Some notes on Bristol Division GWR B-sets

by Tim Venton

with some additional model pics courtesy of Mike Garwood and set numbering courtesy of John Lewis and Mike South

 

Bodmin Branch No 2 B-set diagram E140 entering Wadebridge behind a 45xx small prairie

In the early 1950s, a 45xx small Prairie drifts into Wadebridge with Bodmin Branch No 2 set with a service from Bodmin General. The coaches (6977 + 6778) are diagram E140 and are still in their last GWR livery. Photo extract courtesy of Rail-Online.

 

GWR E147 B-set coach in BR(W) crimson livery

Mike Garwood's E147 in BR(W) plain crimson, prior to adding the 'I' numeral for the 1st class compartment, and based on an RCTS photograph. The numbering should perhaps however be below the waist line. The model is based on a Comet kit, but greatly enhanced by using an MJT roof section 2971L on new home-sourced etched ends. (The section supplied in Comet kits is not a good elliptical GWR contour.) Details of the build can be found on his Scalefour Forum thread.

 

Prototype notes

pictures from Tim Venton's collection:


GWR Diagram E145 B-set
Diagram E145



Centre coupling E129
Diagram E129 centre coupling from above


Centre coupling E129 from below
Diagram E129 centre coupling (at Oxford, 21 February 1951)




Diagram E147 centre coupling, coaches No W6907W + W6908W
note the safety chains

The B-set coaches of the Great Western Railway in the Bristol Division area were non-corridor brake composite coaches arranged in pairs, with the brake compartments outermost, for suburban and branch line working.

The first type, lot 1327 diagram E116, was ordered at the end of November 1922 and comprised 7 pairs: 7169-72, 7510/1,74-9, 7625/6, which were completed in August 1924. Like all the others there was one first class compartment, in this case at the inner end, and six third class. Diagram E116 was 57'0" x 9'3", had flat ends, and no inner-end buffers. The inner ends were connected by a fixed link. The style of this link was probably a tommy-bar, similar to those fitted on the contemporary bow-ended D87/E124 close-coupled suburban sets, but without the buffing plate boxes used on those bow-ended vehicles. Bogies were of the 9' 'fishbelly' type. All were allocated to the Bristol division, and the brake ends branded "Bristol Division No.1" to "Bristol Division No.7". They lasted in service until 1962. A 4mm model was available from K's, but needed a lot of work to bring up to a reasonable level. It is possible to find these kits second-hand if lucky.

The next type to appear 18 months later incorporated several variations. Lot 1355 diagram E129. It was a foot longer (at 58'2"), with bow ends and also ran on 9' fishbelly bogies. Five pairs were produced, numbers were 6545/7, 6551/3/6/60/1/3/5/6. All were allocated to the Bristol division. The coupling between the coaches was a channel section over a forged solid link similar to that used on Southern Region electric units. The first class compartment was moved from the inner bogie end to the fifth, leaving one third-class compartment between that and the brake. A kit for these coaches is available from Comet.

March 1929 saw the completion of the next batch of four coaches under lot 1393, diagram E135, numbers 6640/1, 2/3. They were basically similar to the E129, but slightly narrower (8'10" width), and mounted on 7' bogies. They were allocated to the Bristol division, although 6640/1 were photographed at Kingsbridge in 1946 (see table below). As with later diagrams, inner end buffers were fitted, of approximately 1'2" long.

The largest group, diagram E140, appeared in April 1930 under lot 1407, numbered 6445-57/9-65. These were longer at 61'2", 9'3" wide. They had recessed door handles, and straight practically flat grab handles (instead of the curly 'G' handles). 7' bogies were fitted. All were built for the Bristol division. A further 40 for general traffic were constructed under lot 1445 later in the year and in the following May a further 22 were built under lot 1455, numbered 6240/1, 6261/2, 6365/6, 6371/2, 6374/5, 6656/7, 6968/9, 6975/6, 6977/8, 6983/4, 6989/90. 41 pairs were produced in all. The last were allocated to the Bristol division. This is the coach produced by Airfix, then Dapol and now Hornby. Sample brandings are given in the table below.

A further 50 diagram E145 coaches were produced in February 1933 under lot 1479. With a similar style body to diagram E140, they were mounted on 9' heavy bogies and given random numbers in the in the 60, 61, 62 and 63xx series. Although built for local services, several appeared in the Bristol area.

Diagrams E140 and E145 had recessed guard's doors.

The last style appeared at the end of 1933, and was diagram E147. These had flat ends, 9' light pressed steel bogies, 57'0" x 9', with unrecessed door handles. The close-coupling arrangement reverted to the style of the E116, with a slotted tommy-bar, but safety chains were also fitted. Four further batches appeared up to October 1936, lots 1393, 1505, 1523 and 1550 producing a total of 116 coaches. Some of the last lot ran as loose coaches in longer trains, and were presumably fitted with standard length (1'10½") buffers at their non-brake ends. Numbers were again random in the 67, 68 and 69xx series. They were distributed more widely around the system with many in South Wales. Approximately 52 pairs were produced in all, with another 10 or so running as 'singles'. A kit is available from Comet.

Thirty more non-corridor brake composites were built in 1952-4 to diagram E167. These were 63'0" x 8'11", 9' light-duty pressed steel bogies. All were fitted with conventional drawgear and normal 1'10½" buffers at both ends, and worked mostly as strengthening 'singles', but some worked as pairs, so perhaps can legitmately be regarded as a 2-coach 'B-set'. Details are included in the table below.

The style of the branding was white letters (about 3" high) at cantrail level on the outer ends of the sets.

For set and running numbers, including those vehicles running outside of the Bristol division, see the table below.



Llangollen Railways 'B-set'
The Llangollen Railway's "B-set"

No B-sets have been preserved, but a flavour of them is on the Llangollen Railway who have a couple of non-corridor coaches billed as a "B-set".

B-set model notes and drawings

sketch of B-set underframe details

regulator box drawing

items to be cut off the inner end

additional details on the brake end

guards door additional details

destination board details

In this discussion, the brake compartment is treated as being on the right.

Details of the undersides of coaches are hard to come by, so I thought some sketches I made might be useful. From my researches of diagram E140/E145 coaches, I found that as modelled the Airfix underframe is quite wrong. There are 2 large battery boxes on the nearside, with a regulator box on the far side. Castings from ABS are available for the large battery boxes, but I used some rather nice etched brass components from Frogmore Confederacy. For those without access to their kits, a drawing is shown of the regulator box. The basic underframe I used is from a Comet kit. It is possible to retain the original plastic underframe, but removing the incorrect battery box does make a mess of the truss rodding. Some dimensions from my notes; battery boxes are 8" and dynamos are 1'4" from rail level. In plan view dynamos are 1', vacuum cylinders are 6" and battery boxes are 1'3" from the edge of the chassis. The pulley on the dynamo is 1'6", and the steam heat pipe is 4-5" diameter.

The Airfix bodies are wrong. The door handles should be recessed and not raised as in the model. This is correctable after considerable work. The buffer beams should be straight, and not bowed. There should not be a window by the guard's door on the far side. As supplied it has an extra first class compartment branding, the correct compartment can be easily seen with the extra width of compartment.

I have scanned in some drawings from an article in the Model Railway Constructor September 1980, by R D Naylor. He does not give the source of these details, but they do seem to accord with photos I have seen.

The inner ends have acquired some extra detail that should be removed (sketch attached). Some extra handrails need to be put around the guards doors, and on the ends. This drawing is in 2 halves, the "a" side is apparently the earlier period, and the "b" side later BR period. Destination board holders are shown.

The bogies as supplied are very 'thin' on detail, and really need replacing. I have replaced a lot of the 7' bogies with 9' ready to run plastic bogies, from Bachmann and Dapol. They run very well. Branchlines nickel-silver wheels run very true, and give a satisfying sound over the rail joints.

Buffers are a definite replacement on the plastic underframe. Sprung GWR pattern buffers are hard to come by, the MJT ones suffer from springs that are too strong. I have had a go with the John Hayes ideas on springing buffers in his wagon articles.

 

GWR E147 B-set

The inner end of Mike Garwood's E147, showing the 'shortie' buffer stocks. For these, Mike used two types of brass rod – one with an outside diameter of 2mm and an inside dia of 1mm, the second to be 1mm outside diamenter and 0.5mm inside diameter. The correct sized sprung heads can be obtained from MJT. Mike did a small etch for the back of the buffers to include the 4 bolt heads. The length of these shortie buffers is approximately 1'2". Further pictures of Mike's E147 can be found here.

 

GWR 2-coach B-set running numbers and set details

The table below, compiled from information by John Lewis and Mike South, gives known pairings of branded and unbranded B-sets, and includes coaches running as 'singles' with buffers of conventional length at the non-brake end. The table includes those vehicles built in the BR era. Inevitably, there are many unknown allocation gaps, e.g. for 'Llanfyllin, Llanymynech and Oswestry Branch No.1' and 'Llanfyllin, Llanymynech and Oswestry Branch No.2'.

Dia. Lot Coach
numbers
     
Set  branding                Notes
E116 1327 7169 + 7170 Bristol Division No.1
E116 1327 7171 + 7172 Bristol Division No.2
E116 1327 7510 + 7511 Bristol Division No.3
E116 1327 7574 + 7575 Bristol Division No.4
E116 1327 7576 + 7577 Bristol Division No.5
E116 1327 7578 + 7579 Bristol Division No.6
E116 1327 7625 + 7626 Bristol Division No.7
E129 1355 6545 + 6547 Bristol Division No.8
E129 1355 6551 + 6553 Bristol Division No.9
E129 1355 6556 + 6560 Bristol Division No.10
E129 1355 6561 + 6563 Bristol Division No.11
E129 1355 6565 + 6566 Bristol Division No.12
E135 1393 6640 + 6641 Bristol Division No.13
(until November 1935)
Looe Branch No.1
(after November 1935)
Liskeard and Looe No.1
(early 1950s)
pictured at Kingsbridge, 1946, and worked the Kingsbridge branch, with unknown branding, between May 1955 and late Autumn 1961
E135 1393 6642 + 6643 Bristol Division No.14
(until November 1935)
Looe Branch No.2
(after November 1935)
Liskeard and Looe No.2
(early 1950s)
E140 1407 6445 + 6446 Helston No.1
E140 1407 6447 + 6448 Bristol Division No.16
E140 1407 6449 + 6450 Bristol Division No.17
E140 1407 6451 + 6452 Bristol Division No.18
E140 1407 6453 + 6454 Bristol Division No.19
Kingsbridge Branch No.2
(from 5 June 1936)
Launceston No.1
(from c May 1956)
condemned 21 Feb 1959
E140 1407 6455 + 6456 Bristol Division No.20
E140 1407 6457 + 6459
E140 1407 6460 + 6461 St. Ives No.2 6460 has 6969 added c May 1955 and becomes Launceston No.2, at the same time 6461 has 6464 added and becomes Helston No.2
E140 1407 6460 + 6969 Launceston No.2 formed c May 1956 (6460 was previously half of (with 6461) St. Ives No.2; 6469 was previously half of (with 6468) Kingsbridge Branch No.1 and before 30 August 1936 was half of (with 6468) Bristol Division No.25
E140 1407 6461 + 6464 Helston No.2 formed circa May 1955; 6461 was previously half of (with 6460) St. Ives No.2; 6464 was previously half of (with 6465) ???
E140 1407 6462 + 6463 St. Ives No.1
E140 1407 6464 + 6465 6464 has 6961 added c May 1955 and becomes Helston No.2 (6465's role is unknown after May 1956)
E140 1445 6381 + 6382
E140 1445 6409 + 6410
E140 1445 6411 + 6412 Cardiff Division No.40 transferred c May 1955 to Newquay or Par
E140 1445 6413 + 6414 Cardiff Division No.41 transferred to Newquay or Par in May 1955
E140 1445 6470 + 6471
E140 1445 6523 + 6524
E140 1445 6534 + 6555 Bristol Division No.49
E140 1445 6537 + 6538
E140 1445 6541 + 6542
E140 1445 6548 + 6549 Bristol Division No.48
E140 1445 6554 + 6555
E140 1445 6557 + 6558
E140 1445 6589 + 6590
E140 1445 6703 + 6704
E140 1445 6722 + 6723
E140 1445 6894 + 6895 Leamington, Stratford & Worcester No.2 later
Kingham Branch: Cheltenham to Kingham via Andoversford
E140 1445 6979 + 6980
E140 1445 6986 + 6987
E140 1445 6995 + 6996
E140 1445 6999 + 7000
E140 1455 6240 + 6241 Taunton No.5
E140 1455 6261 + 6262
E140 1455 6365 + 6366
E140 1455 6371 + 6372
E140 1455 6374 + 6375
E140 1455 6656 + 6657
E140 1455 6968 + 6969 Bristol Division No.25
on 30 August 1936 became
Kingsbridge Branch No.1
6969 has 6460 added c May 1956 and becomes Launceston No.2 (condemned on 12 Dec 1959)
E140 1455 6468 may have run as a 'single' post May 1956
E140 1455 6975 + 6976 Bodmin No.1 (early 1950s)
E140 1455 6977 + 6778 Bodmin No.2 (early 1950s)
E140 1455 6983 + 6984 Cardiff Division No.49
E140 1455 6989 + 6990
E145 1479 6061 + 6075 Newquay Branch No.1 (early 1950s)
E145 1479 6122 + 6123 Newquay Branch No.2 (early 1950s)
E145 1479 6159 + 6161 Newquay Branch No.3 (early 1950s)
E145 1479 6168 + 6175 Truro No.3
later
Truro No.4
E145 1479 6180 + 6186 Bristol Division No.29
E145 1479 6188 + 6191 Bristol Division No.30
E145 1479 6193 + 6199 Bristol Division No.27
E145 1479 6200 + 6202 Bristol Division No.26
E145 1479 6204 + 6215 Bristol Division No.23
E145 1479 6216 + 6217 Bristol Division No.22
E145 1479 6219 + 6220 Bristol Division No.28
E145 1479 6221 + 6222 Bristol Division No.31
E145 1479 6224 + 6225 Bristol Division No.32
E145 1479 6228 + 6229 Bristol Division No.33
E145 1479 6232 + 6234
E145 1479 6238 + 6239
E145 1479 6246 + 6251
E145 1479 6253 + 6254 Bristol Division No.34
E145 1479 6257 + 6263 Bristol Division No.35
E145 1479 6268 + 6297
E145 1479 6316 + 6335 Kingsbridge Branch No.1
until 27 August 1936, when it became
Bristol Division No.25
E145 1479 6338 + 6348 Kingsbridge Branch No.2
until 5 June 1936, when it became
Bristol Division No.19
E145 1479 6359 + 6361
E145 1479 6363 + 6367 Bristol Division No.21
E145 1479 6368 + 6373 Bristol Division No.36
E147 1494 6762 + 6763 Bristol Division No.15
E147 1494 6764 + 6765 Bristol Division No.24
E147 1494 6769 + 6770
E147 1494 6771 + 6772
E147 1494 6773 + 6774
E147 1494 6776 + 6777
E147 1494 6778 + 6779
E147 1494 6781 + 6782
E147 1494 6783 + 6784
E147 1494 6785 + 6786 Llanelly No.4
E147 1494 6787 + 6788
E147 1494 6789 + 6790
E147 1494 6791 + 6792
E147 1494 6793 + 6794
E147 1494 6796 + 6797
E147 1494 6800 + 6801
E147 1505 6873 + 6874
E147 1505 6875 + 6876
E147 1505 6878 + 6879
E147 1505 6880 + 6881
E147 1505 6882 + 6883
E147 1505 6884 + 6885
E147 1505 6887 + 6888
E147 1505 6889 + 6890 Newquay Branch No.4 (early 1950s)
E147 1505 6891 + 6893 Newquay Branch No.5 (early 1950s)
E147 1505 6896 + 6897 Truro No.4
later
Truro No.1
E147 1505 6898 + 6899 Bristol Division No.37
E147 1505 6900 + 6901 Bristol Division No.38
E147 1505 6902 + 6903 Bristol Division No.39 transferred c May 1955 to Newquay or Par
E147 1505 6904 + 6906 Looe Branch No.1
(before November 1935)
Bristol Division No.13
(after November 1935
E147 1505 6907 + 6908 Looe Branch No.2
(before November 1935)
Bristol Division No.14
(after November 1935)
E147 1523 6803 + 6805
E147 1523 6806 + 6807
E147 1523 6808 + 6809
E147 1523 6810 + 6811
E147 1523 6812 + 6813
E147 1523 6814 + 6815
E147 1523 6816 + 6817
E147 1523 6819 + 6821
E147 1550 6707 – 11, 15/25/6 running as 'singles' with conventional buffers
E147 1550 6727 + 6729 Bristol Division No.40
E147 1550 6730 + 6732 Bristol Division No.41 on Yatton – Cheddar Valley services in 1959
E147 1550 6736 + 6738 Bristol Division No.42
E147 1550 6740/1/3/5 – 9, 51/3 running as 'singles' with conventional buffers
E147 1550 6755 + 6756 Truro No.1
later
Truro No.3
E147 1550 6757 + 6759 Truro No.2
E147 1550 6760/7/98/99 running as 'singles' with conventional buffers
E147 1550 6818 converted to independent auto-coach (as diagram A32)
E147 1550 6820 converted to independent auto-coach (as diagram A32)
E147 1550 6822 + 6823 Bristol Division No.43
E147 1550 6827 running as 'single' with conventional buffers
E167 1750 7081 – 90 running as 'singles' with conventional buffers
E167 1755 7386 – 97 running as 'singles' with conventional buffers
E167 1777 6276 + 6277 conventional buffers, worked as unbranded pair on Ashburton branch up to November 1958
E167 1777 6278 + 6279 Plymouth District No.2 conventional buffers, worked as unbranded pair and singles on Kingsbridge branch between May 1955 and late Autumn 1961
E167 1777 6280 + 6281 conventional buffers
E167 1777 6282 + 6283 conventional buffers
E167 1777 6284 + 6285 conventional buffers, 6284 known to have worked as unbranded single on Kingsbridge branch between May 1955 and late Autumn 1961

 

Further reading:

– Great Western Coaches 1890 – 1954, by Michael Harris
– Great Western Coaches Appendix Volume One – Standard Passenger Stock, by J.H. Russell
– Great Western Railway Journal, Late Summer 1992 'Special Cornish Issue', "B Sets In Cornwall" by John Lewis
– Great Western Railway Journal No.4 Autumn 1992, "Cornish Matters" by I.E. Herbert
– Model Railway Constructor, April 1946, "Great Western Railway 60ft. Branch Line Stock" by Mike Longridge (E140 & E145 scale drawings and photos)
– Model Railway Constructor, January 1964, "Plans Page - GWR Non-Corridor Brake Composites" (E147 & E167 scale drawings and photos)
– A Pictorial Record of Great Western Coaches including the Brown Vehicles – Part II (1903 – 1948), by J.H. Russell
– Railway Bylines, (Irwell Press), March 2003, "The Kingsbridge Branch" by I.C. Coleford

 

close-coupling details clarified February 2017
set and running numbers added August 2017