Stockton & Darlington Railway third class coach No 179
Stockton & Darlington Railway No.179, a.k.a. the Forcett Coach, is a surviving third class railway coach built in 1865.
Stockton and Darlington Railway
No. 179 was built as a four wheeled, four compartment coach, by the Stockton and Darlington Railway in their Hopetown Carriage Works in Darlington. It was one of a rake of basic but robust coaches, built for use on market day trains only, as the condition of existing stock was suffering due to passengers carrying livestock and produce in the coach compartments. It has the horizontal planked body with exterior frames that was common at the time. The exterior is made of teak, with an oak grained interior. As was their practice, it was finished by the S&DR in scumbled teak livery with green ironwork.
At the time it was built, the S&DR was already part of the North East Railway, having been bought by them in 1863, however it continued to run independently for another ten years.
Forcett Limestone Company
After the NER took direct control however, they began to dispose of unwanted S&DR stock. In 1884, No.179 was sold to the Forcett Limestone Company, whose Quarry in Forcett, South Durham, was connected to the Forcett Railway, a branch line of the Darlington to Barnard Castle line. In Forcett ownership it was modified, adding a guards compartment and associated hand-brake and end window, then put to use by quarrymen.
Latterly stored at Forcett Goods Station, it was claimed for preservation under the the British Transport Commission listing system. It initially went on display at the York railway museum (the predecessor to the National Railway Museum). It later deteriorated while in storage in Clay Cross, Derbyshire.
Beamish railway & Shildon restoration
In 1970 it was saved from being broken up after being taken on by the Beamish Museum, entering their collection (no. 1970-343). As part of the 150th anniversary celebrations of the S&DR held in Shildon, No. 179 was restored over a four month period by volunteers at British Rail Engineering's Shildon Wagon Works. Out-shopped in March 1975 it then went on display. Later that year it returned to Beamish, where it was operated on their Rowley Station line as part of their steam hauled passenger train formation.
Timothy Hackworth Museum / Locomotion
Having again deteriorated due to the elements, in 1984 it again returned to BREL Shildon for further attention. This was interrupted by the closure of the works, whereupon No. 179 was passed to the nearby Timothy Hackworth Museum across town. When that museum was incorporated into the National Railway Museum's new out-station, the Locomotion museum, in 2004, it entered the NRM collection (no. 1978-7053). It remained on the site, moving to the new collection hall built for Locomotion.
Return to Beamish
On 4 July 2011 the coach was bought by Beamish, who passed it to Stanegate Restorations and Replicas in Haltwhistle for restoration. Beamish intend to use it on their Waggonway, freeing up vehicles for other uses. It was to be restored to its original S&DR appearance, but without removing the modifications made at Forcett - it will infact be fitted with twin line air brakes, in a reversible manner, to fully utilise those Forcett changes. Once restored, No.170 will be the oldest complete coach in operational condition.