2741 Restoration Diary

March 2007

Photograph 827: Internal panelling restored

Photograph 827: Internal panelling restored

Since the last report we have made good progress. The oak roof beams have been stained lightly and will be French polished once the plywood ceiling panels are up. The first three sections of internal panelling have been restored and re-installed, they will receive a coat of wax polish when all the panelling is complete. We are currently working on the last quarter of the panelling.

The luggage area is nearly stripped of its “paint”, we are unsure of the nature of the finish that has been removed! We plan to repaint it.

The “hole” in the floor where a fireplace was installed in the carriage's ‘house’ days has now been made good and once the floor covering is down it will be undetectable.

Photograph 825: Sliding vents and blind box detail

Photograph 825: Sliding vents and blind box detail

Externally the north side now has a full complement of doors, though the centre one has been sealed up but the droplight will still function. This was decided on as the original door was missing and the replacement was not a very good fit partly due to a slight displacement of the roof. This may be the result of the door having been removed perhaps as long ago as 1930. The centre door on the south side will operate normally.

The glass in the main windows has been replaced where it was broken or missing. We managed to obtain some replacement bolections from a derelict carriage which has been very helpful.

Photograph 826: North side completed

Photograph 826: North side completed

The north side of the carriage has had its three undercoats and has now received its first coat of gloss, with the bolections in ochre. We have made a start on the south side and will continue on when the weather permits in the spring.

One of the next jobs will be the internal panelling of the two centre external doors and also the restoration of the two internal doors. Work has yet to be started on the toilet area — probably a job for next winter!

February 2006

The oak roof beams have been stripped, the sides will be stained and polished with the bottom face painted to match the ceiling. A thin layer of insulation has been fitted to the roof, the position of the ceiling will not be changed. The vent and light roof holes have a thicker insulation layer fitted.

One of the external doors has been refurbished and now just waits to be painted when the weather permits. The luggage area is being stripped of its paint layers prior to repainting.

We have unscrewed a quarter of the internal panelling it all had to come down in one piece! It is now being cleaned up and will shortly be re-polished. With the panelling down it became possible to access the external side vents and clear away the cobwebs and muck of many, many years! We discovered the Lincrusta panels could be unscrewed and these were removed for new wallpaper to be applied — not Lincrusta but we hope an acceptable design. During the general cleaning up a small piece of thin wood was removed and revealed a hole possibly for a heater control and around the hole small pieces of a coloured Lincrusta which from its colouring we feel must be the original one. As a result we intend to paint the new wallpaper in a similar shade.

Progress since June 2005

The roof was our first priority and involved removal of several layers of roofing felt and a canvas layer. It was decided because of our outdoor location it was inappropriate to cover the roof with canvas so instead lorry curtaining has been used. We made the decision not to replace the vents.

So far the north side has received most attention, this was for two reasons. (i) It was the side in the worst condition, (ii) The carriage arrived in mid May and it quickly became too hot to work on the south side!

First of all any remaining paint was removed, and necessary repairs were dealt with. This included mending split panels and replacing rotten wood, then a coat of a mixture of wood preservative and linseed oil was applied to help the starved wood. The wood below the windows was beyond repair and has been replaced by weatherproof plywood. All the beading that needed to be replaced has been done in re-used mahogany. The wood has all been primed and had a coat of undercoat. It is hoped to get the glass back in the windows before we finally put it to bed for the winter. The middle door is missing but we have obtained a replacement which will be fixed with the south side door available for emergency use. The door in the luggage area will be the normal means of access. Next year there will be an application of “stopping” then more undercoats, gloss and varnish and of course the south side to start!

Photograph 802: Internal door Top Moulding

Photograph 802: Internal door Top Moulding

The panelling on the ends was split in a number of places and has been repaired with thin pieces of mahogany and larger pieces inserted as appropriate. Following our linseed oil treatment and primer the surfaces have been filled with stopping in an attempt to achieve a good finish! Three undercoats and so far one topcoat have been applied; we plan to apply further coats next year. The beading is in black Midland style and will be lined out prior to varnishing.

Internally most of the original wood remains complete with some ornate carving and a small amount of inlay work. The ceiling panels were made of canvas that has had many coats of paint and will all be replaced. Most of the glass has not survived but the toilet end droplights are patterned frosted glass and are fortunately intact. There are a number of Lincrusta wall panels that will need replacing. Unfortunately Lincrusta no longer have the designs so we will have to make do with an Anaglypta paper so the “look” will change a little. In the carriage's Mossley days a fireplace was installed in front of one of the windows (which was probably removed in 1976), this has left a large hole in the floor.

Photograph 803: Carriage at Rowsley autumn 2005

Photograph 803: Carriage at Rowsley autumn 2005

We would have liked to get more done externally this year but it wasn't to be! Work has started on restoring the outer doors on the bench in the shed. At the same time work has started on the inside with attention being paid to the ceiling. The wooden beams were painted, but originally they were French polished like the rest of the wood. The sides and base of each beam are joined by quarter-round beading covered with silver leaf. We hope to fit a thin sheet of insulation in under the plywood which will replace the canvas. The brass ceiling vents will be replaced for show only. The carriage is well ventilated with the side vents. It is planned to install modern low energy lighting instead of the original oil lights. Some of the wooden trim has had to be removed and this has been cleaned up and re-french polished (see below photograph which shows the moulding from above the internal doors one restored and the dull one not cleaned yet!)

As soon as possible we plan to use it for its original purpose, i.e. for eating our sandwiches on working days!! Originally it had 4 longitudinal seats with 2 long drop leaf tables but we are thinking more on the line of loose wooden chairs and 2 long tables preferably polished mahogany! It will also be used for meetings, like next year's AGM if all goes well!

If anyone feels inclined to help us in any way we would be extremely grateful. We are now realising it is going to be more costly, of both time and money, than we anticipated.

Alison Leather

2741 (original MR number 348) - A short history

Photograph 800: Carriage being lifted in 1976, courtesy of Foxfield Light Railway

Photograph 800: Carriage being lifted in 1976, courtesy of Foxfield Light Railway

In May 2005 we were offered and took on the task of conserving a unique Midland Railway built carriage body.

The body started life in 1884 mounted on a six wheeled underframe and its basic internal layout was that of an open saloon. This particular example came under the general heading of a 'Family Saloon' or 'Picnic Saloon'. From 1884 until withdrawn sometime in the late 20s or early 30s its primary use was equivalent to a road motor coach today. A whole family or group of people would hire the vehicle for the day. It would then be included in a suitable service train to transport its occupants to whichever railhead they desired. Most of these saloons (about 60 odd) were constructed to third class comfort, 10 were more luxuriously fitted out and allocated for first class passengers, presumably at higher cost! These workings continued until the early 30s when the last examples were either transferred to other railways for other uses or were scrapped.

The open design was however well suited to conversion into living accommodation and a number were removed from their underframes and so converted. Our saloon, number 348 (renumbered 2741 from 1902) was converted into a dwelling in Mossley. In this disguise it remained in use until the then owner decided to build a more permanent home on the same site.

Photograph 801: Carriage on site at Foxfield in 2005

Photograph 801: Carriage on site at Foxfield in 2005

Rather than ending up for firewood, 348 was rescued and sold and transported to the Foxfield Railway in 1976 and there it has remained ever since until transferred to the LMSCA on permanent loan in 2005. During its stay at Foxfield some restoration was undertaken, it was used as a home and eventually became a store. However in recent years and because the amount of work and expense required to restore it to original condition was unavailable, its condition whilst stored in the open, has deteriorated. When 348 was offered to the LMSCA we looked carefully at its condition and came to the conclusion that it was still possible to restore it in the longer term. However the most urgent requirement was to conserve what remained for the future. This work we agreed to finance ourselves and also decided that no alteration would be undertaken which would compromise 348's overall integrity for any future restoration project.