Restored Severn Valley Railway Carriage is ‘a Credit to the Team’

The Severn Valley Railway is celebrating the passion and skills of its volunteers, as the almost restored LNER Gresley teak carriage 43612 was rolled out of the paintshop at Bewdley.

A team of 25 volunteers has dedicated more than 6,000 hours to the restoration of the wooden-bodied carriage, which was built in 1934 and has been receiving extensive repairs and attention for the past two-and-a-half years.

A crowd of more than 50 guests gathered for the occasion, which included many of the volunteers involved in this meticulously executed project, as well as SVR directors, SVR Charitable Trust trustees and members of the press. The SVR Charitable Trust owns the carriage and has contributed funds from a supporter’s legacy to the cost of its restoration.

‘It looks amazing,’ said SVR managing director Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster. ‘And it’s a credit to the team involved, with leadership from our paid staff member Colin Astbury. They have a clear passion to keep these heritage skills alive. I can’t thank them enough for their efforts.’

Martin Turbutt, who works for the SVR at Bewdley, explained more about the details of work carried out:

‘We’ve repaired the underframe, floor and roof, replaced all interior panels and vinyl wall coverings, reupholstered all 64 seats with new 1924-pattern moquette, installed new tables, and repaired the timber frame and some of the exterior teak panels.

‘A number of the largest teak panels were beyond repair, so these were replaced with the last of the SVR’s stock of new panels, obtained many years ago. Naturally grown teak panels of the required size are no longer available, as the felling of suitable mature trees in the Far East was prohibited several years ago.

‘One of the more unusual jobs was the replacement of some of the gangway components, as these were worn beyond acceptable limits. Although 43612 was built by the LNER at York in 1934, the gangways were contracted out to Metro-Cammell in Birmingham. After the company closed, most of their drawings were saved by Birmingham library. One of our volunteers spent an afternoon in the library with his laptop, creating CAD drawings from the stored microfiches. We sent these to a local manufacturer who made the required components on a CNC milling machine, together with a spare set to go into store.

‘After many weeks of final painting and varnishing, the lining and lettering was applied – all painted by hand. On a Gresley coach, there is a third-of-a-mile of straight lines to paint on, together with gold leaf on the lettering!’

The restoration isn’t fully complete just yet, and still to come is some mechanical work, including fitment of a set of bogies and braking/heating systems, all of which have been overhauled in Carriage & Wagon at Kidderminster. The SVR expects to see 43612 take its place back in the teak set by the autumn.