British Railways CK No 16232. The transformation from being a dirty and weather beaten coach to having the body sides flattened with 240 grit wet and dry sandpaper and then gived two coats of varnish.
The next vehicle the GVCG crew will help with will be a DMU car. Afterwards our vintage vehicles will enter the shed for the summer and hopefully completion of all work to ensure both are back in use in 2012.
Body Snatchers over the border by Dewi Jones
It was in February 2010 that I got a phone call from a friend saying that he had just been to see a plot of land that was for sale. The “bungalow” on it contained two railway coaches. Both still displayed their Great Western Railway numbers 6409 and 6414. Research revealed that they had been built by Brown Marshalls, Britannia Works of Birmingham in 1883 for the Taff Vale Railway as their number 31 and 52.
They are 36 feet long and have three second class compartments and three first class compartments. Interestingly the First Class compartment doors are three inches wider than the others!. Both were withdrawn by the GWR on the 2nd October 1926 and presumably were soon sold off. They were moved to Astwood Bank near Redditch, Warwickshire, the nearest they had been to Birmingham since they had been built!. The new owner then placed them alongside each other, built a roof over them and a lean-to kitchen. This was a home to several families over the years until the last moved out about 2008.
The owners had no thought that preservationists would come along 80 years later and had used their saws and chisels with some enthusiasm to make the coaches as cosy as possible. The interiors have not survived as well as the outside.
In October 2010 both were moved to Bewdley, Worcestershire and work started on cosmetically restoring the exteriors. They were painted brown and cream to look as if they had been in use as sheds or offices in the 1950’s. We have where possible kept the GWR transfers. The Great Western (Severn Valley Railway) Association were at the time carrying out research before placing an order for garter crest transfers and one of the last pieces of information came off these carriages, these transfers being applied between 1923 and 1926.
In August they had reached the stage when they could be moved to the Gwili. This was arranged with Davies Crane Hire, Carmarthen who sent two lorries to Bewdley to pick them up. The route back home was via the M5 and M50 where they crossed back into Wales. The lorries then took the Heads of the Valleys road passing Merthyr where they quite likely once worked into. The number of people taking photos on mobile phones surprised the drivers.
The plan is now to place the two TVR carriages on the platform at Bronwydd and convert them into tearooms and a refreshment outlet. The wide doors are wide enough for a standard wheelchair and with a level access will allow entry to those who currently can’t make it up steps.
Work continues on the end of the Taff Vale coach with it now having had two coats of red undercoat. This was surplus paint and will stand as a good base for the grey undercoat due next.
New replacement oak gutter pieces have been delivered and will be attached shortly. These will require drilling, countersinking and painting before fitting though.
Further brake work is in progress but it’s difficult to explain in enthusiastic terms how one enjoys threading bolts!
Aiming to get both the Taff Vale and GWR 216 back into use next year we have started on building the wooden framed seat backs. All are now in a position to be upholstered.
Further work on 216 has seen more of the vacuum brake equipment attached and hopefully will be tested shortly. The vacuum cylinder was attached a few weeks ago so the running boards could be reattached as well. It’s a nice feeling to see so many parts that had been lying around the shed actually being fitted permanently to these vehicles!
Taff Vale Railway coach No 145 was moved from the Evan Evans brewery in Llandeilo to the Gwili Railway. It is now again safely stored and protected for its restoration sometime in the future