Carriage & Wagon Works News
HRA award for restoration of the four Metropolitan Railway Carriages
The restoration on the Bluebell Railway over the last sixteen years
of the four Victorian Metropolitan "Ashbury" coaches has been one of
the most significant carriage restoration projects in the history of
the preservation movement.
On 2nd June 2007 this was recognised by the award of the "overall
winner" of the Heritage Railway Association's 2006/7 Carriage & Wagon
competition. The presentation of the award and the Railway Magazine
Lamp was made at the HRA Spring Meeting in Leeds by Dame Margaret
Weston DBE, the HRA President.
The award was collected by six members of the restoration team,
including Roy Matthews who was one of the founder members of the
project, for whom the 15 years have formed his "retirement" project.
Also present was Barry Coward, who coordinated the fund raising for
the first ten years of the project, raising much of the £40,000 which
has been spent on the project, although it is estimated that
volunteers have contributed around 2/3 of a million pounds-worth of
volunteer labour to the project! Unable to be present was Martin
Lock MBE, who led the project for most of its duration, but whose
work now takes him to New Zealand where he is currently
project-managing major rail projects in Auckland.
That the project has achieved the restoration of the four carriages
without large sums of external funding is largely down to Martin and
Barry's leadership, and their establishment of BASH (Bluebell Ashbury
Supporters and Helpers) as a volunteer unit within the Bluebell
Railway to see the restoration though.
The photographs from Barry Coward show some of the BASH team members at Leeds Station, after collecting the award at the HRA meeting. More photos available here and here.
The four Metropolitan coaches form the core of the Bluebell's
Victorian Train, which now numbers seven vehicles, with LCDR and
LBSCR four-wheelers and the Great Northern Railway Directors' Saloon,
and which will be running on June 15th and 17th for the Railway's
Victorian Evening trains.
- Set of four Victorian Metropolitan Railway carriages
- Oldest matching set of mainline carriages running in the UK
- Only close-coupled set of vintage carriages in UK
- Were the oldest coaches in active mainline service in UK when obtained by Bluebell Railway in 1961
- One of the coaches almost destroyed by dry rot - much of the interior of this carriage has had to be reconstructed from scratch
- Saved for future restoration thanks to the Bluebell Railway having built a carriage shed in 1972
- Restoration started in late 1991
- Restoration undertaken by volunteers, together with all fund-raising
- First carriage restoration project ever to have its own dedicated web pages
- First carriages on a heritage railway to have wheelsets re-tyred
- Roofs, partitions, teak panelling and even some floors have been replaced, but most of the main structure remains original
- Major mechanical work including rebushing or remaking of all brake components, and several new castings and springs
- Retrimming of seats in reproduction of the classic LT "Tribolite" pattern
- About £40,000 raised and spent on materials
- First two completed in 1999, third in 2002 and fourth at the end of 2006
The coaches are:
Only the Full third and brake third have conventional couplings at one end each, all other couplings being bar couplings with short buffers, and hence the two outer end coaches were the first to be restored.
- Full third No.394, built by Ashbury, Manchester, in 1900
- Brake third No.387, built by Ashbury, Manchester, in 1898
- First/third composite No.368, built by Ashbury, Manchester, in 1898
- First/third composite No.412, built by Cravens, Sheffield, in 1900
This photo, from HRA Press Officer, John Crane, shows Chris Smyth and Dame Margaret Weston presenting the award, the Railway Magazine Lamp, and the certificate, to representatives of the BASH team.
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Last updated 9 June 2007 by Richard Salmon
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