GWR First Class Saloon 9044 has arrived at Buckfastleigh on the South Devon Railway from the Bodmin & Wenford Railway for recommissioning work and use on the railway during the summer.
The carriage was built in 1881 and is believed to be the oldest surviving GWR bogie coach in existence. Originally used as a family saloon, it has supposedly seen passengers who include King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, and opera singer Madame Patti. In 1936 it was converted to a Civil Engineers Saloon and was travelled in by officers of the Great Western Railway and then British Railways until it was withdrawn in the 1960s. The carriage was restored to use in 2013 and has since operated on special days from its home at Bodmin General station in Cornwall.
Whilst at the South Devon Railway, recommissioning work and maintenance will be carried out on 9044 before it is used for a period during the summer season. Its debut on the SDR is expected to be during the line’s 150th Anniversary event between 30th April and 2nd May, whenit will be paired with visiting former Port Talbot Railway 0-6-0ST No 813 from the Severn Valley Railway, and passengers will be able to experience what travel was like over 140 years ago.
David Nelson-Brown, chairman of the Bodmin and Wenford Railway PLC said: “We are delighted to be able to enter into this partnership with our friends at the South Devon Railway. Covid-created backlogs in our workshop have side-lined this historic vehicle for too long and this loan to South Devon will see the carriage back in traffic much more quickly than at home. We are looking forward to seeing it in action this summer across the River Tamar and are already making plans for its use in Cornwall next year.”
South Devon Railway general manager, Ernest Elsworth-Wilson, added: “This is a magnificent vehicle and will provide an amazing experience for our visitors. We are very grateful indeed to the Bodmin & Wenford Railway for entrusting us with the recommissioning work and for the loan of the vehicle for the main season. It’s many years since we’ve seen Victorian clerestory coaches operating along the valley and it will make a very apt pairing with 813 during our 150th anniversary celebrations.”
The carriage is seen below having just arrived at Buckfastleigh by road from Bodmin, on 23rd March 2022.
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