Darstaed LNER Thompson Teak Coaches
Plans for post war carriage construction had been under active consideration since January 1942 following Gresley’s unexpected and untimely death the previous year. This had been a great shock to everyone in LNER; the company had no immediate successor plans. Edward Thompson was to become a stop-gap CME who held the post until his retirement in 1946 – Arthur Peppercorn then taking over the role as the last CME in the organisation. At the height of the war, LNER had sought government approval from the Emergency Board to establish a ‘Postwar Development Committee’ which was to set out over the next two years the guiding principles for post war all-steel carriages; these coaches were to be very different from what had gone on before. A new corridor 1st no: 1531 was constructed in early 1945 and built of available timber at hand and supplemented with steel. This new style became known as the ‘Newton coach’ which was used in wide-spread passenger consulatation with a questionnaire entitled Design in Comfort to elicit views on future carriage design. But despite canvassing public opinion new post war carriage construction was something of a compromise due to the government focus on exports to earn foreign currency, steel shortages and LNER’s needs to source from external contractors as its York and Doncaster carriage shops had been destoyed by fire.
The ‘compromise’ Thompson stock as they became known were constructed in both timber and steel and were built with a simulated teak finish without lining but clearly showing horizontal graining on the lower panels and vertical graining on the upper panels. Meddling by the Ministry of War Transport led to specification change which invariably resulted in compromise and compounded by material shortages. Interior décor and fittings were not as the planners intended so it was hardly surprising that disappointingly old-fashioned pre war upholstery design (though still comfortable) was reflected in new carriage construction not meeting with universal public acceptance. Building new Thompson stock was slow so large numbers of new coaches did not appear on LNER metals until the standardised BR Mk1 programme from 1951 onwards. Some of the Thompson ideas did make it into the new Mk1s including buckeye couplers and gangways, seat profiles, some interior fittings and the use of anthracite-electric cooking equipment in the first series of catering vehicles.
The Thompson passenger brakes are a perfect match to be run with Darstaed’s new A4, existing ACE A3 and A4s but also with Seven Mills Models B1, B17 and Gresley V2 locomotives.