Two of the more unusual items of rolling stock built by the Southern Railway were the cinema coach and also the 100 inspection Saloon. Marc Models have now produced kits of, or will supply Ready to Run, these unique prototypes.
These models of both coaches and generator vans are in etched brass and have the correct style bogies. A resin cast generator is fitted into the vans that can be viewed through the van windows.
The Cinema coach was built during 1938 utilising an underframe from a fire damaged ‘Thanet’ stock composite No5337. It emerged from Lancing in November 1939 and could seat 60 persons. Initially it was used for wartime staff instructional films and subsequently staff mutual improvement classes.
Numbered 1308s it was paired to a generator van, no 1309s, converted from an ex LSWR 24’ passenger luggage van. The unit lasted some considerable time, well into British Rail and was finally withdrawn in 1973. Whilst in British Rail ownership it was repainted in 1964 with a Blue and White livery close to but not quite the same as Rail Blue and Grey.
The Inspection saloon as it was officially designated and numbered 100s, built in 1946, was in fact a sleeper coach with 11 beds longitudinally placed within individual compartments. There was a central corridor, an attendant’s room and also a shower room, hence the large water tank mounted on the underframe. Each compartment also contained a wash basin and even a trouser press!
Although it was built to Bulleid’s standard 64’6” coach length and body profile the construction of the body was entirely plywood and formed a bit like an upside down boat hull. Even the bogies were unique to this coach mounted on radial pads which was said to give a very smooth ride. Whilst Bulleid remained as CME the coach running paired to its own generator van 97s converted from an ex SECR utility van in 1947 and was also often run along with dining firsts and a saloon brake.
Due to the use of the Cinema coach for staff mutual improvement classes I can justify its occasional appearance on Fisherton Sarum having being shunted into the coal stack siding road allowing the shed staff and loco crew to take part in such classes.
The Inspection Saloon will either trundle past on the main line to and from the West County or will occasionally be seen berthed in the carriage siding.