The standard design in post-War Britain

These standard British Railways coaches were developed when the railways were nationalised in 1948. Coaches were needed to replace those ravaged by the effects of war and had either been damaged beyond repair or received little attention during hostilities.

In addition, the coaches of the individual companies had been built to totally different specifications resulting in operational difficulties with LMS, LNER, GWR, and SR coaches working together. So, the new stock would have to be compatible to work with coaching stock from the old companies whilst being of a standard design.

And so the British Railways Mark 1 coach was born.

Built-in their thousands from 1951 – 1963

Incorporating the best features of each of the former companies’ designs and designed to be much stronger than their predecessors to provide better protection for passengers in the event of a collision or derailment, designs were agreed for long-distance and commuter traffic.

The first standard coaches started rolling off the production lines in 1951. They were built at Derby, Doncaster, Eastleigh, Swindon, Wolverton and York and, with modifications as new ideas and materials were developed, Mark 1s continued to be built until 1963 (although multiple units and non-passenger stock continued to be built until 1974).


If travelling on our services where the train consists of corridor connected coaches, it is highly probable the public will be sitting in one of our Standard Mark 1 Open Coaches.

This type of Mk.1 coach is probably the most used in preservation as it offers comfortable passenger accommodation for families. The seating is arranged in groups of four seats per bay at either side of an open gangway running through the centre of the coach. Access to other coaches is possible through connections at each end, thus allowing access to buffet facilities where provided. During their working lives on British Railways they were primarily used on cross country services.

Six are in use on the KWVR being built between 1956 and 1961 with each seating 64 passengers. At any one time, one or more may be in the Carriage & Wagon Shop at Oxenhope for routine maintenance or overhaul.

Built in 1956 at Doncaster and seating 39 passengers, this coach is the brake-van version of the Tourist Second Open with the same seating arrangement. The brake-van on this coach has a secure luggage area for passengers to use. Prior to purchase by the KWVR, this coach was one of the last of its type to be in regular passenger service, being used on the West Highland line in Scotland.

Numbered 35475, this BSK is the only standard gangway coach with compartments, all others being of an open configuration. Built in 1963 at the former LNWR works in Wolverton, Buckinghamshire and seated, when built, 32 passengers with a large brake van/goods area.

It is believed to have been withdrawn in 1989/90 when in the service of Network South East, the livery it carried when arriving on the KWVR in 2020. The carriage had a chequered history after being withdrawn after being used by Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service at Washington Hall, Chorley, for training in railway incidents. In January 2012, the carriage, in rundown condition, was purchased by the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway, where it was stored until purchased by the KWVR.

It had been acknowledged for some time that one of the serious weaknesses in the carriage fleet had been the lack of a second accessible carriage. In addition, the railway found itself very short of a second BR Mk 1 corridor brake. With this in mind, a BSK suitable to provide a solution to both was sought, the BSK’s large luggage space readily convertible into an attractive, spacious wheelchair-accessible compartment. No. 34575 was surplus to requirements at Embsay and, with funds provided by the KWVR Trust and COVID-related grants, was purchased in 2020 for conversion to an accessible coach.

The four existing compartments will be restored, and a section of the luggage area will be converted to give the Railway a second accessible coach. The photograph below shows the coach after arrival, body repairs started, and sections removed as part of its conversion.

A seventh open coach numbered W1013, and the oldest Mark 1 in preservation, was rebuilt as a Restaurant Car to run paired with a Kitchen Car for dining passengers. These restaurant cars had 16 tables and seating for 48 diners on loose chairs. In 1973, it was withdrawn from service and converted for use as a training vehicle for catering staff and based at Marylebone station. By 1985, it had fallen out of use and was sent to York where the KWVR purchased it.

The coach had been badly vandalised, with all internal fittings missing and most of the windows broken. The coach was fitted with seating and tables from a Tourist Second Open coach due to the supplies of the original tables and chairs being unobtainable. It now offers seating for 62 guests when operating within a dining train or special event or when used on service trains.

Built in Birmingham in 1956, coach no. E4304, our eighth TSO, was withdrawn by British Rail at York in 1978 and sold to Mansfield Brewery, who opened a pub and restaurant at the old Scholes station near Leeds. The coach was originally intended to be put onto the old trackbed adjacent to the station building. Due to the road bridge over the old trackbed being too weak to do this safely, a large pit was dug adjacent to the building and the coach lowered in complete with its bogies and wheel-sets.

A mock railway canopy was built over the coach’s roof and served as the pub’s restaurant for almost 20 years. When the brewery decided to extend its restaurant business, the coach became surplus to requirements, and it was offered free of charge to the KWVR in 1988 on the condition that the Railway paid for its removal.

On the KWVR, the coach received a major overhaul to its body, bogies and interior. It was during this overhaul that it was decided to convert the coach to a new buffet car with a bar and kitchen area larger than the existing Restaurant Miniature Buffet (RMB) no. E1836, thus enabling a wider range of refreshments to be served.

Our ninth and final TSO, no. E4588 was built in 1956 as a standard Mark 1 Open Corridor coach. It arrived on the Railway with most of its original interior removed. Rather than restoring the coach back to its original condition, the coach was converted into a bar car, painted in mock-Pullman livery to complement the Pullman carriages and fitted with an authentic bar salvaged from a public house in Leeds.

Named ‘The Jubilee Bar’ to commemorate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, the coach can occasionally be seen on service trains on special operating days but is more usually attached to the two Pullman coaches when Pullman dining trains are in operation.

Development of the Open Coach, the Restaurant Miniature Buffet was the response to the increased need to tap into passengers’ changing eating and drinking habits whilst keeping operating costs low. The serving/storage area is situated in the centre of the coach, where light meals, snacks and drinks could be served buffet style.

The Railway has two such vehicles built in 1960. The Railway uses the coach as its mobile buffet and bar, no. E1835 has now been fitted with three real ale hand pumps whilst the storage cupboard has been converted into a mobile beer cellar. Before withdrawal from service by British Railways, E1835 was used on the services from London Liverpool Street to Cambridge and East Anglia.

No. E1824 is a stationary buffet behind the Platform at Oxenhope. Due to its conversion, its ability to be formed into a train has been greatly diminished through the addition of land-based services.

The first kitchen cars built by British Railways in the early 1950s were full kitchen vehicles with no seating accommodation for diners. These vehicles would operate in tandem with one or two restaurant cars. However, such combinations soon proved uneconomic, with vehicles weighing well over 110 tons. Two sittings of over 150 diners had to be served to justify the arrangement, and very few of the services could produce such a level of custom. This led to the development of a range of kitchen cars which consisted of half kitchen and half dining vehicles – a much more flexible arrangement. No. E1963 was one of the later batches, built in 1960 and weighing 39tons. Its unclassified status meant that its 29 seats could be used for first- or second-class diners.

It was withdrawn from service in 1981 and converted for use by British Rail’s Derby Research Centre as ‘Laboratory Test Car No. 11’ and barrier coach for the Advanced Passenger Train between test locations. With the abandonment of the Advanced Passenger Train project, the former kitchen car was put up for sale in 1987 and bought by the KWVR.

Much work was involved in refurbishing the vehicle. Air brakes were replaced by the original vacuum brake system and electric heating with steam heating. Gas cooking and supply, wiring, power generation, water heating, and refrigeration were all replaced and updated to modern standards. Nevertheless, the overall layout and character of the kitchen area have been retained.

Conversion of the former dining area into an extended food preparation area means that the coach is a full kitchen vehicle, fulfilling the function of its early 1950s predecessors. It was used in combination with Restaurant Car No. W1013 and the Pullman Cars on the Railways highly acclaimed White Rose Evening Dining Trains and on selected Sundays when Luncheon Trains are operating. However, modern hygiene standards are demanding, and the coach was withdrawn, needing upgrading and much work on the bodywork and running gear. It is now laid aside and has an uncertain future on the Railway, especially now that ‘land-based’ catering facilities are available at Keighley.