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Preservation or Operation?

Winchcombe station with Carriage works beyond

Today 5 of us from the Steam Department at Toddington spent the day down at Winchcombe putting a tarpaulin over a rusting, derelict preserved carriage.  The carriage concerned is, I am told, the earliest surviving Stanier designed LMS carriage and it has sat in a siding becoming more and more of an eyesore for more than 20 years.  Today we made the very first step in actually preserving it i.e. just making sure it gets no worse.

You may wonder why we have left it this long and the reasons are very simple – no money, no facilities and too few volunteers.  We envy the SVR with their huge carriage shed but we are a totally volunteer railway with a fraction of their budget and our C&W volunteers have their hands full with keeping the Mark 1s that make up our bread and butter service trains looking respectable as they sit out in the sun and rain, their paint work fading.  We would love to be able to have trains of authentic GWR carriages and others and we know that Mark 1s are boring but we also know that if we fail to keep our non-enthusiast passengers adequately housed in smart well serviced train sets, the numbers will dry up and there will be no railway at all.

The best we can do at the moment is try to preserve and prevent further decay to what we have that is historically interesting, get rid of all the rusting dross and junk that makes the place look nasty and untidy to the travelling public and work on our appearance because that is where the increases in passenger numbers comes from.  What suffers is our diversity and a sense that we are doing what we all got involved for – to preserve and restore a GWR secondary mainline  but there are no short cuts to patience and keeping working at it, one step at a time.

It didn’t feel like we achieved a huge amount today except make Winchcombe yard look slightly neater but at least we have one less siding of unsightly stock as we come up to the War Weekend and the Steam gala.

Of course, if there is a small team of folk out there who would like to take on the restoration of one of our preserved carriages, you will be made enormously welcome!

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