As the GCR RST is planning its restorations of the four big “Barnums”, some interesting factors have emerged which will affect or assist the four remaining of the type: (See Barnum story – Articles)

The first is that Keith Stimpson has come forward with an ability which is already being utilised to transfer all the drawings that we have, original GCR and those of the North Yorks Barnum group to electronic record. The second factor is that these records will go forward in time to the National Rail Museum to assist the restoration of the NRM Barnum in store at Ruddington but ear marked for the new Museum annex at Leicester North, due for completion at the end of the decade.

We are all probably well aware of the materials used to upholster the seats in the BR Mk. 1 carriages that ply the GCR line. Some will be able to spell out the colours, even the weave. No such luck when the restorers start to consider the the original specifications of the exteriors or interiors of the early GCR carriages surviving – because there are no samples of the originals left. The formal GCR/LNER archive went up in flames in the 1940/41 blitz when bombs rain down on the Marylebone goods yard in which the comprehensive records of the railway company were stored.

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In fact, so far, just two monochrome photographs have been secured, that of the 1910-built Barnum’s interior as a saloon and as a dining car. Even these shots might have been taken in the LNER era. The same covers the lack of photography of the earlier main line and suburban stock, no black and white, and certainly no colour references. However, our expert Roger Penson and his team have uncovered some samples of cloth in the Suburban no.799, overlooked when the interiors were stripped out in the 1950s. These are being closelyexamined to determine their age.

To assist the project, Keith Stimpson is transferring all the existing Barnum drawings that the Trust possesses and has now produced enough information to enable him to construct a one quarter scale model of the classic back-to-back seating to be re-created – so enabling the quantities and sizes of cushioning, cover materials to be assessed. As the Barnums were jig built the research findings are applicable to all four remaining, all of which are in our care. But much now depends on a session that Roger Penson is leading, first with the National Rail Museum at York and then with the Public Records Office in Kew.

As Roger says: “While it will be some time before we get to the point of building up the interiors – even of Barnum no.228 – we are still concerned to get as near to an authentic interior as we can, for each and every vehicle. This is borne out by the rightness of the interior of our classic 6-wheel carriage and its beautifully finished seating for 50 passengers. Our research must be ongoing.”

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