BR MkI coaches

Such is the scope of this subject it is not possible to provide definitive coverage so we only aim to give a flavour of this stock before it finally disappears from "mainline" service altogether . Today the majority of non-EMU MkI stock is to be found on preserved railways although some of these and the Rail Charter Services Ltd (RCS) MkI sets do appear on National Rail Network excursion services.

The Southern Region ran the majority of its BR MkI coach stock in fixed sets, as did to a certain extent Network SouthEast for services on former Southern lines.

When first introduced on the Southern Region MkIs carried the prevailing crimson and cream livery. The last BR(S) stock appeared in these colours in 1956 .  From then onwards coaches were constructed or repainted into the Southern's beloved green - albeit to a different richer and darker shade than SR malachite.  The original BR livery specification was for black coach ends but from 1964 onwards ends were painted the same colour as the body sides to take advantage of the new airless spraying techniques. From the late 1960s BR Corporate blue and grey prevailed, though it is rumoured the Southern Region took the BR blue/grey specification being for main line trains only too literally and turned out a small number of coaches for a short time in overall blue.  From the late 1980s the colourful and complex Network SouthEast livery was applied.

The Southern Region introduced continental style colour bands at cantrail level, initially on boat train services, in 1960. Yellow designated first class accommodation and red catering vehicles. This soon spread to other Southern Region coaching stock, including Maunsell, Bulleid and EMU designs. By 1963 this practice had spread to the rest of BR.

Although second class accommodation was generally abolished in the south in stages up to September 1923 the Southern Railway and Region retained it for use on continental boat train services. Fifteen MkI second class opens were specially constructed for Southern boat train services. Passengers were seated in eighth bays of 2+1 pattern with a central door on each side opening into a seating bay. When European second class was abolished on 3 June 1956 the former third class was redesignated second and these fifteen unique coaches were initially designated second without any special markings. However their 48 seat only capacity created rostering problems on intensive Southern services so in 1960 they were reassigned and relettered as Restaurant Cars until an early withdrawal.

Even though international passenger travel by boats had been largely killed by airliners the Southern still continued with its traditional Ocean Liner Boat Train service to Southampton, though in its later days concentrating on cruise liners and the remaining intermittent Trans-Atlantic services. However on 1 November 1991 the last Ocean Liner set consisting of eight MkI FKs and one MkI BSK was disbanded to provide additional stock for West of England services.

Following Southern Railway practice the Southern Region stabled its coach stock at various points throughout their system though with the progressive withdrawal of locomotive hauled services all hauled coaches were allocated to Clapham Yard by 12 May 1986 (excepting six BSKs for the remaining SE/Central newspaper services). Further rationalisation of hauled coach stock under Network South East saw stock for the few remaining Southern services being supplied by (horror of horrors to Southern enthusiasts!) Old Oak Common and Newton Abbot.

For more information on BR MkI coaches you are strongly advised to read the master work on this subject - the book "British Railways Mark 1 Coaches by Keith Parkin MA, published by Pendragon in association with the HMRS, ISBN 1-899816-07-0".

Following pictures of MkI coaches in BR(S) green are from the RCS "Golden Jubilee" set and in their current specification are not authentic for BR(S) service. Coaches from this set may not have been allocated to the Southern Region at any time and they now run on Commonwealth bogies whereas B1 bogies would have been used at least in early BR(S) service.


photograph by Colin Duff

Brake First Corridor (BFK) S17023 from the RCS set pictured at Yeovil Junction on October 2nd 1999.  BFKs were not common and they did not regularly operate on the Southern.


photograph by Colin Duff

First Open (FO) S3123 from the RCS set also pictured at Yeovil Junction on October 2nd 1999.  FOs were not common on the Southern although a few First Corridors (FKs) were used. This coach was allocated to the Western Region in 1981.


photograph by Colin Duff

Brake Second Corridor (BSK) 35010 pictured at Salisbury on October 19th 1986 on an up West of England service to Waterloo.  Note the MkI is still in blue and grey on the left - since NSE had only been launched on June 10th that year - but the Mk2 First Corridor on the right is also in NSE livery.


photograph by Colin Duff

Originally a Buffet Restaurant (RB) now running as a Restaurant Kitchen Car (RBR) S1696 from the RCS set pictured at Yeovil Junction on October 2nd 1999.  In 1981 this coach was allocated to the Eastern Region.


photograph by Colin Duff

S5027 from the RCS set at Yeovil Junction on 2nd October 1999. In 1981 this coach was allocated to the Western Region.

Pair TSOs

photograph by Colin Duff

A pair TSOs in Network SouthEast excursion service at Andover on 24 September 1988. Note the double heading Class 33s!


photograph by Colin Duff

This photograph for end detail. A Mk1 TSO was observed stabled out of service - presumably because it had failed recently - at Andover on 24 September 1988. The swirly patterns on the black end are marks on the coach and not artefacts of jpeg compression!

Roof detail on Mk1 TSO 5034 at Sheffield Park on 21 July 2001.

photograph by Colin Duff


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This page was last updated 29 June 2005

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