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Up the Bulleid!

"Up the Bulleid!” is a well-known catchphrase from one particular volunteer at the railway that seems fitting as a title for the blog. After a few months of promises, I can report significant progress on the Bulleid coach front!

As the work on MK1 4910 has wound down for us, so the work has wound up on Bulleid Open Third 1456. Gordon and I are getting really stuck into the framework, Gordon has been busy with the spindle moulder making lots of the curved uprights, while I've been working on the big longitudinal top and bottom timbers (I'm not complaining, but at the end of the day, my back is...).

Discounting the two ends, we are getting close to having a quarter of the carriage frame ready to go back in. It's now been several months since we propped the roof up at the London end of the carriage and removed the rotten framework. The replacement of the metalwork on top of the underframe also stalled, but it's all go now. The timbers have all been machined, and we are in the process of putting in all the joints, of which there are quite a few!

One of the ways in which this carriage very much differs from the previous Bulleid carriage (Brake third 4211, on which you can travel now!) is in the top rail of the frame. While 4211 was built under contract in Birmingham, 1456 was built in house by the Southern Railway at Eastleigh. On Birmingham’s 4211, the roof had a bottom rail of roughly two and a half inches square that married up to the two and a half inch wide top rail of the side frames. On 1456 this is all one big piece of timber, and boy is it a whopper!! Solid sapele (think mahogany) two and a half inches wide by five and a half deep, the length is made up by four timbers spliced together. The carriage is sixty four feet long, so you do the maths - BIG!

I've been cutting the splice joints, then marking out and cutting the mortises ready for the curved uprights to fit into. Of course to make it that bit more interesting, these mortises aren't straight. I've had to mount these massive bits of timber in our mortise machine on an angle, great fun! (and yes, my back complained even more...)

Once everything was marked out, we took the opportunity to lay out the first section of framework. This was simply so we'd be able to see if we'd made any glaring errors before we started cutting joints - on such long bits of timber it's easy to get lost - but it was all spot on (measure twice before cutting once...and thrice isn’t bad idea either). A nice byproduct of this was that we were able to take a photo of the framework laid out for you to see! It’s really satisfying to see this sort of progress, and hopefully at the gala in just under a month you will see even more.

On the MK 1, we’ve finished off inside with a last lick of varnish, while Ollie is putting on the final top coat of maroon as I write this. It really is looking superb, and shouldn’t be too long till you can have a ride in it.

Till next time, up the Bulleid!


The HLF supported Canadian Pacific project includes the restoration of Bulleid coaches 1456 and 4367.  We are currently requesting help with funding the overhaul of Canadian Pacific, by sponsoring a stay or stays, which come with a number of incentives.  Click here to sponsor a stay!  Alternatively, you can download and print the form at the bottom of this page.  We are also still accepting other donations for the project, so please click here to do so.  Finally, to sign up to our newsletter, please click here.

Finally, to find out more about the Canadian Pacific project, check out our new website at www.watercressline.co.uk/canpac.  Thanks for reading!

Photo gallery

  • Curved uprights for Bulleid 1456

  • This is the metal outrigger showing the cutout for the south side middle door

  • The new south side bottom rail alongside the coach

  • Two of the four new top rails for the south side, showing the splice joints

  • The first mortice going in

  • In the morticer, on the angle

  • The frame laid out! A great feeling to see this

  • MK1 4910, first gloss flatted out

  • Second and final gloss going on

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