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Carriage Lighting Overview

Electrical train lighting originated with an experiment by the LBSCR in 1881 involving a Pullman carriage and 32 "Faure" cells which had to be removed overnight for re-charging.  It was a start. Around the same time, the NBR tried a system with a steam powered generator on the engine, but this proved expensive on steam, so was not adopted. Various other methods of cell charging were tried until the present belt driven system was adopted more or less universally. On the continent a shaft drive system is more commonly used with the dynamo mounted along the coach rather than across it. The shaft drive system is more reliable, but is more expensive and can't be repaired as quickly as a new belt can be fitted. But then it doesn't fail so often!

In 1933, the Locomotive Railway Carriage and Wagon Review lists no less than 17 different charging/regulating systems for use with carriage batteries. These were (deep breath) ASEA, Brown Boveri, Dalziel, Dick, Dick (vibrating),ESB, EVR, Ganz, Mather & Platt, Oerlikon, Pintsch, Rotax-Leitner, Safety, Stone's, USL, Vickers and Wolverton. Only two of these systems survived into BR Mk1 days - Stone's and Wolverton. Most of the others have disappeared into the mists of time although it is not uncommon to find a Rotax-Leitner dynamo on a historical GWR vehicle.