Historic British Train Interiors
Many Views Looking Inside The Trains Showing Different Seating Layouts
Originally this page was intended to be a nostalgic photo-album showing mostly compartment seating on trains which I used circa 1975 - 2005, but mission creep has seen the.topic broaden to include preserved rolling stock on special event leisure services, at living museums and some examples of open / saloon type seating. Most of the trains seen on this page feature the traditional and now historic hand-operated slam doors.
Apart from preserved carriages no British trains still feature the traditional compartment (with side corridor walkway), passenger controlled lighting and heating controls, large picture windows plus (in first class) 3 aside seating, fold-up armrests and individual reading lamps.
On some trains passengers had a choice between compartment and open / saloon carriage seating, on others they did not.
The page starts with trains which were in daily passenger service when the photographs were taken.
Then the page includes examples of preserved trains which can be found at heritage centres / living museums / used on leisure-market services that still ply mainline railway tracks. In addition, there are a few replicas of passenger carriages from the very early days of the railways.
These first images come from a journey on an InterCity train with Mk2 carriages which date from the late 1960's.
General view down the corridor.
Looking into the compartment through the glass screen side and sliding door.
Looking inside the compartment through the open door.
These images come from refurbished MK1 based multiple-unit trains which until approximately 2005 used to operate on medium distance services in southern England.
The side corridor walkway.
First class, non-smoking, with three aside seating, fold-up armrests and individual reading lamps.
Inside a first class smoking compartment, complete with ashtrays,
can be seen on the section which looks at the London Transport Museum Heritage Train below.
Standard class with no armrests and 4 aside bench type seating.
Only some carriages on these trains included compartments, others had open / saloon seating, as seen below. More views showing open / saloon type seating can be seen on a dedicated page about Mk1 passenger carriages at this link: British Railways Mk1 Rolling Stock
Individual seating in a refurbished open MK1 based carriage. The seats are arranged in bays around large picture windows where the lower sill is low enough for a seated child to see out of the window.
Compartments on trains designed for short distance and suburban commuter passengers typically extended across the full width of the carriage with a single hand operated doorway on each side. The advantage of this seating style was that it was possible to achieve the highest seating capacity. Conversely there was usually little space for standing passengers whilst 'personal wheeled transports' such as wheelchairs, children in perambulators (prambs) / pushchairs / buggies / strollers etc., and pedal cycles had to travel in the area reserved for luggage - which in winter was not heated.
The images seen below come from what eventually became known as Class 307 electric multiple unit trains which were built in the mid 1950's, however even in the early 1960's British Railways was building trains which included full width compartments. Often this was only in some carriages, with semi-open seating in other carriages.
In addition to not being able to walk about the train (perhaps to access the toilet) another disadvantage of this seating configuration related to concerns of personal safety. This did not just apply to robbery, murders and sexual crimes but also that sometimes passengers who wanted to smoke a cigarette would (accidentally? not caring?) enter a non-smoking compartment and verbally abuse or even physically attack any of the other passengers who objected.
After a passenger was murdered in the 1980's BR decided to try to alert passengers who might feel vulnerable in such compartments. This was done by painting a red stripe over the passenger doorways which led to full width compartments. Unfortunately I have only found one half-decent photograph (in my personal collection) which shows this; probably because BR also started refurbishing these trains and converting the compartments to open salooon style seating, and I left it too late to try to photograph a train with the red stripes.
When built internal illumination inside these trains came from ceiling-mounted filament (incandescent) light bulbs. Compartments had two light bulbs located approximately a third of the way in from each door. Sometimes only one worked, and I have very happy *memories of the few times when both lights had failed and I was alone in a compartment on a balmy late summer's evening shortly after sunset with both door windows open wide as the train flew through London's eastern suburbs... zooming through the several intermediate stations we were not meant to call at. Modern trains may be safer, and may even have air-conditioning, but at night the glare from the lights causes reflections on the windows which interferes with the view of the passing cityscape.
*(This was on journeys which had commenced at London Liverpool Street station on the route that in circa 2018 will become part of CrossRail line 1 / the Elizabeth line).
Inside a compartment on a Class 307 train at London Liverpool Street station.
A Class 307 train at the ticket barrier end of the platform at London Liverpool Street station. The windows with white glass are for the toilets.
Being frosted in this way allowed light to enter but for obvious reasons maintained the privacy of the person using the facilities.
Partway along the train... standing next to the composite carriage, the yellow stripe denotes the first class accommodation. The frosted window for the toilet can also be seen. Through the open window can be seen part of the shiny metalwork for a luggage rack. These were located above the seat backs.
The front of a Class 307 train at London Liverpool Street Station. In those days off-peak trains to Southend Victoria called at Stratford, Ilford, Romford and then all stations (except on Sundays, when Prittlewell was closed). Such journeys missed out six intermediate stations which were served by the sliding door Class 306 trains that typically plied between Liverpool Street and Gidea Park (and sometimes Shenfield in the rush hours).
A later view, taken in the 1980's whilst Liverpool Street Station was being rebuilt. The raked train ends suggest that the train with its doors open is Class 308. Looking inside the train it looks like the train is in its final refurbished format, with a fully open interior and gangways (ie: passageways / walkways) between the individual carriages in each four-carriage trainset.
This evening rush hour view near to Liverpool Street station includes a Class 307 train which has a red stripe on the carriages where there were full-width compartments. At least two carriages per train had these red stripes - a red stripe can also (just about) be seen in front of the carriage which includes some first class seating (only in the larger version of this image).
Each of these electric multiple unit trains was formed of four carriages and typically two such units worked together as eight carriage trains (ie: 2x 4 carriage units coupled together). The four carriages in a train unit comprised:
The composite comprised three first class compartments with a side corridor and a toilet - which I feel sure was only accessible to first class passengers - plus second class seating arranged in 2+3 format aligned to the single leaf passenger doors. In these carriages it was possible to walk from seating row to seating row.
The driving open second carriage featured a similar style of seating except that it was arranged as two large compartments in-between which was a very short central corridor (reached via doors) and two toilets - one on each side of the corridor. It is very likely that the toilets discharged straight to the track.
Inside a driving trailer second open in what probably was a Class 307 train but might be a Class 308 train.
The seating is still bench style, albeit in 2 + 3 format with an offset walkway through the carriage between the seats.
The view looking into the carriage whilst standing next to the doors for the toilets.
Note the full width seating at the far end of the carriage.
In the 1980's these trains were extensively refurbished, indeed so much that some passengers thought that they were brand new trains! The works carried out included creating a fully open interior and installing gangways between individual carriages.
Inside refurbished Class 307 fully open carriage.
Not all BR suburban trains were extensively refurbished in this way, the next image comes from inside a suburban train which retained its original style of seating.
Comfortable 3+2 high-back bench-type seating and luggage racks over the seat backs.
This image shows a different style of compartment.It comes from what is believed to be one of the Class 115 diesel multiple unit trains that operated out of London Marylebone station. Note the 2 + 3 bench type seating in bays with the offset central walkway and 6 abreast seating at the internal partitions.
Compartment Carriages In Preservation
Some passenger carriages that include compartment type seating survived to the present era and therefore it is still possible to sample this type of seating - both on static rolling stick and as a real passenger, albeit (in most cases) only at leisure-themed historic living museum railways.
These first images come from a MK1 carriage which is used on railtours / private charter leisure based services. Only these two views were taken, with the intension of complementing (rather than duplicating) existing images as seen on other trains.
As previously stated, it was usual for compartments to feature passenger controlled heating controls.
Above and below:
Individual reading lights, heater controls, a full luggage rack and traditional brocade style upholstery!
Despite the bench type seating not having armrests this compartment is definately for passengers travelling first class.
This is known because by looking at the larger version of the image below it is possible to see the same upholstery as in the
view inside the compartment plus a 'First' sign on the compartment door. In addition, the image numbers are sequential!
Looking along the corridor it is possible to see where there would have been a door
between the second - or third - class compartments and the first class compartments.
This is believed to be the passenger carriage seen above - a Western Region liveried Mk1 brake composite corridor coach (BCK) at the front of the train / next to the Class 90 electric locomotive. The compartment configuration looks correct (three first, three standard / second / third), the image numerical sequence is correct and it was typical for me to explore the entire train! Alas, the carriage number is not readable.
These next views come from the East Anglia Railway Museum where on most days the carriages are static exhibits, although there are some days when trains are run as well.
The EARM is at Chappel and Wakes Colne Station which is on the Sudbury to Marks Tey branch line. Marks Tey is on the Great Eastern Mainline out of London Liverpool Street.
A compartment carriage built by British Railways designed for locomotive hauled trains out of Kings Cross station. This is a 'brake' carriage, which means that (at the far end) it includes an area for the train guard and a small goods (parcels goods, etc) area.
A side view showing the door and windows which constitute one compartment.
Internally the compartment is virtually the same as seen in the Class 307 view above.
Three aside second class compartment in a composite corridor (CK) carriage which possibly dates from when there were three classes of travel. The armrests fold up in a way which converts the seating to bench type, making it possible for four passengers to be seated there. Folding up the armrests would have also made it easier for passengers to reach the window seats.
A first class compartment in the same carriage.
Hmm, garish upholstery - and definitely three aside seating, even when the armrests have been folded up!
Being a composite carriage there was a door in the corridor, this would leave passengers in no doubt about the class status of the compartments and therefore reduce the likelihood of them accidentally (but not purposely!) travelling in the wrong part of the train.
At one end of the carriage and next to a (station platform) entrance door there were two toilets, located on opposite sides of the carriage. Walking past the toilets leads to the corridor connection to the next carriage.
These next views come from the Epping - Ongar Railway which comprises most of a former single track rural branch line that through a quirk of history became part of the London Underground railway system and for several decades was served by small profile tube trains..
The EOR is located close to Epping station on the London Underground Central Line. The visitor experience includes free travel on a vintage London bus between Epping station and
the EOR's station at North Weald.
Inside a first class compartment on a Western Region CK carriage. For greater comfort each passenger has their own seat cushion.
Inside a second class compartment, with interior sprung bench style seating. The lack of armrests is because CK coaches built for the Southern and Western regions were of a higher capacity design with four-a side seating.
Parts of the London Underground originally also used slam-door compartment trains, although by the time of the 1933 formation of the (then) London Passenger Transport Board (which later became known as London Transport) the only services which still used slam door trains were the former longer distance Metropolitan Railway routes and the through trains which used Great Western Railway and London Midland & Scottish Railway rolling stock.
Two of the former Great Western Railway 'City Stock' carriages managed to survive long enough to enter into preservation and one of these is seen elsewhere on this page. Unfortunately however none of the London Midland & Scottish Railway 'Southend Corridor Express' passenger carriages are known to have survived long enough to enter into preservation. This was a special fleet of trains which was built by the former London Tilbury & Southend Railway for through services between the Essex coastal town of Southend-On-Sea and Ealing Broadway station, swapping between steam and electric traction at either East Ham or Barking stations. It was withdrawn at the start of WW2.
The last batch of slam-door compartment trains built by the Metropolitan Railway was introduced in 1931, which was just a few years before the Met lost its independence and was forced to become part of the London Passenger Transport Board. These 'electric multiple unit' trains featured steel sides, which were painted maroon. They were built for services from London to Rickmansworth and the branch line to Watford.
This view shows what became known as a T Stock driving motor car at the 1983 Acton Depot open day. Only two T stock motor cars are still extant, both come from the last batch and were built in 1932. They survived because they were wanted for winter use de-icing the power supply rails. After they were withdrawn they were sold and nowadays are at the http://bucksrailcentre.org/ Buckinghamshire Railway Centre.
The Buckinghamshire Railway Centre and the Keighly & Worth Valley railway have the only remaining (just three) Dreadnought carriages which the Metropolitan Railway introduced in 1910. These were built for
Aldgate - Baker Street - Amersham - Aylesbury - Verney Junction services which swapped between steam and electric locomotives during station stops at either Harrow-On-The-Hill or (after 1925) Rickmansworth stations.
The Dreadnought carriages are not illustrated on this page. Links to the websites of these two railways can be found below:
Seen below are some former Metropolitan Railway passenger carriages which date from 1898 - 1900, this being a time when the Met was just one of the many privately owned British railway companies which used steam locomotives and wooden rolling stock. Until 1961 they were in regular passenger service on the Chesham branch and when the fledgling Bluebell Railway was looking for some rolling stock it chose to buy these because London Transport's selling price was significantly lower than the amount British Railways wanted for its withdrawn passenger carriages. Since then the carriages which have becomes known as the Chesham Set have been completely refurbished and nowadays sometimes carry passengers on the Bluebell Railway.
The Bluebell Railway has a large collection of historic locomotives and other rolling stock and varies the train in use depending on the event (the website has full details). Located in the border between east and west Sussex the
line is 11 miles (17.7 km) in length and trains pass through several historic / restored stations. The railway is easily reached by train at East Grinstead station and the route includes a tunnel where it is possible to sample the dim
night-time illumination inside the trains.
The green carriages seen were known as 100 seater carriages. They were so named because they have 10 compartments per carriage, each of which can seat 10 passengers (five a side). They were built by the former Southern Railway and were for passengers travelling third class. The 'golden honey' coloured carriage which has wooden sides that were varnished instead of painted is Full Third Metropolitan Railway's (MR) 'Ashbury' carriage No.394.
Looking inside the functional but rather spartan compartment.
Note the single full-width bench type seating and the other doorway on the far side of the carriage.
The door tops were rounded to reduce the likelihood of damage if a door was left open and whilst swinging 'to & fro' hit a tunnel wall on the subterranean section of track south of Finchley Road station.
This carriage is seen as a static exhibit in the former bay platform at Rickmansworth station during the year 2000 "Steam On The Met" event. The first two of the fully restored carriages (Nos. 368 and 394) plus Metropolitn Railway steam locomotive were brought here to showcase the ongoing refurbishment of the fleet and to help raise funds to complete the remaining two carriages.
Looking inside the third class compartment. The air vents in the ceiling were a feature of smoking compartments (cigarettes, etc.)
Looking inside a first class compartment in carriage No.412.
Full third carriage No.394.
The guard and luggage end of Brake third carriage No.387.
More about carriage 368 and its restoration.
Clicking this link will open a version of this photograph (in a new window) where it will be just about possible to read the text in the image .
Many of the above photographs date from 2000 - 2003, when some other vintage MR carriages were still being restored. Since then the full rake of four carriages (3x Ashbury and 1x Craven) has become known as the Metropolitan Vintage Train. From time to time they are taken to London (in the process being some of the oldest rolling stock to still travel on our national rail system) where they are used on historic events that usually include haulage by authentic historic Metropolitan Railway steam and electric locomotives - and sometimes also steam or diesel locomotive from other railway companies.
First / third Composite Ashbury carriage No.368 and an arriving S Stock train at Hammersmith (Met) station.
Looking through a train window whilst at a station and seeing another train on an adjacent track is not normally noteworthy, however the view seen here is one which it will not be possible to replicate too often. Whilst S stock trains do have many comfortable features they are still standard class... first class no longer exists on the London Underground.
Metropolitan Railway Full Third / Control Trailer Bogie coach No.400 at the London Transport Museum offers visitors a reminder of something that at one time was a common feature on many railways but has not been seen demonstrated (in the present era) anywhere else - not even at a Living Museum. This is a Ladies Only compartment.
The idea behind these gender-specific compartments was to create a part of the train where only ladies were admitted, so that they (especially if travelling alone) should be safe from men who would commit sexist crimes - and worse. It is probable that designating compartments for just the one gender would be illegal under present-day gender equality legislation.
Ashbury Bogie coach No.400 at the London Transport Museum.
The Ladies Only compartment is next to the compartment which is being used as a train driver's cab.
Looking through the open window of the Ladies Only compartment.
In the early days of the railways passengers travelled in four wheel carriages which were not that different to horse-drawn stagecoaches. One (of the many) railway companies which built such carriages was London's Metropolitan Railway. One of these carriages is still extant and after restoration has become of heritage / nostalgic interest.
The fleet of Jubilee carriages (so named in honour of Queen Victoria's 1887 Golden Jubilee) were built for services which travelled to Chesham and Aylesbury, although similar carriages were also built for what at the time was known as the Inner Circle and nowadays as the Circle Line. They were withdrawn in 1905, when the Metropolitan Railway introduced new electric trains on its urban services.
Having ended up as a shed on a farm, this beautifully restored first class varnished teak carriage makes for a stark contrast with trains of the present era! Note how it is luxuriously furnished with deep buttoned upholstery - even on the insides of the carriage doors. Each seating bay also includes the Metropolitan Railway MR logo. Originally they used pressurised gas lighting, however when refurbished it was found that electric LED lights offered a visually similar but much safer way to mimic the appearance of the gas mantles.
This carriage is used variously with the Metropolitan Heritage train and the Metropolitan Vintage train, alongside an original Metropolitan milk van which also survived to the present era and has been restored.
Metropolitan Jubilee carriage No.353 at Hammersmith (Met) station when it was carrying fare paying passengers (who had bought a special ticket in advance) during a 2014 Steam On The Met event which celebrated 150 years of the Hammersmith & City Railway.
Inside, as seen at an open day at the London Transport Museum Acton Depot.
The Didcot Railway Centre has some present-era replicas of second and third class passenger carriages of an even older design which dates from the early days of the railways - in fact from the days when the GWR used broad gauge trains. They were built in 1984 for the Science Museum, to celebrate 1985 being 150 years since the passing of the Act of Parliament which formed the Great Western Railway Company in 1835. The third class carriage is based on an 1838 design. Whilst the second class carriage also originally dates from 1984 it was rebuilt in 2010.
Second class passengers were more fortunate in that they benefitted from carriage roofs and sides, although there was no glazing.
There were four compartments, with semi-open wooden partitions between them.
Each compartment could only be accessed from its own side doors.
Third class passengers travelled in open wagons.
I suppose that the rudimentary wooden cross-bench seating is still an advance on some overseas present-day trains which include carriages that are designed for standing passengers only!
Third class carriage signage. Hmmm!!!
The Didcot Railway Centre is focussed on the former Great Western Railway. It offers train rides on its two short demonstration lines, although whilst the website usually details which locomotives are in service it does not always specify which passenger carriages are also being used.
However many of the attractions here are as static exhibits, including a full locomotive shed which visitors are welcome to enter, many historic passenger carriages which can be seen as indoor exhibits, a working turntable, some broad gauge trains and track, a broad gauge / standard gauge goods transfer shed, and more. The centre is easily reached by direct access from Didcot Parkway station.
Included in its large collection of other rolling stock is a clerestory coach from 1901 and the only known surviving GWR passenger carriages which also ran over Metropolitan Railway metals.
Preserved GWR 1901 Dean compartment clerestory third class compartment coach No. 1941 at Didcot Railway Centre. This is one of the few such carriages which survived in passenger service until the late 1950's, and was then retained because the railway found other uses for it.
Built to a design which dated from the 1890's, No.1941 has eight full width compartments which seat 10 passengers (five each side). The raised central section of the roof was not a decorative feature - known as a clerestory roof its purpose was to create space for the gas lamps so that they were not in the way of the passengers' heads. The gas for the lighting was stored in tanks located under the coach chassis. In later years the lighting was converted to electricity. This 2014 view shows the coach as it was whilst restoration works were underway.
Preserved GWR 1920/21 Churchward City Stock passenger carriage at Didcot Railway Centre. A fleet of these carriages were used on suburban services out of Paddington station; until 1939 some peak-hour workings also travelled through to stations in the City area of London, switching between haulage by GWR steam and Metropolitan Railway electric locomotives (such as Sarah Siddons) at Paddington.
This one is going to Moorgate.
Initially there were six trains which used City Stock passenger carriages. Each train had six close-coupled carriages and comprised 2x third class brake, 2x full third and 2x first / third composite. In 1925 a further three trains were built. These also comprised six carriages but were formed of 2x rakes of triplet articulated carriages.
Looking inside a third class City Stock compartment. Extra platform staff were needed when calling at Metropolitan Railway stations, this was to ensure that all passenger doors were closed and the train was ready to depart as soon as possible. On a busy railway that (in the peak hours) ran more trains per hour than is possible in the present era it was seen as very important that no station dwell time became a source of delays for the entire service.
The London Transport Museum Heritage Train (formerly known as the Metropolitan Heritage Train) comprises a former Class 438 British Railways 4TC multiple unit train. Although sometimes used at living museums this train is also used during special events on suburban parts of the London Underground system, which is very much a working railway (ie: one that carries fare paying passengers) during which time it travels at something nearer to normal speed rather than the very slow 25 mph (40 km/h) speed limit which most heritage railways must observe.
As the train only has a few compartments so only a fortunate few passengers are able to sample this style of seating. Everyone else must travel in the open carriages. Nevertheless, even for these passengers the ride experience is still far better than many present-day trains!.
The window side of the compartments. Although reflections partly compromise the view it is possible to peer through the compartment on the left and see someone walking along the side corridor. A coffee cup can be seen on the small window ledge table of the compartment on the right. The open door on the left edge is for the guards area, next to it is a closed passenger door that has bars over the drop-down window. These are there to prevent passengers from sticking their heads out the window whilst the train is in motion. The light between the two compartments was added during a 2017 upgrade and repaint. It illuminates when the passenger doors are unlocked.
Inside a compartment - the reading lights suggest that this may have originally been built for first class passengers but was later downgraded to standard class. This sometimes happened on the railways - if it suited the management!
Although similar to the view seen earlier on this page everything in this image looks cleaner! Note the window blind.
Standing with my back to the outside window, looking towards the side corridor.
Seated with my back to the side corridor, looking towards and through the outside window.
Note the small table which is just large enough for a few drinks.
Dating from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games the advertisement seen through the window is also of nostalgic interest.
Inside a first class compartment which was originally used by passengers who liked to smoke tobacco whilst they travelled - the window stickers banning smoking would not have been there in those days. An ashtray can be seen to the left of the window ledge table; to the right of the table can be seen some screw holes which suggest that originally there would have also been an ashtray at that position.
A closer view of an ashtray - this is located next to the seats at the corridor end of the compartment.
These two views which include the ashtrays were photographed in 2017.
Inside a standard class open carriage with 2 + 2 facing seating around tables and correctly aligned to the windows.
This carriage still retains its original filament (incandescent) light bulb lighting.
More views showing the London Transport Museum Heritage Train - both outside and inside, including open / saloon type seating - can be seen on a dedicated page about Mk1 passenger carriages at the link below.
Two Films Of Related Interest
Two films about slam door trains have been placed on the ‘YouTube’ film / video website and can either be watched below or in new windows by clicking the links below the films.
This film combines still images and cassette tape sounds of a journey on a British Rail electric multiple unit train.
Click this link to watch at ‘YouTube’ a new window. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNNPQ9DD4no
Recorded in the 1980's, the journey is on an eastbound all stations rush hour train travelling from London Liverpool Street. The film starts just before a section break (gap in overhead wire power supply sections) and the train calls at Stratford, Maryland, Forest Gate and Manor Park stations, before ending after I have alighted at Ilford and the train has left the station. The train type was either Classes 305, 307 or 308.
This film is a medley of slam door trains of various types calling at stations.
Filmed in the early 1990's, often very soon before the trains were withdrawn, the footage originated on S-VHS videotape.
Click this link to watch at ‘YouTube’ a new window. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7GZmlk-DmA
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This page last updated 20th September 2017.