Midland Railway Trust volunteer, Alan Bridger, will see an 18 year dream become reality when a restored Victorian railway carriage carries passengers over the weekend of 29th April – 1st May at the Midland Railway – Butterley.
Alan has worked tirelessly on the project since the carriage body was recovered from a garden in Shirley, West Midlands, in 1999. One big problem: the Midland Railway – Butterley is in Ripley, Derbyshire and Alan lives in Somerset. There are, however, no problems, only solutions and so it was moved to Somerset, where for 12 years the wooden body and interior was steadily restored.
The accompanying research was extensive and Alan sourced copies of original drawings, recorded original features meticulously and, where necessary arranged for modern replica items to be manufactured. A fellow volunteer spent some holidays with Alan, meticulously picking through the layers of paint, in order that the original interior colour scheme and stencilled embellishments could be identified.
In 2012 the carriage body was moved to Butterley, where it was united with an underframe, prepared by a team of volunteers there. It fitted perfectly first time. Since then work has continued with the wider team involved, although Alan has travelled to Derbyshire regularly to spend time on key areas of the restoration. Regular communication has kept Alan very much as the team leader.
Now that it is almost complete Alan beams with pride. “I can’t quite believe that it’s almost finished” he says modestly. “Little did I know what I was taking on back then. This has been such a major part of my life for so long now and I’m thrilled that it has been brought back to life.”
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