Inspection Saloons

Transport for the railway executives

The old railway companies often built quite luxurious saloons in which the chief officers of the company could travel around and inspect the railway system.

From the Director to Locomotive Superintendent, a saloon for all

Two vehicles used for this purpose have been privately purchased and based on the KWVR. Both these examples were produced during the Victorian era.


North Eastern Clerestory Inspection Saloon, no. 21661

This coach was built for party travel in 1871 by the Stockton & Darlington Railway as a six wheeled 3rd class saloon with clerestory roof. After being taken into North Eastern Railway stock in 1876 and numbered 1661, it was converted to an inspection saloon for the use of the Locomotive Superintendent at Gateshead Locomotive Works. It was normally hauled by the locomotive “Aerolite” (this locomotive has also been preserved and can be seen at the National Railway Museum.)

In 1904 the coach was lengthened by 10 feet at the kitchen end and placed on a new bogie frame. The main saloon seats 15 passengers, mostly on individual chairs, with an adjoining small attendants / kitchen compartment.

The coach was withdrawn from traffic in 1969 and was purchased for preservation by Society member, John Dawson. The coach found fame as the ‘Old Gentleman’s’ carriage in the 1970 EMI feature film ‘The Railway Children’ In the 1990s ownership of the coach passed to Chris Lawson who paid for the carriage to be externally restored to its LNER condition by British Rail Engineering Ltd at York.

During the following years the coach, due to its age, was used sparingly on the KWVR, being used mainly for private parties and on vintage train days when, occasionally, cream teas were served.

Latterly the coach has been reunited with story of the ‘The Railway Children’, taking on its role as the ‘Old Gentleman’s’ carriage to both the Waterloo Station and Kings Cross productions of the story in London.

Unfortunately travelling by road by low loader took its toll on the wooden construction of this venerable vehicle, such that the beams that form the main structural base of it became bent and warped. As a result of this, coupled with damage to the headstock, the vehicle became unusable and had to be retired to the sheds at Oxenhope to await its fate. The extent of the work required was beyond the capacity of our own carriage department, who work tirelessly on the operational fleet, so owner Chris Lawson, wanting to see this historic vehicle at work on the Railway, sent the carriage to specialist restorers, Nemesis Rail at Burton-on-Trent.

In early 2017 the Railway signed a 50 year lease for the coach which will keep the coach on the KWVR for both the Railway’s 50th Anniversary in 2018 and its 100th.

On the 16th February, 21661, took on a role that it has performed on at least one occasion before, when Royal duties beckoned once again, taking the Duchess of Cornwall from Haworth to Oxenhope, as part of the Duchess’ tour of Yorkshire visiting the Bronté Parsonage, as part of its 200 year celebration and meeting volunteers on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway in recognition of our 50th Anniversary of operating the Worth Valley line.

Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Inspection Saloon

Unlike the North Eastern Clerestory Inspection Saloon, this coach started and finished its life as an inspection saloon. The coach, however, did have a similar history in that it started life as a six wheeled Inspection Saloon and in 1908 it was converted to a 2 x 4 wheeled bogie saloon.

The coach was originally numbered No. 1 for use by the directors of the company. In 1908, however, the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway built a larger Directors’ saloon, which became No. 1, whilst the example here on the KWVR became No. 2 for use by engineers. The coach stayed in use in the Lancashire area until 1948 when it was transferred to Scotland, being based at Inverness until withdrawal in 1965.

The saloon was purchased privately in a rundown condition and restoration has been ongoing by owner since arriving on the KWVR. With wooden wheel centres the saloon is unlikely to be used on the KWVR.