Hornby Mk. 1 RB coach


By Howard Smith

07 May 2021

Howard Smith finds much interest in this new release from the manufacturer, available in guises suitable for modellers from the 1960s to the 2000s.

British Railways’ first standard design of coaching stock – the Mk. 1 – presented rolling stock builders with a set of standards that would cover bogie, gangway ends, underframe and underframe equipment, roof, window and door design. The interiors varied accordingly, depending on the purpose of the coach and the history of this rolling stock is long and convoluted, as modifications and upgrades took place. For detailed information on Mk. 1 rolling stock, I highly-recommend the book British Railways Mark 1 Coaches by Keith Parkin, which usefully provides many interior photographs – great inspiration when detailing, alongside outline dimensions.

Kindly received for review by Hornby is a sample of Restaurant Buffet (RB) W1739 (R4971). Carrying the Western Region pre-fix and representative of the batch numbered 1701-1772, these 38T vehicles could seat 23 passengers at one end, while the centre section of the coaches offered a buffet for light refreshments; the kitchen at the far end providing space for food preparation and more substantial offerings for the hungry traveller. Hornby is also producing the Restaurant Buffet Refurbished (RBR) variant of these vehicles, too.

Hornby Mk. 1 RB

This welcome addition to the Hornby range of Mk. 1 coaches is one of eight versions offered, with four liveries being made available – BR maroon in Western and Eastern Region guises, BR blue, DRS blue, BR green and Intercity Executive.

Hornby announced a second batch of the models, expected to arrive in the autumn, and its models representing refurbished examples allow later era modellers to enjoy these coaches, inserted into a rake of Intercity Executive-liveries, representative of the late-1980s and into the 1990s, or later, if using that of 1657 in DRS blue.

Detail around the coach is in-keeping with that of Hornby’s previous Mk. 1 coaches. We see Commonwealth bogies fitted, these very good representations of the prototypes. However, the more discerning modeller might choose to upgrade the location of the brake shoes, bringing them further in-board.

Hornby Mk. 1 RB

Side detail is pleasing and I admire the door bump stops, hinges, door and grab handles. The last-mentioned of these items are moulded with the sides, but with the clever and subtle application of paint across their face, they don’t appear so. To the ends of the coaches, the instantly-recognizable and distinctive outline of the Mk. 1 tumblehome and corridor connections is ever-present, though I’d be tempted to substitute the moulded end grab rails for nickel silver wire, particularly as the touching-in of satin paint in this area is easier than the lined bodysides. Speaking of which, interestingly, on this example down one side is a faint outline of the ‘Buffet Restaurant Car’ lettering, incorrectly-applied. It appears the factory corrected this in time, though a little residue of the application remains in the door jam.

Underframe detail is very pleasing, with the additional under-slung gas bottle and battery box housings neatly rendered. The same can be said for the prominent roof detail of this coach, too, with additional vents above the kitchen and buffet zones. The sectional roof joint detail remains a little too prominent for my liking, but this is something that modellers are now accustomed to and changing it might make it clash with what we’re now used to. Interior detail is hidden where the obscure windows of the kitchen and toilet are concerned, but look more closely at the passenger area, and you’ll find tables and seating represented, suitable for the addition of passengers. Correctly, the interior floor height isn’t raised, so passengers could be added standing as though moving through the train to purchase a snack.

All told, this is another excellent and useful addition to the range of coaches being offered to the modeller. With a selection of liveries covering the coaches’ lifespan from which to choose, I can certainly recommend them.