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This website covers the latest information, news and history about the popular set of Gresley-designed varnished
teak carriages operating on the Severn Valley Railway.
The fleet was originally in a variety of ownerships – the LNER (SVR) Coach Fund; SVR (Holdings) PLC; and
private individuals. But 2016 saw all nine Gresley teak carriages coming within the sole ownership of the Severn
Valley Railway Charitable Trust (Charity No.1092723). This very welcome development secures their ownership for
the long term in the hands of an incorporated charity. Each of the carriages has its own history on how it came to be
part of the SVR fleet. But the outcome is a set of carriages broadly representative of everyday travel on the LNER
between the Wars and into the post-war era of the nationalised system. The aim is to keep the set in operational
service for our visitors to enjoy, though that can only be done with a continuing financial commitment and the
support of a committed workforce, both volunteer and paid SVR staff.
The set’s restoration began back in the 1970s with the acquisition of the Brake Composite, now running as
LNER 24068. Acquiring and restoring the remaining vehicles has been a long slow process of raising funds to
purchase; uncovering their history; discovering their condition as withdrawn from British Railways’ service or from
other uses; and learning the challenges and high cost of restoring life-expired main line railway vehicles. In some
cases this has meant ‘undoing’ changes made to the vehicles that served other purposes after their passenger
carrying days. Throughout the more than four decades of what might be called the ‘restoration phase’ a common
theme has been the input of the original LNER (SVR) Coach Fund. Without this the SVR would not have secured
what is presently Britain’s longest operational Gresley teak train. We are forever indebted to the drive, inspiration
and determination of those good souls who never lost sight of their objective of an operational Gresley train on what
many see as Britain’s premier steam railway.
Details of each restoration are covered in the descriptive sections on the carriages in ‘The Teak Set’ pages of
this website. A significant milestone was reached in 2016 with the completion of the ninth and final restoration – this
being Brake Third 24506 as converted from the 1943 Brake Pigeon Van 70759. But, as Winston Churchill might
have put it, this is not the end of the story, nor the beginning of the end. But it may be the ‘end of the beginning’.
Ahead hopefully lies a future that will maintain and enhance this ‘restoration gem’ for the enjoyment of future
generations. Over the coming decades caring for and operating these nine historic heritage carriages in timetabled
and charter services for our visitors is going to be a continuing challenge. There is scope for further detailed
improvements to each vehicle – one example of which was the recent re-equipping all nine carriages with LED
lighting to reduce the costly demands on the vehicles’ batteries. This ongoing tale will require a commitment of
labour and finance, both by volunteers and by the SVR, to match the original foresight of those who have brought
us thus far.
     2016 has also seen other milestones to mark completion
of the restoration phase. On 5th April the Charitable Trust’s
Gresley Kitchen Composite No.7960 took part in the
celebrations associated with the unveiling of the statue of Sir
Nigel Gresley at King’s Cross in that station’s new Western
Concourse near to Gresley’s former office. The statue was
commissioned by the Gresley Society, and the unveiling was
by Network Rail’s chairman, Sir Peter Hendry CBE before a
large crowd of Gresley supporters. The SVR was well
represented – principally by the nearby presence in Platform 8
of No.7960. On board, acting as stewards, were our Chairman,
Hugh McQuade, and SVRCT’s new trustee, David Mead. Also
present was Nick Paul, SVRH Chairman and another of the
charity’s trustees. This was an historic occasion with a number of ‘firsts’ including the first LNER passenger teak
carriage in ‘The Cross’ since the last teak Buffet Cars in the 1970s; the first Gresley tank loco since withdrawal of
the N2s in the early 1960s; the first GNR liveried vehicle for many a decade. Much interest was shown in the
carriage with a number of donations being made towards the Trust’s work.
And in September 2016 another chapter is being written with
the visit of Gresley Pacific Class A3 No.60103 Flying Scotsman.
All being well, this now famous locomotive will be hauling the first
assembly of nine restored Gresley-designed teak carriages since
this was last possible with the Gresley Society special train on 2nd
May 1964. Then it was an apple green LNER loco No.4472 hauling
a set of nine BR maroon Gresley teaks. This time it will be t’other
way round with 60103 in its latter-day BR ‘Brunswick Green’ livery
with nine varnished teak carriages. One day a correct livery combination may be achieved!
Honorary appointments: Consequent of the vehicle ownership changes, the honorary appointments attaching
to the LNER (SVR) Coach Fund have by agreement been transferred to the Trust’s LNER Carriage Group. The
Coach Fund continues chiefly as owner of a large number of spares and a facilitator of the Trust’s continuing work
on the SVR. The Fund and the Carriage Group share the same volunteer personnel.
Picture © James Bryan