The Great Western built several saloons in the 20th century for three categories of requirements – private hire but attached to normal service trains; saloons for railway officials for use on line inspections and saloons for luxury services or royalty.
The Severn Valley has three such saloons and with the completion of 9103 they can now be used together.
All saloons were numbered in the 90xx or 91xx series. We have 9055 to diagram G43 dating from 1912, 9369 from diagram G56 one of 3 saloons 9369-9371 ordered in 1914 but not completed until 1923 and finally 9103 from lot G58 one of 10 saloons built in March to April 1929.
GWR ‘Nondescript’ saloons 9101 to 9110
These saloons were built for private hire as a first or third class vehicle and were therefore officially unclassified. They are 58ft 4½in long by 9ft 0in wide. They had Collett 7ft lightweight bogies. Upholstery was dark brown moquette which was the standard for first class in the period. The interior is finished in the standard bow-ended style for the period of varnished mahogany. The metalwork is copper lacquered brass.
The interior consisted of a lavatory, a small Guard’s brake compartment, an ordinary compartment, two saloons with bench seats around and folding table and another lavatory. This gave 16 seats in each saloon 40 seats in total.
The small Guard’s compartment was needed to allow the carriage to be attached and detached at any station and to be parked.
The corridor had the distinctive herringbone ‘scumbled’ tongue and groove panelling.
The short wheelbase bogies provide a different clickity-click for those that can still remember jointed track!
When the bow-ended coaches began to be built the livery was a fully lined out panelling as on 3930 and 9055 but from 1928 the GW experimented with simplified liveries using firstly a single black line only. This was seen as too simple and was replaced with a double waist line and a black line at the top. Express vehicles and saloons were returned to double lining from 1930 with the words SALOON on the side between the two lines. It is this 1930 livery which 9103 now carries.
The Saloons in Traffic
The saloons were allocated around the territory of the Great Western namely London, Plymouth, Gloucester, Newport, Cardiff, Swansea, Bristol and Chester.
They were frequently in use attached as the brakes to Excursion sets possibly starting with lots 1411 and 1412 of 1929.
In the 1950s they were popular on railway society specials in the Gloucester, Bristol and Worcester areas. They were also used as Brakes on early Mark 1 excursion sets and fitted with gangway adaptors for this use. Examples are the SLS Severn and Wye tour and the Centenary special from Ross to Pontypool Road via Monmouth on 12th October 1957.
9103 was allocated to Plymouth for most of its time and was also involved in a fire at Fratton in 1950. When it was withdrawn in September 1961 it was again overhauled to take part in the Westwood Television Train behind City of Truro. This went on a month long tour of the West Country to introduce Commercial Television to the Devonians and the Cornish. The interior was painted blue with lots of cables for televisions sets.
After the finish of the Television train it was converted into an office and stationed at Danygraig as department 079124.
It was purchased from Danygraig by the late Phil James in 1971 and moved to the SVR on 29/1/72.
Phil carried out a lot of the early work on 9103 installing the missing corridor wall and the ceilings.
It was then bought by Mick Haynes who continued the restoration over a long period – 30 years working with only a small team.
The restoration has been very extensive and the team has learnt as it went along.
Today you can enjoy the results of all that work.