reported by Nick Bailey and originally
published in “Tiddly Dyke”, the magazine of the
The coach we now know to be Taff Vale No. 73 was
the Railway in 1985. Until then, it had been standing on a piece of
We are now pretty sure it is an ex-Taff Vale Railway 1st/2nd Compo, although we need to find its number to be absolutely certain. That makes it unique as the only known 1st/2nd survivor. A 4-wheel CCT van has been acquired to provide one chassis. It will soon be on site, but will require alteration to fit.Also unique is another vehicle we have found - extraordinarily, again from the Taff Vale. This time, it is a full passenger brake No 277. Its present location must remain a secret, because the owners are very concerned about trespass, but it has been donated to the Railway. It has stood in the same place for more than 70 years and is fragile. But, if we can retrieve it in one piece, it may give us what we need to create a vintage train, the brake providing for the disabled. We have high hopes of obtaining a 6-wheel vehicle to suit the brake.
The CCT van, donor chassis for the composite aka “Red Coach” duly arrived on 17th January. You can hardly miss it in it garish livery! We have also bought another chassis, 6-wheeled this time, to go under the Full Brake.
Appleby Heritage Centre, probably the market leaders in restoring these
coaches, have visited and their estimates are:
"Red Coach" - £23,000. No 277 - £28,000. Both are subject to VAT and allow for body rebuild, but not painting or fitting-out or the provision of the chassis.
Adapting the CCT
chassis will be
more expensive than hoped, because it is 7 ft longer than expected, and
overhang at the ends would need to be shortened to look right with a 26
body. An option, as it is in such good condition, is to sell it on.
There is a
derelict van on the Railway already which would do nicely but, so far,
enquiries have not been successful.
Two representative from the
Great News!!! We have a £20,000 grant to help restore the "Red Coach".
It will go to Appleby Heritage Centre, who will have workshop space in August. Meantime, we have to strip off the old paint, free up the doors and remove the roof felt and internal panelling, etc, in preparation. The value of our volunteer labour involved in carrying this out counts towards our match funding.We have made a start and have opened three of the seven doors - for the first time in 80 years. Their condition is remarkably good. We know the number will be one of 42, 53, 58 (the first built in 1885) 60, 61, 64-68, 71-73, 32 and 36 (the last built in 1891).Autumn 2006
We've found the number of the Red Coach!!
The GWR, after
absorbing the Taff
Vale, had repaired some damaged teak panels with steel sheets. Luckily,
blue pencilled the number on the back with other information and,
faint, we were able to save it.The “Red Coach” is Taff Vale
Railway No. 73, built by them in the Carriage & Wagon works in
Finally, a five-compartment TVR
third class coach No. 145, dating from 1874, has just been recovered
Devon farm by the Gwilli Railway Society in Carmarthen. Identical
to its sister
vehicle No. 153 at the Vale of Glamorgan Railway at Barry, it might
opportunity, sometime in the future, of running a complete Taff Vale
behind the National Railway Museum’s Taff Vale locomotive No. 28. The
already shown a lot of interest in the prospect and, meantime, we are
collaborating with the Gwilli Railway coach restorers over the ordering
parts, as many are identical.
with HM Rail Inspectorate over the modification of the chassis are in
flow. We hope to start the actual work very shortly, with the intention
having it ready for the return of the body. A figure of £5000 for
the work has
been mentioned The Inspectorate requirements will govern, amongst other
what materials we have to use for the upholstery, possibly the floor
(fire risk) and the communication cord arrangements.
The last quarter has been somewhat frustrating with very little progress to show on the actual rebuild, with the body away at Appleby (where the drying out process is virtually complete) and negotiations with HM Rail Inspectorate proceeding only as fast as their workload allows.We now have grab handles (cleaned back to their original brass), droplight straps (including four made slightly different for the two first class compartments), brass rubbing strips for all the doors, a large part of the communication cord equipment (which may be needed) and a set of door hinges to the Taff Vale pattern. We have taken the opportunity to have extra items made which can be used on the brake van – e.g. some droplight windows and straps. If it is beyond restoration when we finally get permission to move it, they won’t go to waste. The group on the Gwilli Railway needs a lot of similar bits. The door handles have been cast, and that will be a major step forward as the whole lot were missing. Luckily, Brake No. 277 has its full set. We have also procured chassis drawings, which will enable us to work up
No. 73 is beginning to look like a proper coach again. Panelling has been completed, the roof dealt with and all the internals stripped where necessary, so the partitions can be rebuilt. Ken Gibbs has just made for No. 73 the intricate pattern for her 32 luggage rack supports and, if the casting live up to his skills, they will be as good if not better than the originals. Drawings for the chassis alterations have been finished – if the Railway Inspectorate approve them, we will get out the gas axe in the New Year. Actually, shortening the frame won’t take long – it is the detail which takes the time.
alongside No. 73, the brake van No. 277 has not been forgotten. We
move it to Blunsdon in the first part of 2008, and I have just obtained
extra wheelset which will be needed (No. 277 is a six-wheeler).
We visited No. 73 at Appleby on 21st January to view progress and discuss plans with them. Some dry rot had been found whilst stripping panelling when she was still at Blunsdon, and they have found some more. So everything will be sprayed against infestation before the new timber goes back on. That has all been delivered, and we took various fittings, including the replica oil pots so that Appleby can devise a way of fitting them. The roof has sagged, too because of the removal of the compartment walls. It is now back where it should be.Summer 2008
Completion of the body rebuild of No. 73 is expected July / August and, thanks to Bill Parker with whom we recently completed the donation of a suitable donor vehicle, the chassis has gone to Appleby (theirs was the best estimate) for modification. This involved a lot of work clearing out years of accumulated “stores” and removing the remains of the body. Ken Gibbs made a pattern for a luggage rack support, from which we have had a trial casting made by our friends D&M Castings of Stroud (see photo). We are delighted with the result. It’s unique – probably the only one in existence, and all Ken had to work from was a drawing of the compartment. You can guess how small the bracket shown in that was! We haven’t had the rest cast yetWe have has lots of good luck, too. Another Taff Vale coach came to light recently, near Newton Abbot – a seven-compartment bogie third dating from 1889. It would have complemented our intended TVR train very nicely, but it’s gone to RailwayHoliday.co.uk, who let old carriages for holiday accommodation. We’re collaborating with the owners to help them with door handles as the Taff vehicle is restored and, in return, we will get some surplus door locks.
More good fortune came with the discovery of a Midland Railway carriage hidden away in the Forest of Dean and though we couldn’t save it complete, our project benefited from some door hinges (identical to ours), teak panelling and other timber, an end wall and part of the roof, which we hope will re-emerge at Blunsdon in a new role later.
More of the parts we need for TVR No. 73 are starting to arrive – like the first three door handles, machined and polished up from raw castings. They look superb! We’ve also got the first set of the mechanism for the new door locks, and have found a source for the springs.
confirmed that Taff Vale No. 73 now has a rolling chassis. They have
off any remaining steelwork, shot blasted, cut 2ft 9in from the centre
re-welded the two halves together. “She runs a treat,” was the comment
afterwards. There is
still a fair bit to do before the body can be united and the whole
finished off. One major item we have to replace is the vacuum cylinder
topof the old one has rusted through like a colander! We are
refitting the gas tank, slightly shortened to fit the reduced space, to
preserve authenticity – No. 73 originally had gas lighting.
will also be
a steam-heat through pipe, although there is no heating in the coach
Monday 23rd February saw me back at Appleby with the last few bits and pieces for Ex-Taff Vale coach No. 73. The major item still to be fitted is the reconditioned vacuum cylinder which still hasn’t arrived, despite being ordered well before Christmas. Other than that, the old girl is sitting on the chassis and pretty much complete, right down to the lincrusta on the ceilings.Autumn 2009
No. 73 is “home”, returning on 9th July. There is still a lot of tinkering to do, plus the final painting and obtaining and fitting the upholstery. If the money keeps coming in, we could see her in service in 2010.
Bob Simmons, who was
responsible for looking after No. 73 for all those years when she sat
under the trees at Blunsdon, sadly died just days before she came back
Appleby, although we had sent him photographs of her back on the
chassis in the
workshops. However, her first duty was to carry his ashes the length of
line, before they were finally laid to rest in Blunsdon platform.