For enthusiasts and researchers of the Great Eastern Railway

James Holden Type 9 1898 - 1905 Six a Side Stock


By the time the order for the Type 8 suburban 2nd's had been completed in 1898, work was well advanced on a completely new design of suburban stock - the 6 a side carriage.

This was indeed revolutionary; it introduced for the first time a 9ft wide body and fundamental changes in constructional methods to give vastly improved seating, all within the compass of the same body length of 27ft.

Externally new features included the use of round topped doors, a sight more familiar to travellers on the Metropolitan Railway, recessed 1¾ins into the body sides so that the door handles remained within the 9ft wide loading gauge. The waist panels too were recessed and faced not with the traditional teak but with No 18 SWG galvanised steel, a material also used on the door panels. The lower body panels were still of conventional teak and sub divided by vertical mouldings.

The new carriages appeared in the four familiar types, long adopted for suburban traffic, a 4 compartment 1st (D113), 5 compartment 2nd's (D308) and 3rd's (D408) and a brake 3rd. For the brake 3rd's there was some uncertainty about the space required for luggage and how many doors to provide. Brake 3rd's to diagram 520 had 2 compartments and 3 doors to the luggage compartment, diagram 521 had 3 compartments and two doors while diagram 522 reverted to 2 compartments but with 2 luggage doors. In the event the 2 compartment type found most favour.

Following construction of a 3rd and brake 3rd in 1898 production proceeded at a substantial rate to a total of of 531 by the end of 1903. None were built in 1904 but final orders for 21 2nd's and 49 3rd's placed in 1905 brought the grand total to 601 carriages.

Curiously channel steel underframes had not quite been consigned to history as the first 27 3rd's and 3 brake 3rd's to be built in 1898 and early 1899 had flitched wood frames.

While 4 wheel construction was getting under way a unique train of 8 bogie suburban carriages was completed in 1900 having the same body design. The set had a 4 wheel bogie brake 3rd, 46ft long with 6 compartments, at each end. The remaining 6 vehicles all had 54ft bodies carried on 6 wheel bogies, comprising an 8 compartment 1st (D114), a 1st/2nd composite (D213), a pair of 10 compartment 2nd's (D309) and a pair of 3rd's to diagram 411.

The set found permanent employment on the Enfield line and must have come as a revelation to the average season ticket holder who would have found a bogie carriage in itself a novelty let alone a 12 wheeler. The set was very heavy, compared to the usual 15 or 16 coach set of 4 wheeled six a side stock and the venture was not repeated. However, it cannot be said to have been a failure as it saw no less than 48 years service before withdrawal.

It is worth recording that Holden, in devising the 6 a side design, scored a considerable success with the suburban passenger in securing a greater seating capacity and earned the gratitude of the directors and shareholders in achieving all this at minimal extra cost. Holden then turned his attention to the existing suburban carriages of which he widened 710 examples, built between 1882 and 1898, during 1902 and 1904, to bring them up to the same capacity as the new vehicles. This was attained at the modest outlay of £30 per carriage and postponed for some years the replacement of the older stock.

James Holden Type 10A 1898 - 1906 Clerestories with 8ft 6ins wide bodies


Although at the turn of the century attention had been focussed on suburban carriage design and construction steady progress was also being made with main line carriage development and it is now necessary to return to 1898 to examine what was happening.

In that year a bogie supper saloon (D9) was completed, 48ft 3ins in length, with bulb L steel frames and a clerestory roof. The body was 8ft 6ins wide and the interior height of 8ft 5ins was achieved by the use of the clerestory but the carriage sides to eaves were still to the same dimensions as those already seen on Types 7A and 7B and this held good for all Type 10A and 10B stock.

This was the fourth catering vehicle on the GER but unlike the previous examples this was intended for use as a self contained dining carriage. Thus it did not have corridor connections and was employed initially for late night theatre goers travelling from London to Colchester, economically returning to Liverpool Street the following morning serving breakfasts.

In the following year four sets of 3 carriage dining trains were built. These were a further improvement on the concept of the earlier dining sets but using larger capacity vehicles. The 55ft restaurant car (D18) was flanked by 3rd dining saloon (D412), also 55ft long, and a 48ft 3ins 1st saloon to diagram 112. In 1903 a further three 3rd class restaurant cars appeared to diagram 414 which were virtually identical to the initial 4 but with minor internal differences.

These were obviously regarded by the GER as rather special and preceded by a couple of months the 10 diagram 211 arc roofed composites noted above. Although unrecorded in the minutes, subsequent construction suggests that a decision had been taken to provide clerestory roofs on future main line stock, which was mostly built to a length of 48ft 3ins. The clerestory certainly gave a more spacious feel for the passenger but it was a costly refinement compared to the simple arc profile formerly used for all but the most prestigious stock. However, the GER had established a sound financial footing and as the traffic growth experienced in recent years appeared, at the time, to be set to continue so developing extra refinements and passenger comforts were a natural progression.

Because resources were principally devoted to building suburban 6 a side stock the range of main line clerestory types turned out to be rather limited. The main achievement was to build a total of 120 48ft 3ins semi-corridor composites built between 1900 and 1906 allocated between two identical diagrams 212 and 231. Although the clerestory imparted an imposing appearance the internal layout was identical to the arc roofed bogie composites to diagram 211 built in 1899.

In 1901 a solitary variation emerged (D214) embodying an internal layout suggested by John Foster, a director. This dispensed with the luggage compartment and instead of the semi-corridor arrangement of the diagram 212 stock two pairs of lavatories were accessed from only 4 of the 6 compartments. By this means 6 more passengers were accommodated but as no further examples followed it was clear that the ability to offer all passengers lavatory accommodation was seen as being of greater importance.

The only other examples of Type 10A bogie stock were two saloon carriages built in 1904. These were a 1st, diagram 23 and an 3rd, diagram 22, both designed to cater for the increasing demand from organised groups who wished to travel together in a predominantly open carriage offering lavatory facilities.

By now it might be thought that the 3rd class passenger on the main line was being provided with new bogie stock but this was not the case. In 1900 and 1901 two batches of 3rd class 6 wheel clerestory carriages appeared with 34ft 6ins bodies and the traditional pair of lavatories accessible only from the adjoining compartments. These were to diagrams 413 and 423 but again there were no discernible differences between the two and but for their clerestory roofs were identical to the diagram 407 arc roofed carriages built until the previous year. The last 6 wheel clerestory carriages were six 3rd class saloons having a single open saloon for 35 passengers with a pair of toilets served from a lobby. Internally they were similar to the diagram 16 saloons built in 1896/97.

James Holden Type 10B 1906 Clerestories with 9ft 0ins wide bodies

The final order for clerestory carriages was for 10 3rd class semi-corridor 3rd class carriages with 50ft bodies. These embodied several new variations, a body 6ins wider than previously seen at 9ft, doors recessed into the body sides and the lower body panels vertically sub divided with mouldings. These represented the sole examples of Type 10B.

James Holden Type 11 1901 and 1904 Hook of Holland Set


In 1901 a most odd vehicle was built, an officers saloon to diagram 7 with a 34ft 6ins body but carried on bogies rather than the familiar 6 wheel underframe. It combined two design features not seen together before, a clerestory roof and round topped doors of the same style being used on the 6 a side suburban stock. Perhaps not surprisingly it underwent major alteration, first to lengthen the body to 50ft and then for good measure the roof was rebuilt to an elliptical profile thus turning it into a respectable looking vehicle.

It might have been expected that this saloon, with its curious combination of main line and suburban carriage characteristics would remain unique, but this was not so.

It will be recalled that the GER had built its first set of carriages for a specific service in 1891 in the form of a 3 coach dining train for the Harwich - York service, followed by the Continental trains of 1896. The practice was continued in 1904 by the completion of a single train with first and second class accommodation for the Hook of Holland service from Liverpool Street to Parkeston Quay.

The bogie carriages in this set again embodied the unique combination of clerestory roof, the current standard for main line stock but with round topped doors, recessed 1¾ins into the body sides, a feature associated with the humble suburban 6 a side carriage. Body width was 9ft 0ins and all vehicles, including the three 6 wheelers in the formation, had corridors. Steam heating also made its first appearance in this train.

The bogie vehicles were to two body lengths, the composite restaurant car (D3) and first restaurant (D117) had 50ft bodies while the remainder of the bogie vehicles were 48ft 6ins long. These consisted of a pair of 1st's (D118), a restaurant 2nd (D310) and 4 corridor 2nd's (D311). At each end of the set was a 6 wheel brake (D523) and at one end only a 6 wheel brake 2nd (D524), all with 32ft bodies.

Some expense was spared by installing gas lighting in the brake van in preference to the electric light enjoyed by passengers in the remainder of the train. All the 6 wheel carriages displayed evidence of the constant desire by the GER to economise by having the same low elliptical roof profile as the clerestory bogie vehicles but omitting the expensive raised portion.

James Holden Type 12 1906 York and Harwich Train


The next service to receive attention was the York to Harwich which received a pair of trains in mid 1906. Again bogie stock lengths were a mixture of 48ft 3ins and 50ft with a solitary 32ft 6 wheel brake van; it seemed the GER still could not resist including a non bogie vehicle in its trains, however prestigious. A revised body width of 8ft 9ins was introduced and the doors although still recessed into the body sides reverted to the conventional square topped type. The most enduring feature of the set was the roof design which introduced the elliptical profile for the first time. This profile, in combination with the long established door heights, had the advantage of providing a superior interior headroom, of stronger construction but cheaper to build and maintain than the clerestory. Steam heating was again fitted, including the 6 wheel brake van.

The 50ft stock comprised a restaurant car with a 1st class dining saloon (D25), a 1st restaurant (D119) and 4 composites (D222). The 48ft 6ins stock consisted of a composite (D221) and brake composite (D225) of which an extra vehicle was built, a 3rd (D415), a restaurant 3rd (D416) and two brake 3rd which although allocated two separate diagrams (D526 and D534) were in fact identical. The 6 wheel brake, to diagram 525 was effectively a bogie carriage in miniature with a through corridor and connections at each end.

The Holdens and Hill Type 13A The 50ft 0in Carriage 1906 – 1917


By the middle of 1906 the need for additional and replacement suburban stock had been satisfied and the two prestigious Continental services had been equipped with completely new trains, thus attention again turned to building stock for main line services.

In the previous October orders had been placed for 10 bogie 3rd's and two varieties of composite. In March 1906, as already described, the 3rd's appeared as clerestory roofed vehicles (D417) but progress with both classes of composite took second place to the York-Harwich train. Consequently their completion was delayed until August and although on past performance they should have had the clerestory roof in the event they too had elliptical roofs to the same profile as the York train vehicles but with the square topped doors flush with the body sides. The body length was 50ft and once again the same doorway height was retained; the lower panels, like those on the clerestory 3rd's, were sub divided by vertical mouldings.

That the adoption of the elliptical roof was a late decision is confirmed by the general arrangement drawings for both composites which show clerestory roofs. The drawings are endorsed "Built with elliptic roofs" and this action marked the introduction of the design which most people would regard as the 'typical GER bogie carriage'. Diagram 224 was a development of the layout seen in the 48ft 3ins clerestory composite (D231) with internal corridor giving access to lavatories while in the diagram 223 carriages an extra 3rd class compartment replaced the passengers luggage compartment. Both types lacked corridor gangways but had electric lighting fitted. The next type to be ordered to the same design was a corridor lavatory 3rd, diagram 419 of which 20 had appeared by early 1907.

Further progress with the new 50ft stock was delayed by the building of the celebrated Norfolk Coast Express, the successor to the Cromer Express and perhaps the best known GER train of this period. Two sets entered service in June 1907 and deservedly received great publicity which also gave the impression that the set was the first to feature the new elliptical roofed 50ft stock. As already seen the first vehicles to this design appeared the best part of a year earlier in August 1906 and in reality the noteworthy feature was that although it was a splendid train the high standards it embodied were equalled in all the subsequent 50ft stock.

A total of 24 carriages to 8 diagrams were provided for the two sets. Each set comprised a dining saloon (D26), a 1st restaurant car (D120), a 3rd restaurant car (D420), a 1st corridor (D121), a pair of composites (D226), two corridor 3rds, three brake 3rds (D527), necessary because of splitting the train into 3 sections, and a bogie brake van (D528), the first of its kind.

All the types built for the Norfolk Coast Express sets were subsequently multiplied in future years for the best main line services. Constructed to the same standard of design and interior finish these carriages were built well into the war years to a total of no less than 32 different diagrams. By the end of construction in 1917, the latter orders much delayed by the war, a total of 487 carriages had been built. The last 10 vehicles completed were brake 3rd's, 8 built to diagram 541 but the last 2 (D546) were for the royal train although in all design respects of standard construction.

Although 32 diagrams were allocated to the 50ft stock the differences between some diagrams was slight and as with Holden's 6 wheelers some 20 years earlier a few basic designs accounted for a large proportion of the whole. The most common was the corridor 3rd (D418 and 419) which totalled 142 examples when construction finished in 1914, these were followed numerically by the 3 compartment brake 3rd (D527, 529, 537 and 541), totalling 112 examples. The next in line were the luggage composites (D226 and 227) totalling 79 examples replaced by a modified design (D235) of which 42 were built.

All these carriages had corridors with gangways and lavatory accommodation but after the completion of the Norfolk Coast Express sets the use of gas lighting again predominated and fitting electricity as a matter of course did not resume until about 1911.

For the Southend service 20 3rds were built (D430), two saloons were also constructed, a 1st officers (D20) in 1909 and a directors saloon (D29) in 1912. Although channel steel frames had been used exclusively since 1899 for carriage stock the GER still favoured timber frames for its best saloons and these were no exception.

The remaining bogie carriages not specifically mentioned were all built in quite small numbers, for example, bogie brake vans numbered only 19 but appeared under four differing diagrams 528, 535, 539 (which did not have gangways) and 543, while corridor 1st were quite a rare breed with only 12 examples, apart from those for the Norfolk Coast Express, being divided equally between diagrams 121 and 122.

There continued to be a need for further brake vans for which a 6 wheel vehicle was adequate and thus two designs were built having the same profile and characteristics as the bogie stock but without gangways. The 32ft version was built in 1908 and 1909 (D536), followed by a similar design in 1911 (D540) but to a length of 34ft 6ins.

Stephen Holden and Hill Type 13A 1911 - 1920 The 54ft 0in Suburban Carriage


By the end of 1909 the main line stock was in good form, some 385 bogie carriages had entered service during the previous 12 years and a high proportion of James Holden's 6 wheel carriages were less than 20 years old. By contrast the suburban stock was again lagging behind; the 4 wheeler reigned supreme with the honourable exception of the solitary 8 coach bogie set of 1900. No new stock had been built since 1905 and more alarmingly over a third of the 1500 or so carriages allocated to the suburban services were now more than 25 years old.

As hinted at above the appointment of Stephen Holden in succession to his father did not interrupt the continuity of carriage design and his answer to the suburban problem was the introduction of bogie stock. The designs conformed to the external appearance and dimensions set by the 50ft main line stock but to the increased length of 54ft and a body width 1 inch wider at 8ft 10ins. This length was, of course, conveniently twice that of the time honoured standard 27ft carriage and the accommodation in the new 8 coach sets was directly comparable to that provided in a standard 16 coach train of 4 wheelers.

The first new 8 coach train entered service in 1911 and by the outbreak of war in 1914 sufficient carriages had been built to form 14 trains, all allocated to the Loughton line which, as befitting a superior locality, always received the best available carriage stock. Remarkably another train was completed during 1917 and another two in 1919, all to the original 1911 specifications.

Like the earlier 4 wheel suburban stock the new bogie vehicles comprised 1st's (D104), 2nd's (D300), 3rd's (D428) and brake 3rd's (D542). There were, in addition composite carriages over which there was some initial indecision in the attempt to get the right balance of accommodation in each set train. Diagram 237 was a 1st/3rd (D236), but only 2 were built and six 2nd/3rd composites appeared in 1913 and 1914 (D238) but it was the 1st/2nd variety (D237) also introduced in 1911 which provided the long term answer.