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LNER Buffet Cars - in service

Buffet cars on the LNER and in BR days is such a large subject that I have revised it into three "chapters":

- Buffet Cars (the first ones, converted from ex-GNR. ex-JS, ex-NER and ex-GER carriages)
- Buffet Cars - 61'6" (the Group Standard designs
- Buffet Cars - in service

The third part subdivides further:

- Distribution on the LNER
- Formations with buffet cars

Buffet Cars on the LNER

There were two distinct periods, one following from the other. The distribution was also quite distinct.

The two phases

At first, when the buffet conversions were being produced, their deployment was:

1932-35

WHERE DEPLOYED

Pre-Group converted

-----------------------------

-----------------------------

GN Section

10

ex-GNR and ex-GN&NER JS   (two 52'6" and eight 58'6") *

NE Area

  6

ex-NER

GE Section

  3

ex-GER

GC Section

  2 **

ex-GNR

SS Area

  0

  -

NS Area

  0

  -

-----------------------------

-----------------------------

TOTAL

21

* The first two conversions, 52'6" long, were converted back to TOs at an unknown date in the 1930s.
** Another typo in Clive Carter's article in Back Track where "8" was stated.

The second period, when the LNER "standard" additions were made (and the two earlier prototypes) was quite different. Note that the two types - conversions and LNER "standards" - were almost equal in numbers although there are more illustrations in service of the former.

1935-37

WHERE DEPLOYED

LNER D.167/185

-----------------------------

-----------------------

GN Section

  1

NE Area

16 *

GE Section

  7

GC Section

  1

SS Area

  1*

NS Area

  0

-----------------------------

-----------------------

TOTAL

26

* includes the two prototypes built earlier.

I have not included the green & cream Tourist Train Buffet Cars to D.168 because they were tied up in fairly fixed formations. Note how as the RB fleets were established, most of the newly built ones to LNER D.167 were taken by two areas: the NE and East Anglia. The regional variations really stand out:

Areas and Sections

NE Area - invested most heavily in the new "standard" RB and with the conversions, ended up with by far the largest fleet totalling 22 independent buffet cars in timetabled and excursion trains.

GN Section - was quite different. It remained a big user of pre-Grouping conversions, for timetabled trains and excursions, and for the latter it added a large number of green & cream Tourist Train Sets - actually the largest number and much used out of London and the West Riding.

GE Section - may be described as falling between the above and the size of its RB fleet was increased significantly by adding the second largest number of newly-built LNER D.167. Clive described much use in timetabled services.

GC Section - was different again: it remained a low user of either type of RB in timetabled services and, for excursions, it had a lot of ex-GCR matchboard restaurant cars which it used (and converted to Kitchen Cars). It also used Tourist Train Sets by borrowing from the pool based in the GN Section: this was another reason why that Section's allocation was so large [see separate topic about the TTS].

Scotland - differed most of all for even less use was made of independent buffet cars, a single D.167 being employed in a complex timetabled roster on the Southern Scottish Area (SSA, also called the NB Section). Instead, a goodly number of Tourist Train Sets was taken for excursions and used quite imaginatively [see separate topic about the TTS]. I wouldn't be surprised is they were borrowed by the NSA when required, in the same way that the GC Section borrowed the GN Section's.

The main point is that when the LNER started providing Buffet Cars between 1932-37, and Thompson later added more of course, their use was much more varied than has been generally recognised. And for modellers there's another problem: how were RBs marshalled in the formations?

Formations with Buffet Cars

Analysis of the rosters for the GN Section is possible for 1939 and it shows:
  5 with timetabled trains (all conversions)
  4 excursion/spare (conversions and the only new one to D.167).

Note how the timetabled trains got conversions. There was a hint of this in the NE Area which I have yet to analyse. However there were two different kinds of deployment:

- inside a set formation
- outside the main formation

The former was the least common deployment in LNER days but it is fitting to describe how it all started, first:

1 - RB inside a formation

Clive's article in Back Track gave details of timetabled use of buffet cars but the rosters often did not say exactly where they were placed in a formation and I am not sure how common it was to place an RB in the middle of a formation. In "LNER Trains & Formations - Principal Services" we explored this to a degree and in the two examples we described, both services were in relatively intensive multiple circuits.

- The GN Section's "Cambridge Beer Trains" where a pre-Grouping conversion was placed in the middle of the train.
- The NE Area where a Newcastle-Middlesbrough service was set up with a D.167 RB in the middle of the formation.

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We used this picture to show the genesis of RB use on the LNER in the "Cambridge Buffet Expresses" (CBE). This is the original formation of ex-GNR carriages with the 52'6" conversion in the middle (BTK, RB, CK). Photo: Photomatic.

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Another illustration from the book and that by 1937, two formations were employed: 5 and 7 carriages long, both with replacement RBs, 58'6" long. The whole train was still made up with ex-GNR carriages. C1 4-4-2 No 4436 is passing Meldreth with the shorter formation. Photo: E.R. Wethersett.

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An early BR view with B17 No 61671 Royal Sovereign in charge. The RB is an ex-GNR or ex-JS conversion. This is almost the identical formation we showed in the book, on another day.

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In BR days there were four uses:

- continuation with the CBEs.
- in general service expresses made up with BR Mk.1 stock.
- in football excursions, also made up with BR Mk.1 stock.
- a complete "Cambridge Beer Train" was often taken for a Sunday excursion on the GE and the ECML. It wasn't unknown for the CBE destination boards to be left on the roof!

Quite a few pictures showing late BR practices are in the second part about LNER 61'6" buffet cars (see link below) but none show a complete train. The odd one shows the RB behind the loco but most show them in the middle of the train; times had changed. Here is a half decent one:

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A scene at Liverpool Lime Street on 14th January 1976 and what in Big Four days used to be the 10am Newcastle-Liverpool with a restaurant car across the Pennines only, and now set off at 10.02 with a buffet car for the whole journey. E9132 had been built for the GE Section in 1937 as No 644. Note the sleek Mk.1 1st (FK) marshalled against the buffet car and that both are at the Liverpool station buffers end, with the customary BG at the outer end. Photo: B. Watkins.

2 - RB outside a formation

To increase their utilisation, in LNER days most RBs were placed outside a timetabled formation so that, on arrival, the catering could be taken off and sent back with another train. It also enabled the staff to work back more quickly. Buffet cars were also placed outside a formation if such catering was only offered for part of the way. Two examples of this practice that Clive and I described were:

- The NE Area's Liverpool-Newcastle service where an ex-NER conversion was added for a leg between Newcastle-Leeds.

- The GN Section's four-portion 4.5pm train from King's Cross where an ex-GNR/JS conversion went to Cleethorpes.

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The 4.5pm train from King's Cross heads north behind A4 No 2510 Quicksilver. The ex-GNR RB is at the head of the train, attached to a portion for Cleethorpes. A bogie van was added behind the tender. Photo: Photomatic.

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8.45am KX-Doncaster

There is no known photograph of this working but I'm going to go to town on it because there is such a story, showing what a secondary express on the GN Section could actually look like, and why. Here is the roster from the 1939 (summer) Carriage Working book:

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Before exploring the carriages, this was the raison d'etre for this working:

- although classed as an Express, the departure at 8.45am connected almost all the stations and the 7 carriages would have been taken by a C1 large Atlantic, or a mixed traffic 2-6-0.
- buffet catering was added as a "breakfast car".
- parcels traffic on this train would have been heavy and two bogie vans were provided, one at each end of the train.

The general formation - comprised a core of 4 carriages (TK, TK, TK, FK) all of which had been modernised with Gresley 61'6" stock built in 1937-38.

The bogie vans - were the old stalwart, ex-GNR 56'6" BGs.

The buffet car - this being the GN Section where nearly all the RBs were conversions, it was covered by a 58'6" one ex-GN/JS. It was placed outside the passenger carriages and I'll describe how it was handled in a moment.

On Mondays only - the train was strengthened, a common practice around the weekend, and two carriages was quite generous. I've described before how strengtheners were often drawn from the pool of older carriages, no longer in top flight service and you have to look hard to identify this pair of "Thirds". They were actually 3rd Opens built by Howlden c1905 with a 50'10 1/2" body and clerestory roof. On a Monday they would really have stood out, but passengers were used to mixtures of stock and these would have been comfortable, equipped with tables and right next to the buffet car. This was inspired rostering.

What happened after arrival at Doncaster? - two things: the buffet car and and its neighbouring BG were taken away by the station pilot, to be returned to London. The main body of the train, however (the four passenger carriages and BG on the rear) was taken on to York.

The buffet car's Up working - was made by hitching it to the rear of a train bound for King's Cross, which was the 1.17pm from Leeds Central, another secondary express, which called at Doncaster two hours after the RB had arrived. This time the buffet car was placed on the rear of the train, a relatively simple manoeuvre - with some bogie vans added outside it. It was a classic GN Section working for which seven minutes were allowed.

Did this train need catering? - arguably, no, but that would be to misunderstand this roster, the main purpose being for the buffet car to serve as a breakfast car with the 8.45am from King's Cross to Doncaster. The return working was simply a convenient way of getting it - and its steward - back to London in the space of a single shift. The man would have taken his lunch break at Doncaster and it all dovetailed well.

There was another RB working at KX which went as far as Peterborough and came back later attached to another train. I'll save that one for another day!

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Rebuilt ex-GER B12 No 8562 at an unknown location in the late 1930s with the 11.30am Liverpool St.-Ipswich express, a 10-coach formation with an LNER "standard" RB outside it, and a short NPCS van on the rear. All the visible carriages are ex-GER, except for the RB which would have been serving passengers over lunch. The calibre of this train had not merited a restaurant car and an RB would have been a good step forward. It would have been worked back in similar fashion with a different train. Note the destination board. The running number of the RB is not quite legible but may have been 649 (of 1937).

For passengers, a trek through up to 10 swaying carriages for a cuppa and some cake may not have been much fun, and for modellers, not what they may have been presuming. Is this another example of preconceived opinion being upset by how railways actually did things? Ooh-er! Photo: Author's collection, LNER Press Section, E.R. Wethersett.

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An undated view from the 1950s at an unknown location shows B2 No 61639 Norwich City heading a gangwayed 5-set with an LNER Gresley 61'6" RB placed outside the train, behind the tender. Triple destination boards suggest one of the shorter Cambridge Buffet formations, but for the unusual placing of the RB - usually inside the train - which is a mixture of Thompson and Gresley stock, in ex-LNER teak and BR b&c liveries.

Empty stock has been parked alongside the running line and a similar RB can be seen. The destination board reads "Clacton-on-Sea.....", the rest, alas, invisible.

I have just noticed that both RBs in this picture have the original bodies, before what became known as the "wooden wall" conversion on the kitchen side. These modifications were carried out by BR but I have as yet no exact dates. Photo: Real Photographs.

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Captured on Saturday 7th September 1968 at Exeter St. Davids is W9118E (built in 1936 for the NE Area as No 24082) behind D1005 Western Venturer. It has been placed outside the formation, which is the 15.20 Plymouth-Sheffield, possibly because it didn't run all the way. Photo: John H. Bird.

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LNER buffet cars from conversions: are here.

LNER 61'6" "standard" Buffet Cars: are here.

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