© BloodandCustard

Passenger Carrying Coaches

Okehampton Car Carrier

(1960 – 1964)

 

Loading eight Car-Carriers (GUV vehicles) at Okehampton’s ‘military sidings’ with the three passenger coaches beyond on Saturday, 30th August 1964. The locomotive appears to be an air-smoothed Bulleid light pacific.

Whilst neither the train engine or the numbers of the GUV vehicles are known, the train’s passengers are probably seated in coaches Mk1 SO 4683, Bulleid RS 7881 or BSK 2329.

© J. Holland (Glen Woods collection /Irwell Press)

 

 

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Car Carrying Services

The first service to convey both motor cars and their driver /passengers on the same train commenced in 1955 operating between London and Perth; this Car-Sleeper service being operated by British Railways’ Eastern Region. In 1958 this was joined by the Continental Car Sleeper train from Manchester to Boulogne operating across Southern Region metals via Dover.

 

 

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Car Tourist Service
London to Exeter & Barnstaple

Prior to the Okehampton Car Carrier, a Monday to Friday service from London to Exeter and Barnstaple had been offered with motorists leaving their motor car at Nine Elms Depot (thence train from Vauxhall in order to catch one of several designated Waterloo – Exeter /Barnstaple services). Loaded /unloaded by railway staff, passenger’s motor cars could be picked up from Exeter Central the next day (Tues – Sat) after 9.0 a.m at Exeter or 10.15 a.m. at Barnstaple Junction.

 

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© Roger Merry-Price collection

1959 was the last year of the Car Tourist Service from London to Exeter & Barnstaple.

 

 

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Surbiton to Okehampton
Car Carrier service

The daytime Surbiton to Okehampton Car Carrier service came about following a Southern Region managerial request for service improvements. The (then) Okehampton shed foreman, Arthur Westlake submitted the idea for a car-carrying service with passengers accompanying their cars on the same train; this plan included the efficient working of stock. Management adopted the plan with Arthur Westlake being paid two guineas for his idea.

 

Okehampton Military Sidings 1918

The Okehampton Car Carrying train utilised the former Military sidings off Tors Road (seen here in 1918 military use during the Great War).

© Glen Woods collection /Bluebell Railway

 

Accordingly, the Okehampton Car Carrier service was introduced by British Railways on 18th June 1960 with the first train being hauled from Surbiton to Exeter by rebuilt Merchant Navy 35029 ‘Ellerman Lines’ with West Country 34023 ‘Blackmore Vale’ undertaking the return section to /from Okehampton. The passenger rolling stock was Green-liveried BR standard Mk 1 3-Cor set 564 (BSK + CK + BSK) attached to the rear of seven lined-maroon GUV vehicles.

Down Direction

Running Saturdays-only June to September, the summer 1960 timetable shews the Down train leaving Surbiton at 8.03 a.m. arriving at Okehampton 12.28 pm with the three passenger coaches placed at the rear of the train behind the GUV vehicles.

The fare for a driver and car was £20 (plus £4 13s for additional adult passengers). Packed lunches were available at Surbiton.

Examples of packed meals in a carrier bag.

2s 6d.

Sausage Roll
Cheese Sandwich
Munchmellow
Jolyroll (Individual Swiss Roll)
Fruit

3s. 6d.

Ham roll, hard-boiled egg,
buttered roll and cheese,
tomato, packet of biscuits,
bar of chocolate.

 

At Surbiton, motor cars were end-loaded via the carriage dock in the Down (coal) yard with passengers (including motorists) boarding the passenger section of the train in one of the adjacent sidings (steps provided). The train engine then attached the vans in front of the coaches and the complete train departed for Okehampton where the train was similarly divided and shunted into the ‘military sidings’ located off Tors Road (Up side to the south-west of Okehampton station) for unloading /loading; motor cars being driven forwards off and onto the train’s GUV vehicles.

These end-door equipped GUV vehicles were equipped with plates to bridge the gap between each and onto the end-loading ramp. The first motor car loaded would be driven the length of the GUV vehicles to become first off at the train’s destination; last on would be last off. 

Up Direction

The return Up working left Okehampton at 3.55 p.m. reaching Surbiton at 8.11 p.m. (with the GUV vehicles at the rear of the train) although with shunting across to the Down side and the subsequent unloading, motorists could not expect a rapid ‘getaway’ – particularly those who were last to be loaded at Okehampton.

Having disembarked onto an up-side station platform at Surbiton, it was not unknown for some motor-car passengers to make their way home by public transport and put the kettle on in anticipation of their motor-car driver’s arrival with their vehicle!

 

A train travels down the tracks

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On Saturday 30th August 1964 and having drawn forward on the Up Line around the curve towards Okehampton station, the light pacific train engine and the three passenger coaches are about to set back to couple onto the GUV vehicles (their intermediate doors having been closed).

However, the open end-doors suggest the arrival of at least one more motor car is awaited although departure is now imminent.

Following its departure, only two more Okehampton Car Carrying trains would ever run.

On the Down line the 11.15 a.m. Waterloo to Padstow departs from the station stop where the train divided into the 3.39 p.m. to Plymouth (front portion) & 3.55 p.m. to Padstow.

© Glen Woods collection /Bluebell Railway

 

Following the 1962 Transport Act, disbandment of the British Transport Commission and Dr Beeching’s drive bring the railways back into profitability through his 1963 report ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’, there was an imperative to identify and develop profitable traffics with loss-making or only marginally profitable to either be reorganised with realistic pricing else withdrawn. Certainly, the Okehampton Car Carrier service was labour-intensive, its stock-utilisation low and was unlikely to fit in with plans for the ‘modern’ railway’s nationwide car-carrying services.

Accordingly, the last Surbiton to Okehampton Car Carrier service ran on 12th September 1964.

Offering services from 1965 from Kensington Olympia to St. Austell & Penzance (along with many other destinations across England & Scotland), British Rail’s Car Carrying Service (shortly to be branded ‘Motorail’) was now seen to be the way forward.

 

 

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Motorail

BR’s 1965 Car Carrying Service advertised:
Go the day before and spend the night in an hotel. Or go the same night by sleeper.’

The Surbiton to Okehampton Car Carrier service was arguably one of several forerunners of ‘Motorail’ (the name ‘Motorail’ appears to have been in use before it was officially adopted in 1966 when the purpose-built Kensington Olympia terminal was opened).

Initially using GUV vehicles; these were reassigned to parcels & newspaper traffic as ‘Motorail’ replaced them by ‘Carflats’ built from withdrawn Mk1 coach underframes at Swindon. This including WR non-corridor Mk1 vehicles some of which had been introduced by the SR for its Exmouth branch services). However, the GUV vehicles did reappear in later years in part because their covered nature protected motor cars from damage and vandalism (particularly sone-throwing) en-route.

 

Vauxhall Victor being loaded onto a TCV in 1962 (British Rail)

In 1962 and under the watchful eye of its owners, a Vauxhall Victor is loaded onto a two-tier Anglo-Scottish TCV vehicle at King’s Cross Goods for its journey north.

© British Railways (Glen Woods /Bluebell Railway collection)

 

The Eastern Region had previously built (in 1961) some double-decked car-carrying vans for Anglo-Scottish services; these being coded TCV ‘Tiered Car Van’ under TOPS.

Unfortunately, as the UK motorway network expanded and car performance improved, motoring journey times were shortened. Furthermore, the new High-Speed Train reduced rail journey times and cheaper air flights meant overseas holidays were becoming more affordable. As the economic case for ‘Motorail’ diminished and despite expansion up to and including 1972, route closures commenced from 1975 with the operation started making a loss in 1989 leading to the cessation of services in 1995.

There was a 1996 car-carrying scheme on the London to Penzance ‘Cornish Rivera’ sleeper train. Initially a success, the carriage of cars ceased at summer-end in 2006.

 

 

 

 

A train on the railway tracks

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Although not identified as one on the GUV vehicles used for the car-carrying train, the lined maroon-livery of Pressed Steel-built GUV S86796 is clear when photographed in Clapham Yard on Thursday, 6th August 1959.

© Denis Cullum (Mike King collection)

 

Surbiton - Okehampton
Car Carrier
1960

Stabled at Farnham during the week, the SR Western District CWN for the Summer of 1960 shewed the train initially used seven BR Standard GUV vehicles. Capable of carrying three motor cars each, these had the vehicle end loading capability and were fitted with wheel bars for securing road vehicles. Once loaded the motor cars were held in position by a securing bar across the front and rear wheels of each.

The GUV vehicles were built by Pressed Steel to lot no.30565 /diag. no.811 and (in lined-maroon livery) were delivered to the Southern Region by October 1959; the Southern’s allocation of GUV vehicles being in the number range S86707 to S86834.

Whilst the Summer 1960 Appendix to the CWN shewed only SR-allocated GUV vehicles, none were specifically reserved for the Surbiton - Okehampton car-carrying service. This CWN did not identify any GUV vehicles being loaned to the SR from other regions.

BR standard 3 Cor set 564 had been formed at Eardley on 15th February 1957 and had just been outshopped from an A2 exam at Lancing on 18th May 1960. Although in green livery, records do not shew it as carrying UIC First-class cantrail bands on the CK.

30th July 1960

Due to the increased demand for First-class accommodation, on 30th July 1960 the BR Standard 3 Cor set 564 was replaced by a special formation of S6725S (BCK) + S7616S (FK) + S6731S (BCK) with the luggage compartments of the BCK coaches positioned adjacent to the FK (i.e. ‘reversed’).

Seven GUV vehicles formed the van portion of the train; with no guard’s accommodation in these vans, they were marshalled between the locomotive and three passenger coaches.

3rd September 1960

Coaches had been replaced by S6729S (BCK) + S3064 (FO) + S6736S (BCK).

 

Railway Observer
August 1960

Page 255 ‘West of England Car Carrier – The Saturday car carrier service between Surbiton and Okehampton is being well patronised and loadings are close to its capacity of twenty-one cars, conveyed in seven new GUV vans with standard 3-coach corridor set 564 for passenger accommodation. At Surbiton cars are loaded at the carriage dock in the down yard and motorists board the passenger section in one of the adjacent sidings. The train engine (35029, duty 8, on the inaugural journey of 18th June) then attaches the vans in front of the coaches and the complete train departs from the yard at 8-3 a.m. On the return journey (34050, duty 7, on 18th June) passengers alight at Surbiton station, meanwhile a Guildford Mogul has been attached to the rear of the train to shunt it across to the down yard for unloading; this engine subsequently disposes of the empty stock to Farnham if Surbiton cannot accommodate it’.

 

Railway Observer
October 1960

Page 311 ‘West of England Car Carrier – With reference to the note on page 255 (August R.O) a description of the procedure at Okehampton may be of interest. On arrival from Surbiton the train, normally worked by a light pacific from Exeter (duty 574), runs through and stops just west of the station. The Okehampton pilot then attaches to the rear and, after the pacific has uncoupled, draws the complete train back into the up platform road. The train is then shunted forward into the loading bay on the up side west of the station, where passengers and cars are disembarked; meanwhile the Pacific goes on shed to turn for the return journey’.

 

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A train on the railway tracks

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With its GUV vehicles now in Green livery carrying the red /yellow paper ‘Surbiton to Okehampton Car Carrier’ destination labels, the 8.01 a.m. from Surbiton passes through Exeter St David’s on Saturday, 12th August 1961. Note the maroon van behind the locomotive.

Locomotive is rebuilt Bulleid light pacific no. 34056 ‘Croydon’. Until a number of structures (including Meldon viaduct) were strengthened in 1960 these rebuilt engines had been prohibited west of Cowley Bridge Junction.

© Mike Morant collection

 

1961

To increase the capacity to twenty-four motor cars, eight BR standard GUV vehicles were now employed being especially repainted into Green for the summer service commencing 17th June 1961. These were S86766 + S86805 + S86745 + S86762 + S86727 + S86730 + S86739 + S86782; all being repainted between March and early June of that year at Lancing Carriage Works.

That the GUV vehicles changed each year suggests a significant number (at least) of these vehicles were repainted by the SR into Green livery; those used on the Okehampton Car Carrier possibly being selected from early repaints.

 

GUV Maroon to Green Lancing Repainting dates

No.

Date.

No.

Date.

S86727

9-Mar-61

S86762

14-Mar-61

S86730

1-May-61

S86766

15-May-61

S86739

8-Jun-61

S86782

12-May-61

S86745

?-61

S86805

?-61

 

The passenger accommodation changed again in 1961, to S4443S (BSO) + S7886S (RS) + S4043 (SO) and GUV vehicles S86766 + S86805 + S86745 + S86762 + S86727 + S86730 + S86739 + S86782. The 1961 month of painting S86745 or S86805 into green from lined maroon livery is currently unknown.

Coach no. S4443S (BSO) was an ex.SE division boat services vehicle. The Kitchen Second (RS) S7886S had formerly running as a part of Bulleid 6-set 295 but had now been displaced by one of the new Mk 1 RB vehicles.

During week-ending 29th July 1961 S4437S (BSO) replaced S4443S and S4042 (SO) replaced S4043 and in August 1961 S7881S (RS) replaced S7886S (RS).

The train was now authorised to run peak-Fridays and Sundays. However, the Friday trains were lightly loaded and most of the Sunday trains were cancelled due to lack of demand. When it did run on Sunday 13th of August 1961 only four motor cars were carried.

It was reported by the SCWS that there was a change from red /yellow-ground to blue /yellow-ground paper destination labels during 1961.

 

 

 

A train on the railway tracks

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Battle of Britain 34109 ‘Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory’ and the Down train leaving Exeter Central on Saturday, 8th September 1962; this originally being just one of three rebuilt light Pacifics allocated to Exmouth Junction. Note the car-carrier labels on the vans; these being stick-on (rather than boards) because the GUV vehicles did not carry destination board brackets.

© Ted West (Mike King collection)

 

June 1962

The Surbiton to Okehampton Car Carrier was formed coaches S7881S + S1481S + S4437S and GUV vehicles S86708 + S86712 + S86720 + S86763 + S86778 + S86790 + S86806 all newly painted Green and branded (paper strip) ‘Surbiton - Okehampton Car Carrier’. It is possible only seven GUV vehicles were employed during this year else an eighth was not recorded.

 

 

 

35015 Rotterdam Lloyd on the Okehampton Car Carrier

West of Worting Junction and approaching Battledown flyover in 1962, the Okehampton Car Carrier is hauled by MN 35015 ‘Rotterdam Lloyd’. In the Down direction the eight green GUV vehicles were marshalled between the locomotive and the three passenger coaches at the train’s rear.

© Alan Reeve (thanks to Michael Welch /Bluebell Railway)

 

June 1963

The Surbiton to Okehampton Car Carrier was formed coaches S4386S + S7881S + S2529S and GUV vehicles S86747 + S86787 + S86807 + S86760 + S86738 + S86834 + S86822 + S86752.

In 1962 3 Cor ‘H’ set 864 had been reduced to a 2-set for use on ‘The Royal Wessex’ service. This left Bulleid BSK S2529S ‘Loose’ and so available for inclusion in the Okehampton Car Carrying train.

 

 

A train on a track

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With its 3.55 p.m. departure now due, all motor cars having been loaded, the train engine and three coaches attached, on Saturday, 8th August 1964 the Okehampton Car Carrying train is now waiting for the ‘right-of-way’.

On the Down line West Country class no.34020 ‘Seaton’ pulls away for the station stop at Okehampton towards Meldon Viaduct thence on its way Padstow; the 11.15 a.m. Waterloo having divided into the 3.39 p.m. to Plymouth (already departed) & 3.55 p.m. to Padstow.

© Glen Woods collection /Bluebell Railway

 

June 1964

This was the last year of the Surbiton to Okehampton Car Carrier; ironically the first year it appeared in the public timetable. The formation is not recorded but probably unchanged since 1963. The last day of operation was Saturday, 12th September 1964.

On Saturday, 6th June 1964 the Okehampton Car Carrier was hauled by Hymek type 3 no.D7095 from Exeter finally arriving Clapham Yard (ECS) in the small hours of Sunday morning. This suggests it undertook the necessary shunting at Surbiton and it was quite possibly the stock was now being berthed in Clapham Yard (else the Hymek crew were simply unable to take the stock to Farnham from Clapham Yard).

A Sundays-only Waterloo to Exeter car carrying service was also provided during this year with cars being loaded onto a single GUV which was attached to the 9.0 a.m. Waterloo to Exeter Central and the 4.12 p.m. return.

 

 

 

A train on the railway tracks

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From set 864 and now ‘Loose’, Bulleid BSK 2529 at Eastleigh on 1st June 1962. The carriage roundel was intended for ‘The Royal Wessex’ but in 1963 this coach appeared in the Okehampton Car Carrying train instead.

© Ted West (Mike King collection)

 

Summary of Passenger Coaches

The following formations have been identified but may not be fully inclusive.

Coach No.

Type

Diag No.

Builder

From

To

34976
(Green set 564)

BSK

182

Met-Cam
(Mk1)

18-Jun-60

23-Jul-60

15892
(Green set 564)

CK

128

Met-Cam
(Mk1)

18-Jun-60

23-Jul-60

34977
(Green set 564)

BSK

182

Met-Cam
(Mk1)

18-Jun-60

23-Jul-60

6725
(Green Apr-60)

BCK

2406

Bulleid
(10¼”)

30-Jul-60

27-Aug-60

7616
(Green Sep-57)

FK

2552

Bulleid
(15” vents)

30-Jul-60

27-Aug-60

6731
(Green Oct-57)

BCK

2406

Bulleid
(10¼”)

30-Jul-60

27-Aug-60

6729
(Green Dec-56)

BCK

2406

Bulleid
(10¼”)

3-Sep-60

10-Sep-60

3064
(Green May-58)

FO

73

Doncaster (Mk1)

3-Sep-60

10-Sep-60

6736
(Green Apr-57)

BCK

2406

Bulleid
(10¼”)

3-Sep-60

10-Sep-60

4043
(Green Aug-56)

SO

93

Ashf. /Swin.
(Mk.1)

Jun-61

22-Jul-61

7886
(Green Dec-56)

RS

2660

Bulleid
(ex.290)

Jun-61

(cont.)

4433
(Green Nov-56)

BSO

2654

Maunsell
(ex. nondescript)

Jun-61

22-Jul-61

4042
(Green Aug-56)

SO

93

Ashf. /Swin.
(Mk.1)

29-Jul-61

(cont.)

7886
(Green Dec-56)

RS

2660

Bulleid
(ex.295)

(cont.)

Jul /Aug-61

4437
(Green Feb-58)

BSO

2654

Maunsell
(ex. nondescript)

29-Jul-61

(cont.)

4042
(Green Aug-56)

SO

93

Ashf. /Swin.
(Mk.1)

(cont.)

9-Sep-61

7881
(Green Dec-56)

RS

2660

Bulleid
(ex.290)

Aug-61

(cont.)

4437
(Green Feb-58)

BSO

2654

Maunsell
(ex. nondescript)

(cont.)

(cont.)

1481
(Green May-57)

SO

2017

Bulleid
(15” vents)

Jun-62

Sep-62

7881
(Green Dec-56)

RS

2660

Bulleid
(ex.290)

(cont.)

(cont.)

4437
(Green Feb-58)

BSO

2654

Maunsell
(ex. nondescript)

(cont.)

Sep-62

4386
(Green Apr-57)

SO

93

Ashf. /Swin.
(Mk.1)

Jun-63

Sep-63*

7881
(Green Dec-56)

RS

2660

Bulleid
(ex.290)

(cont.)

Sep-63*

2529
(Green w. roundel)

BSK

2123

Bulleid
(15” vents)

Jun-63

Sep-63*

* Note – 1963 formation may have been used in 1964.

 

Summary of GUV Vehicles

The following GUV vehicles have been identified but may not be fully inclusive.

.

GUV

1960
(Lined Maroon)

1961
(Green)*

1962
(Green)

1963
(Green)

1964
(Green)

S86708

(Not known)

 

Yes

 

(Not known)

S86712

(Not known)

 

Yes

 

(Not known)

S86720

(Not known)

 

Yes

 

(Not known)

S86727

(Not known)

Yes

 

 

(Not known)

S86730

(Not known)

Yes

 

 

(Not known)

S86738

(Not known)

 

 

Yes

(Not known)

S86739

(Not known)

Yes

 

 

(Not known)

S86745

(Not known)

Yes

 

 

(Not known)

S86747

(Not known)

 

 

Yes

(Not known)

S86752

(Not known)

 

 

Yes

(Not known)

S86760

(Not known)

 

 

Yes

(Not known)

S86762

(Not known)

Yes

 

 

(Not known)

S86763

(Not known)

 

Yes

 

(Not known)

S86766

(Not known)

Yes

 

 

(Not known)

S86778

(Not known)

 

Yes

 

(Not known)

S86782

(Not known)

Yes

 

 

(Not known)

S86787

(Not known)

 

 

Yes

(Not known)

S86790

(Not known)

 

Yes

 

(Not known)

S86805

(Not known)

Yes

 

 

(Not known)

S86806

(Not known)

 

Yes

 

(Not known)

S86807

(Not known)

 

 

Yes

(Not known)

S86822

(Not known)

 

 

Yes

(Not known)

S86834

(Not known)

 

 

Yes

(Not known)

No. of GUV vehicles

Seven

Eight

Seven?

Eight

None

*The photograph taken at Exeter on 12th August 1961 appears to shew a maroon GUV behind the locomotive and the reason why is unclear; it may have been a last-minute substitution for a failed GUV.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prepared by Glen Woods and Colin Watts. Thanks to historical author Mike King (including permission to use photographs from his collection), Roger Merry-Price & the Bluebell Railway Museum Archive, the works of David Gould, Keith Parkin, John Nicolas & George Reeve and contemporary notes made by SC&WS members.

 

Recommended reading is as follows:

The Illustrated History of Southern Coaches
Mike King
[ISBN 0 86093 570 1]

The Okehampton Line
John Nicolas & George Reeve
[ISBN 0 903266 13 0]

British Railways Mk1 Coaches
Keith Parkin
[ISBN 0 906899 49 4]

Bulleid’s SR Steam Carriage Stock
David Gould
[ISBN ?]

Southern Coaches Survey – Pre-grouping and BR MK1 Stock
Mike King
[ISBN 978-0-86093-665-7].

Lancing 1956
Glen Woods
[ISBN 9 780956 765529]

 

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