First public service for No 73!
In mid April 2016, No 73 was mechanically complete, inspected and registered as a passenger-carrying vehicle on the railway. While we will have to wait for the completion of Luggage Brake No 442 before we can form a true Vintage Train, we couldn't pass up the opportunity for a trial run or two. So No 73 was 'topped and tailed' by two diesel shunters to give out-and-back trips on the railway's Northern Extension during our Gala on April 16 & 17. She gave an excellent performance and attracted much favourable comment. Read the full restoration story below.
The Taff Vale Railway was one of the oldest and most extensive of the South Wales companies. While it is rightly remembered as a 'coal railway' for its intensive traffic from the South Wales pits, it also ran passenger trains from its earliest days. The Taff Vale was taken over by the GWR in 1922.
Carriage No 73
No 73 is believed to be unique in preservation. While other Taff Vales carriages have been preserved, none have the 1st/2nd composite layout of No 73.
Once sold out of railway service, No 73 was converted as a dwelling and sited on land in Swindon used as the 'overwintering' quarters for a fairground family. Here, it was excellently maintained and became the home of the family's 'granney', who steadfastly refused to leave for the rest of her life. When it became vacent, it was offered to the railway and was moved to Blunsdon in 1985.
In use at Blunsdon
At the Railway
Here, as a 'grounded' body, it served as an office, First Aid room and store for some 20 years. Thanks to the efforts of one member in particular it was meticulously maintained, providing an excellent subject for restoration as a railway vehicle. The decision to do so was taken in 2005, when the Vintage Train Project was officially launched. Events then moved comparitively quickly. A grant of £20,000 was secured - sufficient for restoration of the basic vehicle. The work was awarded to the Appleby Heritage Centre and, after stripping the unwanted paint from the exterior, No 73 went away towards the end of 2006.
Work continued on internal fitting out and adding suitable brake gear. A splendid job was done by a local upholstery company giving a “leather” finish in the first class and fabric in the second class, final detailing included luggage racks, floor coverings and authentic period photographs in oak and mahogany picture frames. The finish, including painting and period lettering has attracted much praise.