A Midland carriage for a Midland Branchline

When one looks around the railway at the superbly restored carriages owned by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Trust and the Vintage Carriages Trust there is an alarming omission.

The L&Y Trust have to date magnificently restored from near derelict condition, 3 carriages from that railway with a fourth well under way at Oxenhope. The VCT has exhibition representatives from close to home in the Great Northern Railway and Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway. There is a three carriage set from the Metropolitan Railway in London and even a Southern Railway coach built for the boat trains to the far flung south coast of England – but not one vintage carriage belonging to the ‘home’ railway company has been seen fully restored. That is until now – Midland Railway six-wheeled Composite coach No.358, built in 1886, and owned by VCT since July 1968 is now well on the way to taking its place amongst the railways vintage fleet.

MR-131222'1This carriage has for years stood at various points on the Railway, exposed to the elements with only spasmodic remedial action taken. The roof had sagged and the roof struts flattened out, and the tenons between the roof struts and the side pillars had pulled out. This 128 year carriage was on its knees. In 2012 the carriage was brought inside and the task of rebuilding it started.

Restoration started in earnest in 2013. So far the internal bulkheads have been removed to allow the body shape to be restored to the correct profile and the replacement bulkheads have been pre-prepared. New roof MR-13122'2struts have been formed from ¾ inch thick wood laminations glued together using a jig and the radiused edges to the struts have been machined so that they replicate the originals. Old exterior paintwork has been burned off and thankfully most plywood panels are sound and have been sanded down to good effect, treated with two or three coats of brushing primer to seal the grain of the wood and filler applied to one side of the vehicle and a trial sanding of one area to ensure a smooth enough finish resulted.

As can be seen from the photographs all the doors have been removed for repair and whilst MR 140328'1the window surrounds are still in situ, serious deterioration has taken place and much work will be required before the new safety glass can be fitted. In addition the paint on the door ventilators has been burnt off which can only practically be done with the doors off the vehicle and laid flat on a bench. Repairing the passenger doors presents a different challenge for each door. One, for example, required a complete replacement stile (outer vertical frame member) which was created from a length of hardwood shaped as required and with the MR 140328'2necessary rebates for the strengthening steel strip etc.

The Oxenhope end of the carriage has come in for some attention with the paintwork burnt off. This exposed the vertical cracks in the mahogany panels but the are reasonably confident that these can be repaired without need of replacement.

That is the story so far of the exterior renovation, further updates on the exterior restoration and the start on the interior work will follow at a later date.

For the history of MR carriage no. 358, click here

Photographs: Paul Holroyd
Featured: Inside at last, 18th March 2012
1 & 2: Progress 22nd December 2013
Photographs: Graham Holroyd


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