Robert Garnett's double coupé plan on the London & Birmingham

The double coupé plan was for a short time the ultimate railway carriage design before the accidents showed up a literal fatal flaw...

5/10/20232 min read

"Those were the best days of my life, oh yeah. Back in the summer of '69, uh-huh" so sang husky rock icon Bryan Adams back in June 1985. Had Mr Adams found himself travelling on the London & Birmingham Railway back in the summer of 1839, nestled in one of the well furnished end compartments of a double-ended coupé, he may well have entitled his anthem 'Back in coupé number 69', for this was the number given to the only double coupé in service with the L&B at that time. We can be sure he would easily have afforded the price of a ticket to travel in such luxury but he would have been one of the few passengers blessed with such a fiscally advantageous status. Perhaps this is the main reason they had only one such vehicle, leaving aside for one moment passengers understandable reticence about being hurled head first through a plate glass window in the event of an unplanned collision with the preceding train.

Whilst I fully intended continuing with one of the many modelling tasks in hand this week, I could not help but be distracted by the prospect of adding No.69 to the fleet for Coventry. The sides for this carriage are in fact repurposed First Class carriage sides from an early and disappointing etch which turned out to be missing 1mm from the left hand end of each body. I managed to build one complete First from these etches which turned out very well; however, it took a lot of extra work to rectify and the prospect of making more in this way did not appeal. Therefore, corrections were made to the artwork at the skilled hand of Mike Waldron and a second set of etches were commissioned. In the meantime, what to do with the dodgy ones?

Above - Fig.1 shows how four sides were trimmed at each end for the coupé and cut to the side of one of the doors to be spliced back together creating a double coupé with two full compartments in the centre. Two roofs (see Fig.2) were also modified by filing off the seat supports at each end and cutting next to one of the roof strips to be spliced back together in the same way as the sides.

Right - Fig.2. Window frames have now been added and the next step will be to fit the droplights in the doors and begin working out how to scratch-build the coupé ends with their distinctive large windows. There is some debate over the wheelbase of this vehicle given that it was possible that it may not have fitted onto the carriage turntables at either Euston or Birmingham. As a double-ended carriage that might not be such an issue but it would still require marshalling between arrival and departure platforms. Perhaps that's another reason for only building one!