Getting Old Railway Carriages Back On Track

Getting Old Railway Carriages Back On Track

An article on Saturday 24th January in the Nottingham Post talks about the fact for 15 years volunteers have been lovingly restoring rare 19th-century train carriages which are now almost ready to get back on the tracks.

The original Great Central Railway train, dating back to 1888, was found derelict in a Cambridgeshire garden at the turn of the Millennium.

But, after many thousand man hours, what was once a shell used for military exercises is now the jewel in the Great Central Railway Nottingham’s crown. Once it is up and running, it will be the second functioning train of its kind in the UK.

It has certainly been a labour of love for the volunteers at the heritage railway centre, in Rushcliffe Country Park, who rely on fares, donations  and sponsorship to keep running.

Doug Atkins, the chief carpenter of the centre’s main project, spent 1,500 hours helping to bring the carriages back to their former glory.

The 68-year-old from Bramcote said: “It’s been a lot of hard work but it will hopefully be finished by Easter. It will be a really proud moment when she’s back on the tracks but I don’t think we will send her far because she is a bit of a rickety old girl.”

The train runs on six wheels, an engineering decision that was eventually phased out and changed to four wheels to make turning corners easier.

Because of a lack of photographs, the train was restored using diaries and the recollections of those who rode in trains towards the end of the first half of the 20th century.

To reupholster the third-class carriages has cost nearly £8,000.

Retired furniture restorer Roger Penson, who has been helping out, said: “It was an absolute shell when it came to us. It had been used for military exercises, where it was thrown down a hill and was on a farm for sometime.

“We hope that it accurately reflects how it did look but some things are impossible to know. We have had to stuff the seats with foam instead of horse hair and coils because of cost. The luggage-holders above the seats were handmade by a fisherman in Great Yarmouth.”

Mr Penson, of West Bridgford, added: “The trains used to run past where I went to school in Loughborough, so it has a special resonance with me.”

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Main Picture – Volunteer Joe Peck restores a carriage

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