North London Railway 1st class No 111

North London Railway 1st class No 111


The North London Railway was one of the smallest of the pre-grouping railway companies, with just 13 route miles to its name. However, these led westwards from London's East and West India Docks and intersected the lines of the Greast Eastern, the Great Northern, the Midland, the London & North Western and the Great Western and the London & South Western. With passenger facilities at Fenchurch Street and later Broad Street in London, and with a complex of physical connections and negotiated running powers, the NLR came to operate over 50 route miles, serving such places as Richmond, Potters Bar, Barnet and Enfield. Management of the NLR was taken over by the LNWR in 1909, but the company was not wound up until the Grouping.
Today, most NLR routes remain open under the management of the North London Line, the Docklands Light Railway and the East London Line.

No 111 arrives at the Swindon & Cricklade Railway from Quedgeley near Gloucester. Crane hook visible top right! Also on the right - Cambrian No 110. Both coaches are now under a large waterproof 'polytunnel'.

Carriage No 111

No 111 is a four-wheeled 1st class carriage. It enjoys some rareity, having been built for a railway used to moving large numbers of 3rd-class passengers. All North London stock was highly standardised and tended to spend its working life as part of one of the the close-coupled 'block trains' found throughout the system. These sets of four-wheelers were perpetuated by the LNWR after its effective take-over in 1909. They built more, and they lasted until electrification.

Perhaps this is a good place to introduce the 'polytunnel'. It is, of course, now covered by a close-fitting polythene cover, but this view shows No 111 and Cambrian No 110 more clearly. Essentially a very large horticultural greenhouse, it has proved an excellent low-cost solution.

Subsequent life

Once sold out of railway service, ending, it is believed, with service with the Armed Forces, No 111 was privately purchased and converted to become part of a bungalow at Quedgeley near Gloucester. It was saved (under the noses of the developer's bulldozers) and moved to the railway.

Apart from alteration for domestic use, both bodies were in an excellent state of preservation, having been protected by an external pitched roof.

Very similar to No 111 - a drawing from The Engineer magazine of 1869.

At the railway

Because of its basically excellent condition little 'emergency work' was necessary. The 'domestic' wall cladding from 'bungalow' days has been removed to allow better air circulation, as has the felt cladding on the roof.

Immediate restoration work on No 111 was 'on hold' in favour of other projects for some years after it arrived, but the opportunities to recover parts from other NLR vehicles have not been overlooked, and a suitable underframe is in stock.

Now, with less labour and resources required on other projects, work has begun - primarily to rebuild the basic frame in original condition.

Restoration Progress

The North London carriage inside the polytunnel before restoration. It has been used as a base for our woodworking machinery and a store for materials. You can also see our sales stand which gives a steady and useful income which covers consumables like screws, filler, sanding equipment, paint, etc.

Some of these North London doors are originally from 111, others are narrower 3rd class doors salvaged from another vehicle. These will be cleaned up, repaired and in the case of the 3rd class doors widened.

This side of 111 shows three new sections of woodwork that have been put in. Three holes had been cut to accommodate windows in the holiday cottage, two of these had gone through the doorposts, and while one could be repaired, the other had to be replaced by a whole post salvaged from another vehicle. The top sections are being repanelled with marine ply.