Multi-Purpose Open Returns to Bitton

The railway's unique Multi-Purpose Open coach arrived back to Bitton recently - and if you thought the rest of the Steam 'n' Cuisine set looks nice just take a peek at this vehicle.

Shining like a new pin the latest vehicle for the Steam 'n' Cuisine set sits gleaming in the up platform line at Bitton.  Below - what it looked like a year ago - the inside was even worse!!

The vehicle was originally FK (First Corridor) No 13231, built at Swindon in 1959 to Diagram No. 116, Lot No. 30381.  It was latterly given the number DB977132 and used (amongst other things) as a training vehicle for the SAS at Hereford, suffering major internal damage including bullet holes and stun grenade blast damage.  It was purchased by the railway in 1987 and initially stored at Long Marston before being moved to Bitton.  Such was the amount of damage to the interior of the vehicle it was decided to completely strip the vehicle inside and rebuild it as a Multi-Purpose Open vehicle for use in the Steam 'n' Cuisine set.  Work began on this task by commencing the stripping of the interior however with the amount of work necessary it would have been a long term project so the decision was made to send the coach to Rampart in Derby who carried out a full restoration of the vehicle.

Two major bodywork changes have been made - one of the windows has been plated over (as can be seen in the top photo) in readiness for a small bar to be fitted into the coach, and a set of double doors has been fitted (as can be seen below) to aid the loading of equipment into the coach.  Refurbishment work was also undertaken on the underframe and running gear.

Inside the coach has been gutted (apart from one toilet), to give an open area of some 400 square feet.  The floor has been rebuilt, carpet laid,  new ceiling and wooden walls manufactured, new lighting and wiring installed, P.A. system installed, new heaters installed - I could go on and on.

At the other end of the coach one of the original toilets has been left in - the view below also shows the blocked in window showing the area left ready for volunteers to build a small bar area - one of the few jobs still left to be done.

Once fully restored the coach will run with the Kitchen Car and open vehicles in the Steam 'n' Cuisine set.  It will be available for a variety of purposes - exhibitions, meetings, reception area, etc., etc., and can then begin to start paying back some of the considerable investment that has been made on this splendid vehicle.

All photo's - Tony Wray.

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This page last updated by Tony Wray on 9/5/2004.