The South Devon Railway Enthusiasts' site

Ex GWR Coach 276

Progress - Spring 2023.

276 was built on the 5th May 1945 as part of lot 1665 to diagram K42.  It had one 3rd class seat (for the Guard!) and two luggage compartments.  Gas heating was added on 22nd February 1947, which would have been when it became a Parcels Train Brake Van because "Wolverhampton and Plymouth" was painted on the sides as job number 80671 on 18th March 1947.  The gas heating storage was changed from an 8’3” X 1’4” cylinder to propane cylinders on 21st June 1958.
The building remarks list the following:
Electric light (Leitner), self lit coach, ordinary steam appliance ('U' tube heater under guard's seat), Standard gangway each end, 9'0" P.S. Bogies, 'F' axle boxes, electric food heater in Guard's compartment.  Fire appliances were fitted on 5th May 1945   Load was 15 tons with a Tare weight of 29T 16C.

We have since found evidence of it being in parcels service in 1972 (a photograph of it in all blue livery at Stockport awaiting loading).
It was condemned in 1975 and became part of the Old Oak Common Depot breakdown train.  This is when it was gutted and fitted with a chequer plate floor because it was used to carry jacks, packing and specialist equipment for re-railing trains.  This is the condition we got it in and have since spent in excess of £12,500 on restoration.  The interior has been fully rebuilt and a new Guard's compartment built.
The other coaches in the lot were coaches 91 to 100 and 268 to 277.  98 was used for the official photographs and has been preserved on the Severn Valley Railway at Kidderminster.  98 came straight out of parcels service and wasn't wrecked.  Though part of the same batch and ostensibly built to the same diagram, 98 has detail differences, including no evidence of a food heater!

We have made a few discrete modifications to the vehicle to assist in its revenue earning potential.  There’s now a door into the large luggage compartment which lines up with the end corridor connection to assist in getting people from the rest of the train into "Santa's Magic Garden" and there's also full 240 volt AC wiring, with RCCD, for land line or generator supplied equipment.

276 is the standby brake for the service set and as it's become more presentable will see more use.  It is hoped that it will provide the "shop on the train" facilities for the all Great Western train, once the other GWR vehicles have been restored.
276 has been chartered in the past as a travelling bar since chilling equipment can be easily used and there's plenty of space for stocks !!

The coach has also seen some unwanted extra paint work whilst waiting overnight for Santa's more appreciative audience.  Fortunately most of this cleaned off without damaging the correct annotations on the side.

The London Group's next project will be Ex BR(W) built Hawksworth 2180, but more of that elsewhere.

When complete 276 will form part of the Great Western train with 6515, two art deco "Excursion Coaches" 1285 and 1295, Hawksworth First/Third Brake 7377, Hawksworth ‘wheelchair friendly’ Buffet 2180 and 9111 (King George).

A volunteer cleans 276 - click for larger image Click for the full picture
276 gets a wash at Buckfastleigh Spring 1998 276 at Buckfastleigh October 1998
Click for the full Picture
276 with Errol Lonsdale forming the Santa train November 1998
Filling in Large Luggage Compartment The reinstated corridor
Priming Ceiling Ceiling in finish gloss white, hoops under coat
276  in service (Note roof boards) The ideal vehicle to carry bicycles !
June 2001
Large Luggage Compartment nearly finished Corridor Doors being prepared for Scumble
Applying Two Tone Scumbling to Corridor Two Tone Scumbling takes shape in Corridor
Buckfastleigh Yard April 2003
In April 2004 it was decided to repaint the coach as it was becoming a little tired after several years work on the SDR and also as a result of the graffiti attack at Buckfastleigh in December 2000. The Coach has now been repainted into a rather slendid Blood and Custard livery. Below is a picture taken at the Diesel Gala held on the railway in June 2004.
In December 1010 the former Ashburton end corridor bellows was replaced with a new one from SDR Engineering.  At this time the coach was also turned around so Santa's grotto could be put on the Ashburton end of the train.  This has the principle benefit that another passenger coach is on the platform which eases loading.  Santa therefore walks through the train to get to his grotto and so he meets most of the young passengers along the way.
In 2020 276 was returned to a version of GWR Chocolate and Cream livery though only the Guard’s doors have their labels.
March 2023
Refurbished vestibule lamp Corridor with new lamps
Detail of lamp
In the spring of 2023 276 was returned to a baggage van after being Santa’s Grotto for a large number of years.  The opportunity has been taken to upgrade the lighting to LED throughout and the corridor now has train PA speakers.  One can be seen in the panel before the second corridor lamp.  ( Click on long corridor image for larger view ).  The Guard’s compartment has the train PA transmitter with provision for a standard message box.

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