ACE Trains Southern Railway Bulleid Malachite Green Coaches
Following Bulleid’s appointment as Southern’s CME in 1937, he became actively involved in the electrification of large swathes of the company’s territory and specifically the development of electric multiple unit coaching stock. However, he later turned his attentions to steam-hauled corridor coaches considering Maunsell’s previous efforts to be solid but somewhat ‘old fashioned’. Bulleid’s coach designs were more or less a complete revolution, ignoring what had gone before and in so doing he created a passenger coach range known for its size and spaciousness and receiving a very favourable reaction from the travelling public.
Bulleid’s new stock was longer at 64.5’ with bow ended bodies. They were timber and steel construction with wide deep windows incorporating sliding ventilator windows within outer steel sheeting. Bulleid coaches incorporated Pullman style gangways in recognition of the extensive arrangement the company had running with Pullman stock. In addition, there was a mix of open and part side corridor accommodation but a specific feature was the introduction of open saloon seating with two-plus-three astride the off-centre passageway.
Bulleid coaches continued the Southern approach of running in the consistent manner of set formations – normally two- three- and four-coach sets although for Bournemouth they were six-coach dining sets with set numbers appearing on brake ends and solebars. They were particularly robust and continued for many years as standard BR stock. The best elements of Bulleid’s coach design – size and layout – was to be incorporated in British Railways (BR) Mk 1 stock.
Bulleid coaches continued to be built in BR Southern Region until 1951. After 1954 they were allowed to be used outside of the former Southern territory. Many were used on express trains from London to Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth and the West of England line from the 1940s until 1967. Only 16 of Bulleid’s stock made the journey to preservation. Swanage Railway owns four with two awaiting restoration. Two Bulleid coaches which traditionally travelled in pairs were restored in BR (S) green livery in 2014 at a cost of £200,000 and are now seen running with the heritage railway’s M7 locomotive.