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Carriage Shop Blog October 2016

Well then – what a great gala!

I can safely say, that from my perspective in the carriage shop, that was the most enjoyable and engaging gala I’ve witnessed during my time at the Watercress line. Being something of a Somerset and Dorset nut, the highlight had to be the Pines Express thundering through Ropley non-stop. Brilliant! As (I think I’ve mentioned somewhere before) a bit of a Somerset and Dorset nut, it was sad to see the 7F not able to come out and play, but we all know they’re big toys that are all getting on a bit in years, and sometimes it just can’t be helped. It still looked lovely in the yard.

In the workshop we had a really great response, and thank you to everybody who took the time to come and talk to us on Friday, and look around the workshop on Saturday and Sunday. We had MK1 4910 accessible to visitors all weekend, showing off the work we’ve just finished on that. It is now complete on our part inside and out, Ollie having finished the painting and also this time the lining (a first for him – very well done!) the previous week.

On the Bulleid front, we were able to show real progress. Unfailingly, every gala for the last few years there are people who come through the workshop, point at 1456 and say something along the lines of, “you can’t restore that?! It’s too far gone!”. It’s a fair point, it does look a bit grotty, but Gordon and I smile knowingly and say that we will, just wait till next gala… Usually next gala comes and the same people come around and we all say the same thing – till this time! By the Wednesday before the gala I had finished jointing together every part of the first section of framework, which incorporates four windows, and is roughly a quarter of the carriage sides. Visitors were able to see it assembled on the floor and tied to the carriage below where it will be permanently fixed in the near future. Having it there was one of those wonderful moments, where you can stand back and say “I did that” – which really is a magic feeling. It’s been a real team effort in fact, with several volunteers and staff doing their bit in the production line, I just got to do the fun bit of fitting it together, so well done team!

One thing gala wise that I really must mention is Graham and his pens. Visitors on Saturday and Sunday will sadly not have seen this, but that is actually a mark of how successful it was. We are replacing a lot of the timber frame on Bulleid carriage 1456 because the lower part of every upright timber is rotten. It would theoretically be possible to splice new timber in, but it would be on EVERY timber. One or two fair enough, but every single one would just mean that the restoration took several times longer and we’d end up with a very weak frame. Enter Graham and his business brain! He saw the sound timber on the top parts of old frame and thought “let’s make something and sell it!”. Being a whizz with a lathe (and an Axeminster catalogue…), his first thought was pens – so he got to work!

With two different designs of pen, out of several different timbers (the carriage is a real mix and match – teak, mahogany, oak, and then some off cuts of the sapele we use for new framework) plus some bathroom light pulls and keyrings, Graham set up stall on Friday morning. We expected to sell a few, and even had people willing to take on selling them over the rest of the weekend… but then we sold the lot! Every single item had gone by 4PM on the Friday. After totting up the figures, we had made £371.20, which has all gone to the Canadian Pacific project, which of course the restoration of carriage 1456 comes under. From everybody here at the railway, thanks very much Graham, and well done… now get that lathe going again because we want more for next gala!!

Thanks for reading,


The HLF supported Canadian Pacific project includes the restoration of Bulleid coaches 1456 and 4367.  We are currently requesting help with funding the overhaul of Canadian Pacific, by sponsoring a stay or stays, which come with a number of incentives.  Click here to sponsor a stay!  Alternatively, you can download and print the form at the bottom of this page.  We are also still accepting other donations for the project, so please click here to do so.  To keep up to date with project progress, please sign up to our newsletter by clicking here.

Finally, to find out more about the Canadian Pacific project, check out our new website at www.watercressline.co.uk/canpac.  Thanks for reading!

Photo gallery

  • Pen making in action

  • Finished pen woodwork in the jig

  • The finished article! You’ll have to wait till the next gala to get your hands on one!

  • More products created from old Bulleid coach timber, sold to support the Canadian Pacific project

  • Ollie lining the carriage

  • MK1 4910 looking resplendent in its new livery

  • The team working on new Bulleid framework

  • New section of south side framework (windows S1-S4) as exhibited at the gala

  • Next section of south frame (Window S5)

  • North side begins (Window N1)

  • View of workshop as of 28/10/16

Return to the Can Pac site