North British Railway Invalid Saloon N0.461

Accession number: 10025
Acquired: 1972
Location: Reserve Collection Building
Built: 1919, NBR Cowlairs Works, Glasgow

Background Information

Before modern roads and motor vehicles, the railway was the only effective way of transporting hospital patients, invalids or those with physical disabilities, over long distances.

Most railway companies had special carriages, built or adapted for this purpose. As well as first and third class compartments and lavatories at either end, providing separate accommodation for paying passengers and for their servants, there was a central open saloon for passengers in wheelchairs, with unusual one-and-a-half door openings for access by stretchers or wheelchairs. The body is 49ft 8ins long, which was the length adopted by the NBR for the first of its bogie coaches in 1889, and which continued as standard until 1906, when the length of new coaches was increased to 58ft 4ins.

It is known that construction was first proposed in 1914, but delayed, presumably be wartime contingencies, until 1919. By then, it may be presumed that the company had some need of invalid transport, but we have found no records of the use of the Saloon in traffic in NBR days. It was renumbered by the London & North Eastern Railway as No.32283 at about 1924, and at some point the Westinghouse air brake was removed. The coach was withdrawn from service by British Railways in December 1951, and would have been cut up if it had not been converted in 1957 for use as an Inspection Saloon for company officials.

This rebuilding, at Cowlairs, saved the vehicle, but the interior was completely altered, and two saloons created, one at each end, with kitchen and lavatory accommodation in the centre. The corridor connections were removed and inspection windows were fitted at both ends. At this time, the coach was renumbered SC320577, and continued in service until withdrawal in 1972. After acquisition, SRPS removed the inspection windows from one end, and re-instated the pullman adaptor gangway, after which the coach was used as an observation saloon at the end of SRPS Railtour trains.