Bulleid coach 100S

100S This is the only photograph we have of coach 100S, taken at Brighton late April 1948 (going by the locomotive also in the photograph, WD 2-8-0 Nº77259).

photograph: Mike Morant collection

There is a lot of mystery surrounding this plywood construction Bulleid coach. It was, apparently, built without the full knowledge of the Southern Railway board and once built was kept hidden from view at Stewarts Lane. It was authorised by Head Office Order 3359 of 27th April 1946, which was an instruction to Lancing works for "one saloon for inspection purposes", no mention of a sleeping car! It was officially completed in November 1946, but probably outshopped some months earlier. It had Bulleid's own design of radial bearing bogies, on a standard underframe, branded 67ft 1in overall and was plated as 32tons. The Southern's drawing register lists the coach as being to Diagram 1873.
The design has been likened to an inverted ship's hull with the keep plate or ridge rail running along the centre of the roof like the keel of an upsode-down ship. Pre-formed sections 9ft 5ins wide made of 9/16ths in nine-ply birch were bolted to the ridge rail and underframe and resin-bonded to the saloon framework which was of similar ply construction.
The bogie design involved two radial bearing pads, one on the front and one on the back of the bogie, 14ft 2in apart. The pads were sprung to accommodate both the swing and the fore and aft pitching of the bogies. The downside to this arrangement was that unless kept very well lubricated the bogies were sluggish in rotating when meeting a curve which resulted in excess wheel wear, rail wear and rough riding.
According to Kidner* it was a sleeping car built for the use of the top management of the Railway, including Bulleid himself. It was numbered 100S and ran with a generator van, ex-SECR LV 1987, Nº97S, two dining cars Nº98S (ex-7940) and 99S (ex-7943) with a nondescript brake Nº444S (ex-4444). The coach had a single centre door and six windows all placed high up the sides. Its sleeping capacity was provided by twelve berths - eleven bedrooms with hot and cold water and an attendant's room, a lavatory and a shower.

Kidner suggests that it was only out on the road once. However, Bulleid's son** writes that Sir Cyril Hurcomb, first Chairman of British Railways, "made one or two trips in this saloon and remarked to Bulleid that it was the most beautifully riding coach he had ever been in". Additionally he refers to "on one occasion after an overnight stop".
It has been suggested, though there is no substantive evidence, that Bulleid designed this as a prototype for a trial of an overnight sleeper to the west country.

Whatever its true purpose, the coach was obviously very little used and was withdrawn by 1955 then cut up and burnt at Lancing carriage works in 1956.

* Service Stock of the Southern Railway, R.W. Kidner, Oakwood Press.
(There is a good photograph of this coach on p73 of this book)
** Bulleid of the Southern, H.A.V. Bulleid, Ian Allan

All photographs are copyright

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