18 Year Restoration Project Nears Completion

The restoration of a Victorian Midland Railway coach is approaching completion and has moved from the restoration shed to the museum at the Midland Railway – Butterley.

The coach, built in Derby Works in 1890, is a Party Saloon (sometimes referred to as a Picnic Saloon) with four large bench seats which will carry 28 passengers. With its own toilet and wash basin at one end and a luggage compartment at the other, it was ideal for group travel, which was very popular at the time. Visitors to the Midland Railway – Butterley will be able to travel in the coach for the first time at the Vintage Weekend: 29th & 30th April and 1st May.

In 1999 the wooden coach body was recovered from a garden in Shirley, West Midlands, where it had been used as a changing room for a tennis court. It was moved to Somerset, near the home of a Midland Railway Trust volunteer, Alan Bridger. Sections of the bodywork and the roof had started to rot and many parts were missing. However, it had retained its original doors and some glass, including the decorated and engraved glass in the lavatory area. Some original fittings also survived and extensive research was carried out, which identified original drawings and included picking through many layers of paint to find the original colours and stencilling, so that it could be restored as accurately as possible. Where new items have been manufactured, such as the bench seats, every effort has been made to reflect the Midland Railway style of the period.

In 2012, after extensive bodywork restoration, mainly by Alan, it was moved to the Midland Railway – Butterley and united with a specially prepared underframe, which whilst not original has been restored to be as cosmetically correct as possible, by a team of volunteers at the Midland Railway – Butterley. Work then continued until spring 2017 to complete the restoration.

Alan Bridger said “I am thrilled to see the coach looking as it would have done in Victorian times. In 1999 the task seemed very daunting, but I was determined to see it through, and looking at it now I can hardly believe what we’ve achieved.”

For further information and additional photographs please contact us. Additional photographs show various stages of the restoration and other views of the completed coach.

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