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Historic British Rail Mk1 Carriages

Mostly Looking Inside Mk1 Carriages Showing Different Seating Layouts
Compartment And Open - And Some Other Features

Some images come from trains which were in daily passenger service when the photographs were taken, other images come from Mk1 carriages which can be found at heritage centres / living museums / are used on leisure-market services that still ply mainline railway tracks.

To avoid errors from guessing, the 'Class' numbers of the multiple-unit trains are only quoted where known.

These first images come from refurbished MK1 based multiple-unit trains which until approximately 2005 used to operate on Southern Region third rail electric services to the south of London.

British Mk1 EMU
Designed for longer distance express services this carriage has three passenger doors on this side,
compartment seating at the front and open seating at the back; the frosted window is for a toilet.

Passenger Compartment Side Corridor On A British Mk1 Train.
The side corridor walkway.

first class Passenger Compartment British Mk1 Train.
First class, with three aside seating, fold-up armrests and individual reading lamps.

Standard class Passenger Compartment British Mk1 Train.
Standard class with no armrests and four aside bench type seating.

Only some carriages on these trains included compartments, others had 'open' seating, as seen in the next few images.
Again, these show the trains in their final format.

Open Style Passenger Seating On A British Mk1 Train.
Individual seating in a refurbished open MK1 based carriage. The seats are arranged in bays around large picture windows.

Open Style Passenger Seating On A British Mk1 Train.
Note the ledge type table under the windowsill, these were ideal for a cup of coffee (from the refreshment trolley or retail coffee outlet at the station, as regrettably in the latter years these trains no longer had proper buffet carriages), but not much else. This also shows how at just 25 inches (635 mm) above the floor the lower window sill was low enough for a seated child to see out of the window - a design feature that no longer exists with present-day trains.

British Mk1 Train.
These trains were built with a small section dedicated to goods / freight (accessed via the double doors) and next to it a guards compartment. The guard's door has full length handles and below it are some steps so that when stabled in sidings the train could be accessed from a trackside walkway.

The need for goods areas is because when Mk1 carriages were first built passenger trains often also carried parcels, newspapers and mail bags (Royal Mail). In addition the space was used for heavy luggage, perambulators, accompanied dogs and passengers who could not access the normal passenger areas, which typically means people who used wheelchairs. This must have been extra unpleasant in the winter - as this part of the train was not heated.

Goods section British Mk1 Train.
In their latter years the carriage of freight was discontinued (for instance: the express parcels service ceased trading) but the space became an invaluable asset to passengers who wished to travel with their bicycles, this being a passenger-friendly feature which very few modern trains offer.

To minimise dwell times at stations multiple unit trains used on (outer) suburban services typically had doors at most seating bays.

See caption for picture information.
Especially at terminus stations (as here) few passengers bothered to shut the door when leaving the train.
The closely spaced doors identify this as being an outer suburban train.
I feel sure that this was filmed at Charing Cross station. The train is in Connex livery, although I'm not sure whether it was operated by Connex SouthEastern or Connex South Central - Connex used the same livery on both their franchises.

See caption for picture information.
Inside the Connex outer suburban train seen above. These had comfortable 3+2 high-backed seating and luggage racks over the seat backs.

See caption for picture information.
An outer suburban train in South West Trains livery which is on a siding track (so not in passenger service) at Clapham Junction. Designed for short dwell times on suburban services this carriage has passenger doors alongside each second class seating bay plus two doors to the side corridor which serves the first class compartments. This train is a type known as Class 423/4 VEP (Vestible Electro Pneumatic).

See caption for picture information.
Inside a South West Trains outer suburban train - although the seating was the same as the Connex train, SWT used red upholstery.

Small Fleet Dedicated To The London - Gatwick Airport Service

In 1978 British Rail converted 12 VEP units into Class 427 4VEG (Vestible Electro Gatwick) for use by passengers between London Victoria station and Gatwick Airport. Although intended for airport passengers these trains were open to all passengers. To make it easier for airport passengers to identify them the trains had a dayglo coloured band at cantrail (originally orange / yellow, later green) level with the words 'London-Gatwick express service' and a special BR symbol and aircraft logo. In addition an airplane symbol plus the text RapidCity Link Gatwick - London were added on the coach sides near to the train driver's cabs. Internally this small fleet of trains were fitted with extra luggage space.

Between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport stations the 4VEG's were attached to other trains but at Gatwick Airport they remained in the station so that passengers travelling to the airport did not have to rush to alight and passengers travelling from the airport to Central London could board at their leisure. After the 1984 commencement of the dedicated Gatwick Express premium service (which also charged special [ie: higher!] fares) the 4VEG units were converted back into VEP units.

4VEG and VEP.
A Gatwick 4VEG and a 4VEP. The dayglo band is not easy to see, the best way to discern this is by
comparing the 4VEG and VEP units in the area between the roofline and the top of the grey livery.

Railair Gatwick train.
Another 4VEG, possibly at Gatwick Airport station. On this train the orange dayglo cantrail stripe is easier to see, but the branding on the body side is missing. This photograph was taken using a 126 Instamatic camera which I got when I was a child and stopped using when I switched to 35mm photography.

Living Museums and Railtours

The rest of this page shows MK1 carriages which are either located at living museums / heritage centres or are used on leisure based railtours / private charter services.

Many of the living museum railways use former British Rail MK1 carriages, especially those designed for locomotive haulage. This would be because the last of these passenger carriages only reached the end of their economic lives in the 1990's and prior to being scrapped after their replacement with newer rolling stock they were frequently offered for sale - just in case a buyer could be found. For many of the leisure industry railway companies the ability to purchase some of these carriages and give them second lives was just the ticket!

The living museums bought the redundant passenger carriages for several reasons, these included the simple ability to boost their income by attracting paying visitors through offering them a short ride on a moving train / as static exhibits, a source of spare parts for rolling stock they already owned, and to preserve a rare type of rolling stock for future generations to see.

Suburban / Urban Carriages

BR compartment carriage.
British Railways Mk1 Brake Suburban (BS) non-corridor compartment carriage No. E43157 painted in maroon livery. This carriage was built for locomotive hauled local (urban / suburban) trains out of Kings Cross station. It has six compartments which extend across the full width of the carriage plus (at the far end) a compartment for the train guard and a small area for goods (parcels goods, etc).

compartment on railway carriage.
A side view showing the door and two windows which form one compartment.

inside railway carriage compartment.
Inside one of the compartments.
These have fully upholstered, deep sprung, bench type seats.
Next to the windows can be seen some controls for the winter heating.

BR compartment carriage.
As previously stated, one end of the carriage is reserved for the train's guard and goods (parcels goods, etc).
The latter is accessed via twin doors, one of which has a window.

This is the same carriage as seen above, as seen from the other side.
It is painted in crimson lake and cream (or blood and custard) livery.

The above is one of several passenger carriages seen on this page which nowadays can be found at the East Anglia Railway Museum. On most days these are static exhibits, although there are some days when moving trains are operated as well.

The EARM paints the different sides of some of its rolling stock in different liveries - this is done to show a wider range of the liveries they carried during their time in daily passenger service.

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.
The EARM website is at ..

Mk1 Compartment Carriages Intended For Longer Distance Trunk Routes

British Mk1 CK compartment carriage.
British Railways Mk1 composite compartment (CK) carriage No.W16237 in InterCity blue grey livery.
There are four first class compartments which seat 24 passengers and three standard class compartments which seat either 18 or 24 passengers. Possibly the standard class seating would have been designated as third class, however the latter was abolished in 1956.

Inside first class compartment British Mk1 train
Inside a first class compartment with additional reading lamps. For greater comfort each passenger has their own seat cushion.

Inside standard class compartment British Mk1 train.
Inside a standard 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. CK carriages for the other regions had folding arms that when lowered reduced their seating capacity by one passenger per bench seat (from four to three passengers). Folding arms are seen in a different carriage below.

The above is one of several passenger carriages seen on this page which nowadays can be found at the Epping - Ongar Railway. This brings back to life 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.
The EOR website is at ..

Inside standard class compartment British Mk1 train.
Three aside second class compartment in a British Railways Mk1 composite compartment (CK) carriage. 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.

Inside first class compartment British Mk1 train.
A first class compartment in the same carriage.
Hmm, garish upholstery - and definitely three aside seating, even when the armrests have been folded up!

British Mk1 railway carriage compartment heater control.
A closer view of the heating controls, albeit from a different Mk1 passenger carriage - but included here because it 'fits in'.

side corridor door CK British Mk1 carriage
Composite carriages have a door in the corridor designed to leave passengers in no doubt about the class status of that part of the train and therefore reduce the likelihood of them accidentally (but not purposely!) travelling in the wrong part of the train.

reading lights passenger compartment British Mk1 carriage
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!

side corridor British Mk1 brake composite carriage
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.

side view chocolate cream brake composite British Mk1 carriage
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.

BSK Mk1 carriage
BSK (Corridor Brake Second) carriage No. M35469 in crimson lake and cream livery at the front of a train about to embark on a leisure-market day-trip. The railways liked placing 'brake' vehicles (which have handbrakes) at train ends as a safety measure in case a coupling failed and the train became divided - especially on a gradient. Whilst the normal braking system would stop the separated portion of the train, there was a concern that over time the effectiveness of the brakes might wear off, so a handbrake was seen as the best way to be sure that the carriages did not start to roll downhill.

This image shows the carriage information which details things such as its physical dimensions, the lines over which it is allowed to travel (route restriction), the carriage type, its maximum permitted speed, when it last had a major service / inspection, the train braking and heating systems with which it is compatible...

Mk1 Open Carriages Intended For Longer Distance Trunk Routes

Originally Mk1 vehicles featured a timber veneer interior finish, however this later changed to a laminate finish.

MK1 TSO seating
British Railways Mk1 TSO (tourist second open) carriage (number unknown) with 2+2 bench type seating which is now used on leisure services which travel on the mainline railway network.

MK1 SO seating
British Railways Mk1 SO (second open) carriage No.4809 which has 1+2 style of seating. This is now owned by the Epping Ongar Railway.

Mk1 TSO carriage E3779 maroon livery
British Railways Mk1 TSO carriage No.E3779 at the East Anglia Railway Museum.

Mk1 TSO carriage E3779 crimson cream livery
Another view of the British Railways Mk1 TSO carriage No.E3779 at the East Anglia Railway Museum.
As the door is open it is possible to go inside.

inside Mk1 TSO carriage E3779
The wooden veneer and comfortable seating inside No.E3779.

inside Mk1 TSO carriage E3779.
Even the tables comprise polished wood.

Common Features

Mk1 carriage secondary door lock
The top of a Mk1 carriage door - this is from a carriage which is still used on the mainline railway network, albeit on leisure services.
Most of the signage is modern, however the warning not to lean out of the window is possibly an original historic feature.
The top of the window has a sprung metal clip which engages in slots on either side of the window opening.

Nowadays secondary door locks are a legal requirement as it lessons the chance of the doors being opened at the wrong time (eg: whilst the train is in motion) which sometimes resulted in passengers falling out. This could happen because sometimes the door would not be closed properly before station departure. Another reason for these extra locks is to reduce the likelihood of passengers opening the door (and potentially hitting a passenger standing on the platform) before the train has stopped when arriving at a station. The on-board train staff are supposed to close the locks immediately before station departure and supervise their opening when arriving at stations.

Mk1 carriage window
The bottom of a Mk1 carriage door - the window 'droplights' are supported by a spring-loaded lazytongs mechanism inside the lower part of the door.

toilet compartment train
It serves no purpose explaining where these toilet compartment views were taken.

See caption for picture information.
This view shows how the frosted windows allow light to enter, although there is also electric lighting which is needed at night and when travelling through tunnels. This light is over the hand basin, the ceiling lighting was not photographed.

See caption for picture information.
Inside the same toilet compartment showing the hand basin. This view comes from a carriage which is still in active service and in addition to the no smoking sign (which possibly is required by law) the present owner has decided to fit a liquid soap dispenser. It is more likely that in olden days there would have been a soap tablet which would be there for all passengers to use.

railway hand basin Mk1
A different carriage, a different style of hand basin. The blue disc on the cold water tap is missing.

toilet compartment Mk1
Outside two toilet compartments. These are located at one end of the carriage / next to (station platform) entrance doors.
As this carriage has two toilets they are located on opposite sides of the carriage.
Walking past the toilets leads to the corridor connection to the next carriage.

communication cord
What was called the communication cord. Pulling this stopped the train. To discourage passengers from doing this a fine would be levied if it was used when there was not an emergency situation that required the train to make an unscheduled stop.

Also note the sign about the opening window. The reason for this is that the windows featured an external aerofoil so that when partially open passengers could benefit from draught-free ventilation.

sliding window Mk1 British carriage
One of the windows which if only opened a little will create ventilation but not a draught.
In this view the window is seen fully open, so it did create a draught, albeit only when the train was travelling between stations.

buffet car Mk1 British carriage
Some living museums run trains which include preserved buffet carriages where passengers can buy light refreshments. Many passengers on the mainline railways might have preferred that when these buffet carriages were withdrawn they had been replaced with new ones offering similar facilities!

Preserved Multiple-Unit Mk1 Train

The London Transport Museum (LTM) Heritage Train comprises a former Class 438 British Railways 4TC (Trailer Control) multiple unit train. At each end of the train is a DTSO / driving trailer second open carriage (Nos. 76297 & 76324), between them is TFK / trailer first corridor (No. 71163) and TBSK trailer brake second corridor (No.70283). Originally these Mk 1 carriages were locomotive-hauled, they were converted to multiple-unit format by BR at York Works in two batches in 1966-1967 and 1974. In this format they were primarily used on services between London Waterloo, Bournemouth and Weymouth. Between London and Bournemouth they operated in push-pull mode with a high power (3200 HP) 4REP four carriage electric multiple-unit attached at the London end of the train, whilst over the non-electrified line between Bournemouth and Weymouth they would operate in push-pull mode with a Class 33/1 diesel locomotive at the Weymouth end of the train (and without the 4REP units).

Operating in 'push-pull' mode means that sometimes the traction unit pulled the train from the front and at other times it pushed the train from the back. The train driver however was always at the front of the train. For these service the drivers used the 4TC cabs at the front of the train when travelling from London to Bournemouth and when travelling from Weymouth to Bournemouth. In opposite directions the train was driven from the cabs in either the 4REP unit (Bournemouth - London) or the diesel locomotive (Bournemouth - Weymouth).

Although sometimes used at living museums the LTM Heritage 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!

As an aside, these photographs also demonstrate what was a common feature of varnished teak carriages, this being that there were often variations in shade (hue, colour depth) between the wooden panels which formed the carriage sides. This was because they come from a natural product of different ages.

Metropolitan Heritage Train.
A side view showing the faux vynil wrap, the guards area on the left and (through the window) an empty compartment.

Class 438 British Railways 4TC.
The side corridor plus some of the compartments can be seen through the window and open doorway.

DTSO Class 438
The driving cab end of driving trailer second open (DTSO) carriage No. 76324 and view of a seating bay through an open door.

inside Metropolitan Heritage Train compartment.
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.

train compartment door
Standing with my back to the outside window, looking towards the side corridor.

London 2012 Olympic paralympic poster.
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 Metropolitan Heritage Train.
Inside an 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.

Metropolitan Heritage Train seating bay
Seating bay with window and table.

Metropolitan Heritage Train door
Not all seating bays have tables. Others have doors - as seen here. Note the almost fully open window and the three ochre coloured metal bars across the window. Their purpose is to prevent passengers from sticking their heads out and looking along the side of the train.

film projector icon A film which comprises a medley of Southern Region Mk1 electric multiple unit trains, both at stations and when riding inside,
has been placed on the ‘YouTube’ film / video website and can either be watched above or in a new window by clicking this link: .

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This page last updated 31st December 2016.
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