The Observation Car
built as a dining car for the West Coast Joint Stock.
Built at Wolverton and entered service 1st July 1892
Transfered to the Caledonian Railway in 1905
Through-trains to Scotland on the West Coast route did not initially have dining cars although the morning and afternoon Scottish Expresses would stop en route at Preston for twenty minutes, in which time a full three-course meal would be served in the station dining room to all the passengers!
After many years of discussion about providing on-train dining facilities, in November 1891 the two West Coast companies agreed to add three pairs of purpose built dining cars to the West Coast Joint Stock. Each pair consisted of a kitchen/third class diner coupled to a first class dining saloon, and entered service on lst July 1892.
All of these dining cars were heated by a coal-fired stove and were lit by gas, but were converted to electric light in 1902. They remained as part of the West Coast Joint Stock until the summer of 1905 when they were allocated between the London & North Western Railway and the Caledonian Railway. The Caledonian took two of the diners, and renumbered one of them No. 41.
The sitting room of the Observation Car
No. 41 remained as originally built until 1918 when it was substantially altered and fitted with another (secondhand) chassis obtained from the LNWR. In 1933 it became Saloon No. 45018, used by the Railway's senior engineers to visit their system in comfort and privacy.
After a collision in about 1960 the chassis was replaced by yet another, this time from a scrapped commuter coach (this is why the chassis is dated 1927). At the same time the observation end was fitted. From then until 1972 the carriage was used in Scotland mainly between Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh.
The Observation Car is painted in the shared livery of the West Coast companies, the splendidly named "Plum and Spilt Milk".
The coupe of the Observation Car
Return to the Romance of the Cars.