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South East & Chatham Railway

(Note: Numbers in brackets refer to specific references)

After many years of intense competition the London Chatham & Dover Railway and the South Eastern Railway set up a joint committee in 1898 to run the two companies as one using the operating title of South East & Chatham Railway. The LCDR got its name in 1859 following the extension of the earlier East Kent Railway, caused in part by the larger SER trying to deny it traffic. The SECR was a joint company in many respects as the two constituents remained, legally at least, separate companies with separate shareholders.

The SECR viewed Kent as its home territory although it also ran in to Sussex and through Surrey into Berkshire. The SECR was primarily a passenger railway feeding commuters into its London terminus at Charring Cross but although new improved carriages were introduced for longer haul work the inner London services were never very popular with passengers. From a freight point of view its most important assets were the docks at Dover and Folkestone. Additional freight revenue was generated by factories on the banks of the rivers Thames & Medway and coal from the East Kent field was a regular cargo. The plan to rationalise the system, reducing the duplication of services and facilities built up by the LCDR and SER, was never fully implemented due to opposition from local traders who wished to retain their local goods yards.

Good stock body colour was mid to dark grey, similar to the GWR wagon grey. Initials used were originally S E & C R in lettering about one plank high in the lower left hand corner with the wagon number in the lower right. The load and tare were painted on the solebar to the left and right respectively. The number was repeated on the ends of the wagon, painted on the bottom plank. At about the time of the first world war some wagons had the load indicated on the top plank in the centre of the top plank on each side as shown in the sketch. When Maunsell took over as CME in 1914 the company initials changed to twelve inch high rather high on the body side and the number moved to the bottom plank on the left hand side, the lower right carrying the inscription To Carry 10 Tons, or what ever the vehicle was rated for. Some wagons were simply marked 10 TONS. In the only photograph I was able to find of a tarpaulin on an SECR wagon the sheet was marked S E C, under that the sheet number and under that S E C again in even smaller script.

SECR passenger stock was originally all over dark red lined in yellow. The red was actually 'madder lake', slightly darker than the Midland Railway maroon. During the First World War the coaches changed to an orangy brown called 'raw umber' and non passenger coaching stock probably bore a similar colour but with no, or simplified, lining. SECR locomotives were originally two-tone green but this changed to an all over very dark grey (almost black) during the First World War.

The liveries of the constituent companies would have been seen into the early years of the twentieth century.

LCDR wagons were grey with L & C D R evenly spaced along the middle of the sides in six inch lettering with the wagon number (two or three digits) in the lower left in six inch lettering and the tare in the lower right in three inch italics. Fox offer LCDR goods stock transfers in their 2mm range. Their coaches and horse boxes were varnished teak and their locomotives were black, lined in white on the tender, cab and splashers, red on the boiler bands.

SER wagons were red oxide with SER on the bottom plank to the left and the number on the bottom plank to the right, in white and about one plank high. SER coaching stock was painted 'dark claret', again similar to but darker than the Midland Railway coaching stock colour.

Fig ___ SECR

The SECR had their own fleet of coal wagons, some were eight plank end door types and a suitable plastic kit is available to members of the N Gauge Society. I believe they had some seven plank wagons in the same pre-world war one livery with no end door and no external side diagonal strapping, a re-paint of a Grafar seven plank would serve for this.

The seven plank end door mineral type shown is either a Lima body on a Peco chassis or a modified Peco wagon kit as described in Article xx (xx xx RM).

When Maunsell arrived the SECR built the first of the distinctive vans with the droop sides to the roof, you could modify a P. D Marsh kit by changing the end to a single central vent.

The iron cornered van shown is something a little different and I suggest the best way to approach the body is to use two Peco seven plank open wagons to make the ends with the corner planking and scribed plastic card for the sides and doors. The door frame is 1mm wide, I suggest 20 thou card for that but you may well have to sand the back side of the door planking to thin this down to match. Hinges are 10x20 thou strip with 10x10 thou to represent the hinge itself.


(1) An Illustrated History of Southern Wagons Vol 3 (SECR) - OPC The third volume in the series. I have not seen a copy however I understand it is to the same high standard as the previous two volumes.

(2) An excellent article by Mr. D. G. Holliday on modelling the SECR in 4mm scale was published in Railway Modeller Magazine for September 1984. This includes pictures of several models including an outside framed van and a six wheeled brake van.


The South Eastern & Chatham Railway Society (SECSOC)

South Eastern & Chatham Railway Preservation Society
This society is currently homeless. The hold a large number of artifacts associated with the SECR but pending finding a home they cannot put them on show.

Available models

No specific models are known of in 2mm/N scale however I believe the SECR operated a number of eight plank coal wagon in its own livery and the N Gauge Society offer a plastic kit of this type.


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