At a glance:
Builder: Belfast & County Down Railway (Queen's Quay Works)
Build date: 1903
Original company: Belfast & County Down Railway
Withdrawal date: 1953
Final company: Ulster Transport Authority
Arrived at DCDR: 1987
Current status: Museum display
Current owner: DCDR

39 is one of only two remaining BCDR brake coaches, the other being No. 72 which is also under our ownership. On every passenger train, a guard is required to ensure the safety of everyone onboard – their responsibilities include ensuring all the doors are closed and all couplings are working, operating the emergency brake, and guiding the driver during shunting maneuvers. A century ago these railway employees were given their own compartments aboard special carriages, at least one of which would be added to every train.

In addition to its third-class seats, 39 was equipped with a large ‘guard’s van’ for luggage and parcels, complete with an emergency train brake, built-in lamps to give the steam engine the ‘right away’, and duckets. These were windowed panels which projected from the normal profile of the carriage, allowing the guard to look up and down the train without having to put his head out of the window when it was raining! Once common features on Irish brake carriages only three with duckets have survived into preservation, two of which are at DCDR.

After withdrawal in 1953, 39’s body was purchased by a farmer and used as a henhouse until we acquired it in 1987. Although structurally still in good condition, we’ll need to reproduce a lot of skin and build a new underframe to make it operational again. This is going to be a lot of work, so in the meantime the carriage will serve as a dramatic example of what much of our stock looked like when in ‘henhouse condition’.