Carriages used to bring Titanic passengers to Southampton set to be destroyed?

concerned1

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Can’t see this covered elsewhere in the forum. Anyone know the story behind this rolling stock? Assume these were SWR boat train coaches for the Waterloo - Southampton services... anyone know when they were withdrawn and how they ended up at a random Welsh yard?

Titanic historians have discovered two train carriages they believe took passengers to the ship ahead of its infamous maiden journey.

Members of the British Titanic Society think the wooden carriages, found in a yard in South Wales, formed part of a train that carried passengers from London to Southampton on 10 April 1912.

Five days later the Southampton-based liner sank in the North Atlantic Ocean.

It is hoped the carriages, which are due to be scrapped, can be restored.
 
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Cowley

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Are these at the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway?
I wonder if they’re the actual coaches that took passengers on that journey or if they’re just of the same type?
 

concerned1

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Are these at the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway?
I wonder if they’re the actual coaches that took passengers on that journey or if they’re just of the same type?
This what I thought too, does anyone know if there were carriage numbers or anything that could identify the individual carriages departing Waterloo for Southampton on the morning of 10th April 1912?
 

O L Leigh

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Surely any connection is unproveable, but if it saves a couple of survivors then I think the outcome would be good. The supposed certainty of the Titanic Society about it does worry me, though.
 

Gloster

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After a bit of searching I would (very) tentatively suggest that these are former Dining Saloons 70 and 76. Unless someone has a record of which vehicles were in the formation of the boat trains, I can’t see how anyone can be absolutely certain that they were used in them. Unfortunately, I can’t find my copy of Gordon Weddell’s book, which might have more information. As I said at the beginning, this is all very tentative.
 

Cowley

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After a bit of searching I would (very) tentatively suggest that these are former Dining Saloons 70 and 76. Unless someone has a record of which vehicles were in the formation of the boat trains, I can’t see how anyone can be absolutely certain that they were used in them. Unfortunately, I can’t find my copy of Gordon Weddell’s book, which might have more information. As I said at the beginning, this is all very tentative.

Yep I’d absolutely agree there @Gloster. It feels like an attempt to make something out of these that they’re probably not.
It would be a shame to see them lost mind, but there’s carriages like this deteriorating on many different preserved lines around the country and if the labour and money isn’t available to restore them then at some point facts need to be faced.
 

WesternLancer

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Would that be these 2 below? Would be a shame to see them go.

Given the seeming ongoing obsession with all thing Titanic I could well see making the link being a point worth making - even if it helps people understand the 'sport of train' people would have traveled to board the ship on is worthwhile sort of learning experience for people.
If the group can use this to save raise the money, save them and restore them - eg over in the Titanic Quarter in Belfast - very good luck to them!

LSWR 76 Restaurant Composite (later Breakdown coach) built 1908


LSWR 70 Restaurant Composite built 1907

 

Taunton

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Would a Restaurant Composite be in the Titanic boat train? I would expect in those days for a ship of that size there would be separate trains for First and for Third class. It was common on the LSWR for there to be three or four boat trains for a major transatlantic liner, and for them to be run as separate classes.
 

Ashley Hill

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It would be a shame to see them scrapped whatever their history. As Cowley said there are similar historic wrecks rotting away on most railways whilst yet another BR Mk1 is wheeled into the carriage works for overhaul.
 

ac6000cw

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Given the seeming ongoing obsession with all thing Titanic
...which I don't really understand - 'Titanic' has entered the language as a constant reminder of the awful disaster, that's the highest form of memorial I can think of for the more than 1500 people who died. Let them rest in peace - why do people need to keep raking it over, it feels more like ghoulish interest to me...
 

WesternLancer

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...which I don't really understand - 'Titanic' has entered the language as a constant reminder of the awful disaster, that's the highest form of memorial I can think of for the more than 1500 people who died. Let them rest in peace - why do people need to keep raking it over, it feels more like ghoulish interest to me...
Agree. I nearly said in my post that I do wonder what the relatives of other (long publicly forgotten) maritime disasters think of the way Titanic is spoken of as if it was almost a lone incident....
 

HSTEd

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Would there be a logbook in an archive somewhere detailing what stock was assembled to be in that train, or is that all since lost to history?
 

Gloster

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Would there be a logbook in an archive somewhere detailing what stock was assembled to be in that train, or is that all since lost to history?
You can never be quite sure what might have survived, but it is unlikely that a routine list of which vehicles were in which train would have been kept for long. Even if a routine record had been kept in some ledger, pressure on space would mean that it would eventually have been dumped and it would be unlikely that someone doing so would say, “Eureka! That is a list of the coaches that took passengers to a ship which sank and will become famous in fifty/sixty/seventy, etc. years time.” There is a minuscule chance that someone might have kept something out of interest, but that is all: pure chance.
 

Journeyman

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You can never be quite sure what might have survived, but it is unlikely that a routine list of which vehicles were in which train would have been kept for long. Even if a routine record had been kept in some ledger, pressure on space would mean that it would eventually have been dumped and it would be unlikely that someone doing so would say, “Eureka! That is a list of the coaches that took passengers to a ship which sank and will become famous in fifty/sixty/seventy, etc. years time.” There is a minuscule chance that someone might have kept something out of interest, but that is all: pure chance.
Unfortunately this also pre-dates railway enthusiasm as we now know it by about thirty years, so I'm guessing the sorts of logs and notebooks that spotters later kept just didn't exist back then. Photography was an expensive luxury too, and technically very limited.
 

Gloster

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Unfortunately this also pre-dates railway enthusiasm as we now know it by about thirty years, so I'm guessing the sorts of logs and notebooks that spotters later kept just didn't exist back then. Photography was an expensive luxury too, and technically very limited.
There were a few, a very few, railway enthusiasts about then, but the chance that one was at Waterloo to see these particular trains, even though they were slightly more interesting than most trains, is infinitesimal. There were a few photos taken of the trains, but the chance that a coach number is visible in one is again infinitesimal.
 

Journeyman

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There were a few, a very few, railway enthusiasts about then, but the chance that one was at Waterloo to see these particular trains, even though they were slightly more interesting than most trains, is infinitesimal. There were a few photos taken of the trains, but the chance that a coach number is visible in one is again infinitesimal.
Yeah, I figured. Back then, an academic, scholarly interest in railways among gentlemen seemed acceptable, but "trainspotting" certainly didn't exist, and I think most ordinary people didn't pay much attention to what was going on with the railways. I can't imagine there were many rivet-counters back in those days. There may not have been many rivets to count. :)
 

UrieS15

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I have watched and read with fascination your reflections. I suspect I am one of the older guys by some margin, but one thought bothers me. Apart from the not entirley well thought out preservation that took place when steam went, there nave already been too many 'perhaps we shouldn't have done that' moments in the preservation world where scrap value or space have taken priority over historical value. I fully understand the pressures on manpower and space and of expertise and I do not minimise them, but it seems to me that these two carriages regardless of their legendary repute need to be saved. If we have an organisation exercised enough to raise their provenance and offer them an ultimate home surely some organisation such as maybe the Vintage Carriages Trust should address their restoration, or at very least their continued existence until a home and future is found.
 

ChiefPlanner

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There were a few, a very few, railway enthusiasts about then, but the chance that one was at Waterloo to see these particular trains, even though they were slightly more interesting than most trains, is infinitesimal. There were a few photos taken of the trains, but the chance that a coach number is visible in one is again infinitesimal.

Obviously Waterloo dealt with a range of "ocean liner" business on a daily business , so whilst there may have been a bit more interest in the new "wonder , practically unsinkable , ship" - I doubt there would have been more than it being noted , until after the event.

Shame perhaps the log book of the Clapham Junction Yardmaster has not survived !
 

zwk500

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I have watched and read with fascination your reflections. I suspect I am one of the older guys by some margin, but one thought bothers me. Apart from the not entirley well thought out preservation that took place when steam went, there nave already been too many 'perhaps we shouldn't have done that' moments in the preservation world where scrap value or space have taken priority over historical value. I fully understand the pressures on manpower and space and of expertise and I do not minimise them, but it seems to me that these two carriages regardless of their legendary repute need to be saved. If we have an organisation exercised enough to raise their provenance and offer them an ultimate home surely some organisation such as maybe the Vintage Carriages Trust should address their restoration, or at very least their continued existence until a home and future is found.
Not trying to be obtuse, but what historic value do these particular carriages carry above, for example, the train that carried the Lusitania passengers? Boat trains were part and parcel of the day, and many have been preserved. Those already in preservation tell the story of the role of the railways in Ocean Liners generally and Titanic specifically. Document the carriage numbers and what we can find of their history for archives - you never know who'll dig it up later and what they might think to link it to - but to invest money in effectively building a brand new coach on an underframe that might have carried the Titanic boat train seems to be a poor use of space and resource over much more interesting parts of railway/transport/social history.
It's also probably worth pointing out that a fair proportion of Titanic's passengers won't have got the boat train from Waterloo, as many joined at Cherbourg and Cork Harbour as well as those who would have made their own way to Southampton.
 

ChiefPlanner

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Not trying to be obtuse, but what historic value do these particular carriages carry above, for example, the train that carried the Lusitania passengers? Boat trains were part and parcel of the day, and many have been preserved. Those already in preservation tell the story of the role of the railways in Ocean Liners generally and Titanic specifically. Document the carriage numbers and what we can find of their history for archives - you never know who'll dig it up later and what they might think to link it to - but to invest money in effectively building a brand new coach on an underframe that might have carried the Titanic boat train seems to be a poor use of space and resource over much more interesting parts of railway/transport/social history.
It's also probably worth pointing out that a fair proportion of Titanic's passengers won't have got the boat train from Waterloo, as many joined at Cherbourg and Cork Harbour as well as those who would have made their own way to Southampton.

Not to mention a special ran from Paris to Le Havre for boarding continental passengers. The passenger tender which served the liners is (sensibly) preserved and restored in Belfast.

Not so sure that the saving of a resturant car is sensible really (well covered generally as as Royal Saloons etc) , whereas rank and file stock is often not preserved.
 

WesternLancer

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Not trying to be obtuse, but what historic value do these particular carriages carry above, for example, the train that carried the Lusitania passengers? Boat trains were part and parcel of the day, and many have been preserved. Those already in preservation tell the story of the role of the railways in Ocean Liners generally and Titanic specifically. Document the carriage numbers and what we can find of their history for archives - you never know who'll dig it up later and what they might think to link it to - but to invest money in effectively building a brand new coach on an underframe that might have carried the Titanic boat train seems to be a poor use of space and resource over much more interesting parts of railway/transport/social history.
It's also probably worth pointing out that a fair proportion of Titanic's passengers won't have got the boat train from Waterloo, as many joined at Cherbourg and Cork Harbour as well as those who would have made their own way to Southampton.
I tend to think vehicles of that era are so rare their is an intrinsic historical value in them per se - and after restoration can be part of historic trains etc that have a large educational value. Looking at the carriage register for LSWR stock I linked to above like that there is very little surviving, let alone in safe, restored condition I don't think. But restoration costs are major as can be seen by lines that have achieved that - eg Bluebell. I suspect these have declined since they were taken on too - as owners have not been able to resource repairs or dry coverage.

The Titanic link is no more than a hook for people with a more modest interest I think, and if that works and sparks poeple's interest and imagination I think that is no bad thing really.
 

UrieS15

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Not to mention a special ran from Paris to Le Havre for boarding continental passengers. The passenger tender which served the liners is (sensibly) preserved and restored in Belfast.

Not so sure that the saving of a resturant car is sensible really (well covered generally as as Royal Saloons etc) , whereas rank and file stock is often not preserved.
I'm sorry but the point I'm making is not to do with the Titanic or indeed with the function of the carriages, although I was unaware of many rank and file vehicles of their age jostling for restoration; it is that I would feel that future generations would puzzle over why we abandoned artefacts that had survived so long, which were now not there for them. We have reached the stage of recreating locos that became extinct, but we are contemplating the demise of two genuine survivors. I am aware that like 'Trigger's brush' that 'only needed a head and a new handle' there will be little of the originals left; I still feel a little out of the box thinking, such as a youth skills programme project/ apprnticeship project possibly in Northern Ireland could be their salvation.
 

WesternLancer

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Looking at the carriage register for LSWR stock, quite a high proportion of LSWR stock listed is either very poor condition un restored and in decay on farms etc or on preserved lines like these items, or has already been scrapped since being entered on the list due to poor state / lack of clear plans to restore. So more going the same way is not so great news.
 

zwk500

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Looking at the carriage register for LSWR stock, quite a high proportion of LSWR stock listed is either very poor condition un restored and in decay on farms etc or on preserved lines like these items, or has already been scrapped since being entered on the list due to poor state / lack of clear plans to restore. So more going the same way is not so great news.
True, and if there are no ordinary LSWR boat train vehicles preserved (or likely to be restored) then it might make sense, as boat trains are a very important chapter in UK rail history.
I'm sorry but the point I'm making is not to do with the Titanic or indeed with the function of the carriages, although I was unaware of many rank and file vehicles of their age jostling for restoration; it is that I would feel that future generations would puzzle over why we abandoned artefacts that had survived so long, which were now not there for them. We have reached the stage of recreating locos that became extinct, but we are contemplating the demise of two genuine survivors. I am aware that like 'Trigger's brush' that 'only needed a head and a new handle' there will be little of the originals left; I still feel a little out of the box thinking, such as a youth skills programme project/ apprnticeship project possibly in Northern Ireland could be their salvation.
I feel a better project would be to build a replica from scratch, possibly using the opportunity to modify the design to better fit it's intended final purpose, be that Mainline crashworthiness or Museum accessibility. Sometimes the greater part of the story is in the loss and discovery, which restoration to an arbitrary point in it's life would potential obscure. Preserve these carriages like the Mary Rose, and then have a replica accessible to all, maybe with different stages of it's life reconstructed (liveries, layouts, etc in different compartments?) to tell the story through time. The fact that they sat in a yard for 30 years is no less a part of their story than 1 single train they might have ran in, nor is the story of rediscovery any less part of Britain's railway history than boat trains generally.
 

102 fan

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...which I don't really understand - 'Titanic' has entered the language as a constant reminder of the awful disaster, that's the highest form of memorial I can think of for the more than 1500 people who died. Let them rest in peace - why do people need to keep raking it over, it feels more like ghoulish interest to me...


It's even worse in N Ireland, I've often said that projects here only get money if they're about the Titanic or the Troubles. I've never understood the fascination with the tragedy, it's like Boeing having a museum beside the factory about all the crashed 747's.
 

Dr_Paul

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I am aware that like 'Trigger's brush' that 'only needed a head and a new handle' there will be little of the originals left...
Indeed... But when I see the magnificent work that some of the preservation companies do in restoring a derelict chicken-run into a delightful, say, LBSC four-wheeler on the Bluebell Railway, then I'm happy for it to be 90 per cent new material. We're really talking about a replica job here, with just a few fragments of the original timber remaining: but if the end result can be a couple of 'new' LSWR vehicles, I don't mind.
'Titanic' has entered the language as a constant reminder of the awful disaster, that's the highest form of memorial I can think of for the more than 1500 people who died. Let them rest in peace - why do people need to keep raking it over, it feels more like ghoulish interest to me...
I also find the inordinate amount of interest in the fate of the Titanic somewhat baffling. There's so much more to the great oceanic liners than this disaster. It's rather like recounting the history of British railways by concentrating upon Quintinshill and Harrow.
 

DerekC

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I also find the inordinate amount of interest in the fate of the Titanic somewhat baffling. There's so much more to the great oceanic liners than this disaster. It's rather like recounting the history of British railways by concentrating upon Quintinshill and Harrow.
The Titanic disaster has always created a huge amount of news interest, right from the day it happened. I guess that's because the ship was on her maiden voyage, had been given a great deal of publicity including that she was unsinkable, and that the list of fatalities included a number of the great and (possibly) good of the day. And of course the events were dramatic - radio messages using cutting edge technology, rescue ships that may (or may not) have ignored distress signals and all the rest. Then there was A Night to Remember in the 1950s. I helped to host a working party of Chinese engineers in Southampton in the 1980s and the only thing they knew about the city was that the Titanic had sailed from there, because they had all seen the film. And then (in case interest was fading) there was the Titanic blockbuster movie in the 1990s. Not surprising that the interest continues!

As regards the real subject of the thread, I strongly support the idea that funds and energy should focus on rebuilding historic vehicles rather than keeping yet more tatty Mk Is going. And if the Titanic connection (however remote) helps to get the money in, why not? The problem is, I suspect, that we have too many heritage railways for the funding and energy available. The current state of the vehicles in question emphasises the point.
 

Tomos y Tanc

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The Titanic disaster has always created a huge amount of news interest, right from the day it happened. I guess that's because the ship was on her maiden voyage, had been given a great deal of publicity including that she was unsinkable, and that the list of fatalities included a number of the great and (possibly) good of the day. And of course the events were dramatic - radio messages using cutting edge technology, rescue ships that may (or may not) have ignored distress signals and all the rest. Then there was A Night to Remember in the 1950s. I helped to host a working party of Chinese engineers in Southampton in the 1980s and the only thing they knew about the city was that the Titanic had sailed from there, because they had all seen the film. And then (in case interest was fading) there was the Titanic blockbuster movie in the 1990s. Not surprising that the interest continues!
The reason certain incidents live on in popular culture while others fade can be complex but there's nothing particularly ghoulish about taking an interest in one particular incident or disrespectful about ignoring others.

Why is the Titanic story so memorable? Because it's a classic tale of hubris and nemesis containing many individual stories (some real, some fictional) that intrigue people. DerekC mentions many of them above but there is one other factor. Most of the great maritime disasters, such as the sinking of the Lucitania, took place in war time when they were one tragic incident amongst many. Wartime losses were also very often shrouded in secrecy whereas the Titanic went down in peacetime with the facts of the disaster becoming common currency in fairly short order.

There are very few peacetime disasters that figure in popular culture to the same extent. In the UK, Aberfan is probably the only one that comes close to it and that doesn't the same international resonance as the Titanic.
 

102 fan

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Bit off topic, but it surprised me at the time of the 90's blockbuster film that with its millions budget they still managed to give Thomas Andrews the wrong accent!
 

Journeyman

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Bit off topic, but it surprised me at the time of the 90's blockbuster film that with its millions budget they still managed to give Thomas Andrews the wrong accent!
A lot of that film was technically brilliant, but the love story plot was a massive pile of nonsensical horse feathers.
 

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