Built in June 1890 at Stratford Works, this thirty-two foot long coach was designed for main line use. It is certain that this type appeared on most Great Eastern express and main line trains up to the 1920’s. The brake end, with prominent guard’s lookout, has the characteristic end windows, and a space was provided here for luggage, parcels, etc. At the other end, a small compartment - removed later in its career, but now replaced - was provided for hand luggage. In the central compartment fish or livestock was conveyed. This compartment had a special convex floor, to assist washing out after use.
The design of No. 553 was typical of contemporary Great Eastern Railway coaching stock, with a wooden body on flitched wooden underframes. The Mansell wheels survive, although the Westinghouse brake gear has now been replaced with vacuum brakes. Oil lighting was originally fitted, but was replaced in 1925 by incandescent gas. A through steam heating pipe was fitted in LNER days, but this does not survive.
After the grouping of the railways in 1923, the coach was relegated to secondary duties and was withdrawn in September 1934, by which time it had been renumbered to London and North Eastern Railway Number 63761. It was transferred to departmental use as a tool van at Lowestoft Central. Subsequently, it was transferred to Yarmouth South Town, from where it was purchased for preservation on its withdrawal in 1965. It was stored at Carlton Colville (near Lowestoft) until it arrived at Chappel in 1974. It is now in 1916 condition, when it had a livery of carmine red known as ‘Colchester Crimson’. It has been restored to a high standard, and restoration work was sufficiently advanced by June 1996 for the vehicle to attend the ‘Eastern Union Railway 150’ exhibition at Ipswich as part of the Museum’s contribution to the static display. It appeared with the other Great Eastern restored coaches behind the GER E4 locomotive from Bressingham to form the first train of wholly GE stock since the 1950s. It is maintained in operational condition, but due to its age it is only used on demonstration trains on special occasions.