Mystery photo – update


“I found this picture in a recent magazine and the only caption was “N Class”. My first reaction was that it was taken at Faversham station and the train is standing in Platform 3. The large building at the London end of the platform is the main clue plus the chimneys of the station buildings.

The loco is N Class No 31407 which as allocated to Ashford (74A) during the 1950’s and the photo was obviously taken well before electrification reached Faversham in 1959. I would say the photo is pre 1958.

On the headcode disc is “490” which was Ramsgate Diagram 490 and booked for a L Class 4-4-0 loco, so Ramsgate Shed must have borrowed 31407 on the day in question. From a book that I have, Diagram 490 starts as the 07 07 Ramsgate to Gillingham; 10 46 Chatham to Faversham; 13 13 Faversham to Dover Priory; 16 18 Dover Priory to Faversham; 20 05 Faversham to Ramsgate. All local stopping services thus the 3 coach Birdcage set, which Bachmann are going to produce.

Now my obvious choice is that the photo is of the 13 13 Faversham to Dover Priory, but that train was booked to start from Platform 4 as it gave connection of the 11 35 Victoria to Ramsgate service due at Faversham 13 07 – 13 10.

On that basis I reckon the photo is of the 10 46 Chatham to Faversham after its arrival at Faversham. Anyway a nice photo of a complete Birdcage set.”

Thanks to JC for sending this one in… If you can shed some light on the photo and the service it is heading, please leave a comment below.
To follow on from the above “mystery photo” JC sent in the photo below taken from the same position. Interesting how things change but ultimately, stay the same…
Faversham 19.06.13 083

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5 responses to “Mystery photo – update

  • Graeme McCourt

    I cannot add any further information to that already presented. However, it may be of use to somebody that the image can be viewed in much larger size here:

    It appears that it is the standard image Bachmann used for the GraFar announcements and was re-used by Model Rail/RMweb and others when presenting the information. An outside chance might be to approach Bachmann and see if their press team know where they got the image from.


  • Peter Clark

    A lovely photograph! The obvious question is what magazine was it in and what was the magazine’s date? As Birdcage stock was replaced from 1955 onwards by BR Mk.1 3-coach sets in red & cream (how about it, Bachmann?) I suspect the photograph dates from the mid-1950s. I do not recall seeing it on the Dover line after 1956. Otherwise, your suggestions are all feasible. It is worth noting, however, that locomotives and coaches did not stay together throughout their working day, just as guards and loco. crews went their separate ways. I have a few Southern Carriage Working Notices. That for summer 1952 shows the 1.13 p.m. Faversham-Dover Priory formed of an unspecified 4 Cor set off the 12.33 p.m. Chatham-Faversham due at 1.7 p.m. but in the autumn of 1953 it was a 4 Cor set N (Bulleid stock) which had come up on the 8.15 a.m. from Dover Priory, due at 9.10 a.m. and a year later this was a 3 Cor set B (Maunsell Restriction 4 stock) which had arrived on the (by then) 8.7 am. from Dover. I had a later CWN but seem to have mislaid it. In “Southern Region Engine Workings” by C. J. Gammell, Ramsgate loco. diagram 490 shows the engine (an L class 4-4-0, as you say) engaged on carriage shunting at Faversham from 11.20 a.m. to 1.0 p.m. before working the 1.13 to Dover and after arriving at 10.30 on a 9.55 passenger train from Strood. The book does not give a date for the diagram as shown. So, 31407 might have just arrived or been in the middle of a shunt movement or standing ready for departure for Dover. The headcode suggests the latter and it is feasible for the train to have been at platform 3 as, if the down Ramsgate was routed via platform 4, both could have been signalled to leave simultaneously (even though one went before the other if both left on time).
    Happy days . . .
    Peter Clark

  • JC

    Thank you for some very interesting comments, Peter. The picture was extracted from a recent Model Rail magazine in an article about short train formations. There was no caption nor credit to any photographer. I felt I had not seen the photo before nor have I found it, so far, in any of my books featuring South Eastern steam. I considered straightaway it was Faversham and I am still very much of the feeling that it is the 13 13 Faversham to Dover Priory all stations service. However what has deterred me is that the 11 35 Victoria to Ramsgate was a principal service, I believe it conveyed a Pullman car, and assumed it would be signalled via Platform 3 rather than 4. Your point is very valid and could well be correct and therefore this would support my original theory that it is the 13 13 service.
    Anyone else to add anything? I fully share your comment about Bachmann and Mk 1 sets!!

    John Cherry

  • Peter Clark

    Hallo, John! I agree with you that it is probably the 1.13 p.m. to Dover Priory.
    The 11.35 a.m. Victoria-Ramsgate was, of course, the “Kentish Belle” in the summer timetable and the winter version conveyed several Pullmans amongst ordinary stock. In the latter form, the use of Pullmans survived until electrification, something I suspect not everyone realises. Incidentally, you had a query elsewhere many moons ago about a GWR Centenary brake coach being used on a branch line. I am sure I have seen a photograph in either “The Railway Magazine” or “Trains Illustrated” of a train thus formed on the Much Wenlock branch in Shropshire but, try as I have, couldn’t find it! I too think a Centenary brake 3rd is an excellent coach for not very busy branch lines, three compartments more than enough seats for bums and an enormous amount of van accommodation for goods and livestock and other rural commodities. Makes a change from the usual B set or autocoach. I hope Harvey doesn’t mind his website being used for an LCGB reunion! Bob Ratcliffe would know the definitive answer to the N photograph.
    Peter Clark

  • JC

    Hello again Peter

    The only other aspect I would add is the absent of any passengers on the platform which was another factor to which I thought it was an arrival rather a departure. However I still feel it is the 1.13pm departure. Yes, you are right about GWR Centenary brake coach as the picture I referred to was in British Railways Illustrated magazine and of a Taunton – Minehead branch working. I raised the question via the letters page of such vehicles being used on branch workings. Useful because Airfix/Hornby only every produced two types but add a Bachmann Collett or a Hornby Hawksworth and you have a nice branch line train – I am getting off the point now!

    To conclude unless anyone else can add something I feel we should agree it is the 1.13pm departure from Faversham to Dover Priory as the mystery train.

    John Cherry

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