3rd Apr 2020 in Carriage Works
An exciting landmark in the life of the Watercress Line happened at the turn of March, when the first part of the Canadian Pacific Project was launched into traffic in the shape of Bulleid open third carriage, No. 1456.
Built in December 1947 by the Southern Railway, it has not been in service since around the end of Southern region steam in 1967. The carriage arrived at the railway in a derelict state during 2012, on a 25 year lease from the Bluebell Railway, with the understanding that the Watercress Line conducted a full overhaul back to working order. This was started in earnest at the end of 2016, and has seen major work on the structural timber framework, roof and underframe. Brand new steel outer panelling and window frames have been manufactured and installed, along with brand new seating, identical outwardly to the original components. The carriage has been finished in full Southern Railway livery, as it would have been when outshopped from Eastleigh works in 1947.
For its first runs in service the carriage was not 100% complete though, as it was made operational in time for the visit of Flying Scotsman to the railway, to give additional seating capacity for the reopening of the line into Alton. The carriage will be re-entering the works later in the year for additional items such as commissioning of the toilet compartments, but most importantly the installation of the brand new luggage racks and tables. Ali Steele, one of the project coordinators says, “the luggage racks will really be the icing on the cake. We’ve just had the final components back from being chrome plated and they are quite spectacular!”.
The work on this historic vehicle has been supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, along with the Arts Council via their Preservation of Industrial and Scientific Material (PRISM) Fund, who provided funding specifically for the underframe and bogies. With this valuable funding, and the hard work of the paid and voluntary members of carriage workshop staff, the Watercress Line has a fantastic addition to the carriage fleet. Ali went on to say “the work of our volunteers has been incredible. From getting noisy with a needle gun when cleaning up the underframe, to installing the electrical system, we simply couldn’t have done it without them. A real team effort, and I’m very proud to be part of that team.”
1456 formed part of the six coach Bulleid rake on the 14th and 15th March, the first time six Bulleid carriages have run together on the line since the 1960s, and will be joined in the not too distant future by another Bulleid carriage, semi-open brake third 4367. This is the next project for the carriage workshop, and the second carriage in the Canadian Pacific Project.