Darstaed Great Western Railway Toplight Coaches
After the arrival of G.J. Churchward as GWR’s CME, carriage design underwent significant change. Following GWR’s short-lived contemporary experiment with the massive 70’ ‘Dreadnought’ and ‘Concertina’ mainline coaches in the early years of the 20th century, the company adopted a universally acceptable coach design that fitted with the established standards of other railway companies of the time. This development became known as the ‘Toplight’ coach (introduced in 1907) and based on a 57’ length and 9’ width specification.
This style of mainline passenger stock was very distinctive because of upper windows located in the area that would be an eaves panel – these were small ‘lights’ or windows appearing above the main window. They were successful with the public and one of GWR’s most successful ranges of coaches becoming very characteristic of the pre 1923 organisation. Their iconic design (later adopted by other railway companies) was considered to be reminiscent of the Edwardian Age. In 1912 Toplight coaches began to be built with an all-metal covering of steel panels with ‘painted wood-style panelling’. The steel-panelled Toplight became the standard GWR coach design until well after railway grouping when the company realised that many other railway companies had caught up passing them in design and customer comfort.
From 1908 to 1913 Toplight coaches were painted in a dull brown colouring and from 1913 to 1922 they came with a dark red livery similar to SECR’s madder lake scheme. After 1922 the company reintroduced their historical and distinctive chocolate and cream livery for the newly enlarged railway group. The Darstaed GWR Toplight set comes with two brakes which was often the norm for long-routes to the West Country. The GWR Toplight coaches produced in this livery can be run with a variety of locomotives including the Darstaed 2-6-2T and ACE Trains Bird, Bulldog, City and Celebration class locos. Toplight coaches can also be run with Castle class locomotives especially where run on secondary routes. Darstaed’s six-wheeled GWR luggage coach may be run with the Toplight set.