THE Mid-Hants Railway Watercress Line’s Heritage Lottery-funded locomotive restoration project, Canadian Pacific, is currently looking to raise £23,000 for the renovation of new seats and tables for two Bulleid-designed wooden-framed carriages, which date from the late 1940s.
According to Dr Becky Peacock, an outreach and interpretation officer, “this marks another important milestone in the return of the magnificent Merchant Navy class locomotive to its former glory”.
“The carriages will form part of Canadian Pacific’s carriages when the locomotive returns to service in the next few years,” she added.
The work, being carried out in the sheds at Ropley station, is said to be “extensive” - one of the carriages has two open saloons, each with 32 seats, and the other has one open saloon and two third-class compartments right in the middle of the carriage, holding eight people each.
All 96 seats for the open saloons are being manufactured new because none survived in either carriage. The third-class compartment seats did survive, however, so these will be renovated and upholstered.
While drawings for the structure of the seats are no longer available, general arrangement drawings for the carriage interiors are and these give several dimensions to work from. This, coupled with the Watercress Line’s experience in renovating Bulleid carriages, has allowed for the accurate design of the new seats, which will include some up-to-date internal metal strengthening to allow for a greater lifespan for the new seats.
All seats will be covered in new fabric, made by the original manufacturer, Holdsworth Fabrics (now known as Camira), and created in the traditional Southern Railway ‘Fleur-de-lys’ pattern.
Dr Peacock said: “Thanks to the wonderful renovation staff and volunteers in our workshops we aim to have one of the carriages finished by March 2019, allowing it to haul passengers up and down the Watercress Line by mid-2019. However, we are very much dependent on raising those funds in order to complete the work.”
And she added: “People have the chance to sponsor a seat for £240, which is great as it is a part they can see when the carriages return to service at the Watercress Line.”
Those wishing to donate to the project should make cheques payable to the Mid Hants Railway Preservation Society (if you are a UK resident and taxpayer you are asked to accompany your cheque with a note giving your postcode) and send it to: Canadian Pacific Project, The Railway Station, Alresford, Hampshire, SO24 9JG, or people can donate online at mydonate.bt.com/events/bulleidcarriages/472095.