Vote for the ESR Wagon Restoration of 2011!
The East Somerset Railway has some 43 wagons in its care, some of which are still in the condition they were in when they were de-commissioned. They vary from the commonly seen Dogfish to the unique Class B Railtank that is currently under restoration.
Wagons have generally been the poorer cousins on most railways. They do not carry or haul passengers and are usually seen only on galas for the obligatory freight train. However they do perform a number of important roles on a railway, as in our case: they carry the generator for our wine and dine trains, water for our engines, and ballast for our track as just a three examples.
Work has been ongoing, restoring these vehicles to their former glory. I personally started three years ago and in that time there have been three wagons being given a make over:
First was the BR Standard Brake van which entered the workshop in late 2007. It was necessary to make it ‘safe’ for carrying passengers over the Thomas the Tank Engine events . This resulted in new step boards and some ‘safety’ doors on either veranda. These changes have worked well and people are able to continue experiencing Brake Van rides as a result.
2008 was an important year for the whole railway. Not only did it celebrate its 150th Birthday but also there was a mega gala at Merehead quarry. There was to be an impressive line up of engines, but wagons were not to be forgotten either! As well as the Brake van for brake van rides, a Medfit was also required to carry coal for the engines over the event. Our two Medfits were sound but still carried a very faded Olive Green livery that they wore when they were on the Isle of Wight. So, one was chosen for an overhaul ready for the event. In keeping with the railways 1950’s philosophy Bauxite was the colour chosen and in three months the wagon was ready. As you can see from the photo both brake van and wagon look very smart.
After the gala the next wagon came into the workshop. This has been the biggest challenge yet. It is a Class B Railtank used originally for carrying Creosote and then converted for use in the 1970’s as a water tank for the Stewarts Lane break down train. Although this invariably saved this class from extinction the railtank looked ugly in its orange livery and is being restored back to its 1950’s condition and black livery. It has taken from July 2008 to de-rust, treat and paint all the metal work but the end is in sight and with a good wind blowing the railtank will be finished by the end of March ready for the Easter Gala.
So ,what then? Next year will be entirely down to you, the public, who are going to choose for me.
This has come in the form of a ‘Vote for the E.S.R restoration of 2011’ appeal, which is helping to raise money to restore one of our P.M.V’s. Every penny donated counts as a vote for next years project. We could restore a passenger carrying brake van, a milk tanker or our generator van.
For more information you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org