BR 80776 Brake Gangwayed
|BR 80776 Brake Gangwayed|
BR 80776 (2022)
|Built By||BRCW Smethwick|
|Livery||BR Brown & Cream|
|Seats||None (as built)|
|1987-1995||Conversion to wheelchair-accessible saloon|
|1995||'Coach of the year' award|
|2018-19||Conversion to wheelchair diner.|
80776 was originally built as a BR Mark 1 Full Brake (BG) and did not contain passenger seating. The central Guard's area was flanked by large luggage compartments at each end of the carriage. Passengers could pass through the carriage via a gangway along one side.
After preservation in 1986, 80776 was heavily rebuilt with components from Open Seconds and Corridor Seconds to achieve a conversion to a passenger carrying vehicle accommodating up to 16 wheelchair users. Seating was also provided for 15 accompanying passengers, and a disabled access WC was included. In 2018-19 it underwent a further conversion into a "Wheelchair Diner", providing much needed access to the SVR's Dining Services.
80776 was built by BRCW in 1956 to Diagram 711 (NA501) as part of Lot 30140. It entered service in the Eastern region in December 1955, remaining allocated to that region until withdrawal in 1986.
80776 was acquired for preservation by the SVRA Wolverhampton Branch and arrived on the SVR on 25 November 1986 from Bristol.
The Branch's then-Chairman Charles 'Charlie' Greenacre devised a plan to convert it for use as a 'wheelchair passenger van' and carried out much of conversion work himself. During 1987 Charlie undertook the stripping out of Open Second 4054 which it had been decided should be broken for spares after being deemed beyond economic repair. A large quantity of other spares was also acquired from four corridor seconds specifically purchased for accommodation at Bridgnorth[note 1]. By the end of that year Charlie was spending 'hundreds of hours per week' on the conversion at Bridgnorth; early tasks included installing the roof tank from 4054 and moving the guard's compartment door to inside the compartment to give room for a wheelchair to pass by in the corridor.
During 1988 and 1989 Charlie and his 'gang' installed a toilet window and two passenger compartment sized windows on one side of the coach. Two sets of luggage doors were replaced with windows and the next set of doors had windows fitted and the closing mechanism altered. The new interior bulkhead walls were installed and the interior ceilings fitted. By summer 1990 the coach had been repainted in an early maroon livery and a first test run was made behind BR Class 25 D7633 on 18 August 1990 to test the electrical and braking systems. By that time SVR News noted that the project was in the care of 'the two Charlies, Salt and Greenacre'. Charles Greenacre sadly passed away in December 1990 with Charlie Salt taking over responsibility for completion of the project.
By the end of 1981 80776 had now returned to the cattle dock for completion. Outstanding tasks at the time included fitting door locks, construction and upholstering of seats, plumbing to the toilet, and heating. Work on the interior fitting out continued through 1992 and 1993. By the end of that year all construction work was complete, although pressure of work elsewhere meant the project was not complete as had been anticipated.
Tasks in 1994 included installing rebuilt and re-upholstered seats. A series of SVR scenes were installed in picture frames above the eight saloon seats, reminiscent of LNER and BR(E) practice. A commemorative brass plate in memory of Charlie Greenacre was manufactured and fitted in the southernmost vestibule. In October of that year, with final painting still incomplete on one side, it was used for filming an episode of 'Wish You Were Here' (screened in February 1995) featuring holidays for the disabled in Shropshire. The restoration was eventually completed in December 1994.
On 8 April 1995 80776 was declared the joint winner (with the Crich Tramway Museum) of the Association of Railway Preservation Societies' "Coach of the Year" award.
80776 initially carried a 'Saloon' branding and was finished in BR maroon livery until around 2000, when it was repainted for a transfer into the BR Crimson & Cream running set. The 'Saloon' branding was removed after a repaint in 2010-11, as by that time it was no longer used exclusively as a private saloon.
In 2016 80776 was sold to the SVR Charitable Trust for safekeeping and further conversion to a "Wheelchair Diner" providing much needed access to the SVR's Dining Services. In May 2016, the Trust secured a grant of £75,000 from a Department for Transport competition, for a scheme to transform the Railway’s travel offering for disabled passengers. The scheme included the restoration and conversion of 80776 and 4399. After undergoing bogie and brake work, the heavy overhaul and conversion in the Kidderminster paint shop began in April 2018. During summer 2019 both 'accessible carriages' 80776 and 4399 underwent test runs in July and August including a 'thank you' trip in 80776 for disabled youngsters from Penn Hall School who had visited to assist with trial-loading and positioning earlier in the spring. The delivery of both carriages into service was achieved in time to receive the entire DfT grant.
80776 was used in 2019 Christmas services.