complete one-off - it was the only passenger-carrying vehicle to be fitted with sliding doors and they were placed internally. After these episodes, the concept was abandoned altogether in favour of hinged doors. The end vestibule door for the guard was fitted with a droplight, but the ducket, which the GCR normally provided on both sides, was omitted. The guard was expected to stick his head out. No hand brake was provided either; it was a little spartan and with the sliding doors, probably draughty, too. By contrast, sliding van doors on the GNR were of the "plug" type which sealed better, but they too were eventually abandoned by Gresley who, after the Grouping, began to provide a heater as well. Conditions for the guard, often primitive at first, gradually got better.

The underframe layout - became the standard one for 60ft carriages, carried on Spencer 10'6" bogies with heavy journals. This was arguably a case of safe, over-engineering and 8ft bogies were used for 56ft carriages. In 1909, when the GNR had introduced a similar carriage length of 61'6", it had also fitted a longer bogie (10') but within a few years Gresley's 8'6" bogie was available and a heavy version was only used where it was really required. It's an interesting aspect of the thinking behind these "Barnum" opens and their intended use for cheap-fare excursion traffic.

Originally fitted with dual braking for use all over the country, the LNER began removing the Westinghouse brake in the very late 1920s.

Over the years other aspects of the design were modified and these are described under the photographs. Author's collection.

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An official photograph taken in 1910 at Dukinfield of newly-built TO No 153. Originally some of the large windows were droplights and the nearest one can be seen lowered by a couple of inches. This was a grand feature which the GNR and LNER used in some of its 1st class carriages but in practice the ventilation was not so good and in the "Barnums" it was changed later. In the photograph, a combination of the play of light, fresh varnish and cleanness make a stunning impression but, alas, this did not last in service. One suspects that they weren't visited by the carriage cleaners as often as the main line trains. Photo: Gorton negative, Doncaster Dwg Office, author's collection.

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TO No 153 on the same day which, from a lower and more end-on angle, isn't as flattering with the recessed end vestibule and its large grab handles contrasting with the rest and more streamlined body. The door handle is difficult to identify and looks like a conventional door knob! The British Standard scissors gangway shows well. Photo: Gorton negative, Doncaster Dwg Office, author's collection.

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TO No 5700 in late LNER condition, seen in the 1940s, possibly at Mansfield. In the vestibule, the large grab handles are a different style, a variation when construction was spread over several years. Changes to the body and roof are described in the next two pictures. Photo: Author's collection.

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Captured on 28th May 1949 is "Barnum" TO No E5712 at Gorton, recently shopped and still in varnished teak.

The ventilation in the body has been revised significantly. It looks like four of the windows have had their droplights sealed and toplights installed with sliding lights. This modification would not have been undertaken lightly. The LNER recognised a lack of ventilation on hot sunny days in the corridors of Gresley designs where there were large fixed windows and began to increase the number of toplights in new construction from 1938 so this upgrading could have been carried out around the same time, or perhaps the problem was worse and a start was made earlier? I can't help thinking that a saving by not fitting roof ventilators proved to be a short cut that had to be rectified later.

On the roof, three changes were made: racks for destination boards; a long curved rainstrip; and on the cornice above the doors, a slimmer rain deflector. Photo: Author's collection.

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A marvellous view of a "Barnum" BTO is undated but the late BR lettering - the number appears to be E5695E - suggests the late 1950s and either maroon or possibly plain brown. Starting from the near end, the recessed end vestibule shows the different door provided for the guard with a droplight and a lever door handle. The depth of the sliding van doors lacks grace but the door handle is so small that one can only imagine that these were good, free-running fixtures. The lettering is partly concealed but there is a scribbled note on the Diagram which suggests that it would have read "Load 3 Tons Distributed".

The modified roof, windows and toplights with sliding ventilation are the same as on TO Nos 5700 and E5712 above. Once again, a full set for each window was not provided, only half of them. Photo: R.S. Carpenter.

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A preserved "Barnum" at Loughborough, (GCR No 664) shows how grand these carriages were when freshly built or overhauled. And such a tonic after all the black & white pictures which barely do them justice. The LNER replaced the lavatory end windows, originally etched with the GCR crest, by plain versions. Photo: Author's collection.

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In service

The 32 "Barnums" could have provided for three 10-coach trains but in practice, excursion trains varied in length between 7-11 carriages and all-"Barnum" formations seem to have been rare, partly because many were distributed among the larger stations for, I would suggest, chartered parties requiring their own carriage to be attached to a normally timetabled service. Use as strengtheners is unlikely.

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A grand picture of an above-average excursion during the mid-1920s is captured behind B7 5470 in the Pennines. Note the contrast between the two styles of end vestibule grab handles.

The train gets hard to decipher towards the far end and a possible interpretation is that this was a complete "Barnum" formation with a matchboard restaurant car (which could have been serving as a buffet car). Excursion formations of this calibre would have needed something. The LNER later rebuilt eight matchboard RCs of 1911-13 into kitchen cars for services like this. Photo: Real Photographs.

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An excellent example of how most excursions were made up, using stock to hand. 8B Atlantic No 1086 heads a down excursion made up to 7 carriages and many different types with three "Barnums" leading, from the allocation to Marylebone; followed by three Parker-style; and a non-gangwayed brake end:

BTO

60'

Barnum

  TO

60'

Barnum

  TO

60'

Barnum

  TO

60'

Parker

  TK

45'

Parker

  TK

50'

Parker

BT

50'

London Suburban

They've been arranged tidily, but what a variety! The 60ft Parker-style TO dated from 1906-07 when six had been built on 6w bogies as 3rd class dining cars - they created quite a stir - they became increasingly surplus to requirements and could be cascaded for use as general service opens in excursions. The London Suburban BT on the far end would have resulted from a shortage of gangwayed brake ends in high summer.

Note, by the way, how clean these London-based "Barnums" are compared with the ones from further north. Photo: Author's collection.

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Another 7-carriage excursion from Marylebone, this time behind 11E No 432 Sir Edward Frasier, heads north through Charwelton after picking up water on the troughs. On this occasion 5 "Barnum" opens with a single BTO were provided with corridor coaches outside them.

"Barnum" BTOs appear to have been relatively thin on the ground and, instead, a Parker BTK was put at the north end. A conventional matchboard carriage seems to be on the rear, possibly a TK or a CK (excursions were known to provide a few 1st class seats). Quite why it hadn't been marshalled next to the Parker BTK but outside the formation is hard to explain because it would have been placed there before the train was taken down to the station. A possible explanation may be that it was a composite with its 1st class seats placed at the station buffers end for the boarding convenience of the upper class travellers; it became a common practice at terminal stations but in this case it is of course conjecture. Photo: LGRP.

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An old LGRP print whose caption may be suspect but states "11F No 509 Prince Albert passing Ashby Magna on an Up Bradford Express". It's not clear enough for me to analyse the formation beyond a non-gangwayed 50' clerestory 3rd and, ahead of it, two "Barnum" TOs which, I suspect, were serving a chartered excursion party from Bradford. Inclusion of the non-gangwayed clerestory meant that the "Barnums" would have been isolated from the rest of the train. One senses a little difficulty providing carriages for this working. Photo: LGRP.

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An undated view, probably from the 1930s before this loco was modified with Caprotti valve gear (in 1938) shows B3 No 6167, formerly Lloyd George, passing through Woodhead station on the ascent to the summit with what may be a Manchester-Cleethorpes express.

There's a "Barnum" TO behind the tender, not normally used as a strengthener. A possible explanation may be that it was serving a chartered excursion party and, unless the staff had fitted a gangway adaptor, it would not have allowed access to the rest of the train and its catering.

The carriage windows are as originally built but roof racks for destination boards have been added. It's not possible to tell whether or not a curved rainstrip had also been fitted. Photo: R.S. Carpenter.

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New addition

In BR days the "Barnums" remained in excursion trains and I have seen two pictures of them in the North of England, in each case a single one behind the tender. Here is an example at Hull Paragon in July 1949.

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Ex-NER Class A6 No 69796 is moving a train of empty stock which has the air of a summer excursion "made-up" set with a variety of ex-LNER and pre-Grouping carriages. The rear of the train is concealed but the leading six coaches can be made out:

  TO

60'

ex-GCR Barnum

  TK

52'6"'

Gresley

BTK

61'6"'

Gresley

BTK

45'

ex-GCR Parker

BTK-TK

52' (twin)

Gresley (SP)

.... remainder not visible.

The steel-panelled twin had been built in 1935 for the GN Section's "steel quintuple sets". The oldest carriage in the train that's visible was the ex-GCR Parker from the turn of the century. The "Barnum" was 38 years old and would have lasted for a further half-dozen years until displaced by slightly less old stock. Note how much of the loco and train was still of pre-Grouping origin. Sights like this were common in Summer and continued well into BR days, in this case for excursions to York or the coastal resorts. Photo: Real Photographs.

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Modelling GCR clerestories: is here.

GCR carriages - 50ft London Suburban: are here.

GCR carriages - matchboard: are here.

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