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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.

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

 

Surbiton to Okehampton
Car Carrier service

The Surbiton to Okehampton Car Carrier service was introduced by British Railways on 18th June 1960 with the first train being hauled from Surbiton to Exeter by 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.

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. The return Up working left Okehampton at 3.55 p.m. reaching Surbiton at 8.11 p.m. although with shunting across to the Down side and unloading motorists could not expect a rapid ‘getaway’!

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

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At Surbiton, motor cars were end-loaded at 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. 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’ (Up side) for unloading /loading; motor cars being driven forwards onto and off the GUV vehicles.

The service ran until 12th September 1964. However, this service was arguably one of the forerunners of ‘Motorail’ (which followed in 1966) initially using GUV vehicles; these were reassigned to parcels & newspaper traffic as ‘Motorail’ replaced them by ‘Carflats’. The service lasted until 1995.

 

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

 

 

 

 

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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)

 

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.

30th July 1960

Due to the increased demand for First-class accommodation, on 30th July 1960 the BR Standard 3-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 new blue /yellow paper ‘Surbiton to Okehampton Car Carrier’ strips (instead of red /yellow) 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. However, possibly either S86745 or S86805 was still in lined maroon livery in early August 1964.

 

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 (green with yellow & blue roof labels although possibly either S86745 or S86805 was still in lined maroon livery in early August 1964).

Coach no. S4443S (BSO) was an ex.SE division boat services vehicle. The Kitchen Second (RS) S7886S had formerly running as a part of Bullied 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.

 

 

 

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 blue and yellow car-carrier labels on the vans; these being stick-on (rather than boards) because the vans did not carry roof 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’.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

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
(rebuilt Tavern car)

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
(rebuilt Tavern car)

(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
(rebuilt Tavern car)

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
(rebuilt Tavern car)

(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
(rebuilt Tavern car)

(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.

* Note - possibly either S86745 or S86805 was still in lined maroon livery in August 1964.

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)

Total no. identified

None

Eight

Seven

Eight

None

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prepared by Glen Woods with further research and editorial by railway historian Colin Watts. Thanks to historical author Mike King (including permission to use photographs from his collection), Roger Merry-Price, the works of David Gould, Keith Parkin, John Nicolas & George Reeve and contemporary notes by SC&WS.

 

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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