In 1863 Craven introduced suburban carriages to the LB&SC, but instead of being new builds, these were a mixed bag of simple conversions from his main line stock with modified seating and the arm rests removed, increasing the capacity of compartments from six to eight.

It wasn’t until Stroudley took office that new suburban stock began to appear. As his  standardisation policy extended to rolling stock, his lightweight suburban 4-wheelers appeared in 1872 and continued in production for twenty nine years.

These new carriages were all constructed mahogany with teak framing, and were 26′ long by 8′ wide on a standard underframe made from Moulmein teak, and nine types were introduced:

  • A four-compartment first.
  • A five compartment second with a four compartment second appearing later.
  • Two thirds;  early versions having long side windows with no partitions to the compartments and later versions with full partitions and separate quarterlights.
  • Two brake-thirds, the passenger compartments as above.
  • Two four-compartment first/second composites with unequal compartment lengths, later batches having equal length compartments for both classes.

These suburban carriages were close-coupled in semi-permanent sets by a central buffing fixture with side chains, and standard buffers were only fitted to the brake end of brake-thirds. Initially train braking was hand operated by the guard, with wooden blocks bearing on the wheels of the brake-third carriages only. In 1875, Stroudley puruaded the Board to release funds to convert to the automatic Westinghouse brake, thus becoming one of the earliest proponents of the system, long before automatic train braking became law.

The carriages were originally built with oil lamps, but many were converted to gas. Although Stroudley was innovative and introduced the first electrically lit train in 1881, I’ve found no evidence to suggest any of his suburban stock was so converted.

Externally the carriages were varnished and gilt-lined under both Stroudley and Billinton, but once the mahogany had deteriorated to the point that further revarnishing ceased to give a satisfactory finish, they were painted in a mahogany colour. During 1903 a new livery was unveiled, cream with umber from the waist down. Just how quickly this new livery took to percolate down to the humble suburban carriages I’m not sure, but I suspect it was at least three years, possibly longer, and I welcome informed discussion on this. Roofs were white and the ends of brake-thirds vermilion.

Internal colour schemes remained fairly constant through both the Stroudley and Billinton periods, though I’d also welcome debate on just how much of the refinery seen on the main line stock was incorporated in the suburban sets.

  • First class – blue colour scheme, plush cushions with blue buffalo hide in smoking compartments. Paintwork, carpets and  blinds also in blue.
  • Second class – brown colour scheme.
  • Third class – bare wooden seats, oak grained paintwork.

For Basilica Fields I’m fortunate that Roxey Mouldings can supply all the necessary kits to build a contemporary rake.  Speaking of which, attempting to discover what might constitute a typical East London Railway set proved to be an interesting diversion, however Cheam’s accident on the ELR in 1897 generated a Board of Trade report which lists the six carriages of the train the loco was pulling, so I’m confident that building a rake consisting of a brake-third, third, first, second, third and brake-third will satisfy the historic demand.

Withdrawal of the earliest of Stroudley’s carriages commenced at the turn of the 20th century, and most, but not all had gone by Grouping.

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