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The North London 2nd class coach - finished!The North London 2nd class Carriage Restoration, backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund, was finished on time and within budget, and the vehicle re-entered traffic for the first time in decades.

It's shown here basking in the spring sunshine immediately after being unloaded at the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway after restoration. It's since been used for special trains both at the L&HR and more recently at the National Railway Museum, York, and the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester. The vehicle is currently undergoing overhaul at the FRT's base at the Ribble Steam Railway.

The paint scheme chosen for the exterior of the vehicle is Furness Railway Indian Red, as applied to workmen's carriages. This vehicle was used on such trains having moved north from its original stamping ground of North London. The colour is the same as that applied to locomotives of the Furness Railway, and so is the same as that worn by Furness Railway Number 20 and "Cumbria".

It's hard to believe that this picture was taken only one year after the slightly buckled, careworn body shell arrived at the Appleby Heritage Centre, which carried out the restoration contract. The Centre was set up in 1996 as a training establishment in East Cumbria, and had already completed a string of notable restorations, from a Midland Railway dray for the National Railway Museum, to the award winning rebuilding of a Zillertalbahn coach for the Welshpool & Llanfair Railway and a tram body for the Beamish museum in County Durham.

Lower down this page you can see a photograph of the body being delivered to Appleby, and although the colour scheme now is similar to how it appeared for thirty years as a store, the bodywork has been made sound, new fittings made, and it's been mounted on its "new" chassis. After it arrived at Appleby, the body was placed under a tarpaulin to dry out, before being placed temporarily on the chassis to ease movement in and out of the shed. Then, restoration could begin in earnest.

Refurbished doorThe North London coach under restorationBy September 2002, the body was back in primer, with the major exterior reconstruction complete. The bodywork had been stripped back, refurbished and restored. The floor was repaired and sanded flat, and new side panelling installed where necessary. Each door was dismantled, reassembled, and re-hung, and some new vents were manufactured for those doors where the original delicate mouldings had been lost.

A galvanised sheet was fitted over the refurbished roof boards, with a new roof canvas laid over the top of this. Replacement gutter strips were also fitted.

Underneath the body, the springs were overhauled and modified to accommodate the reduced load that the former PMV chassis has to carry: this entailed removing three of the nine leaves in each of the springs. The vacuum brake equipment, kindly donated by the Isle of Wight Steam railway in return for the redundant air-brake equipment we took off the old PMV chassis, was cleaned up and fitted. The brake rods were cut and welded to reflect the reduced length of the chassis. Meanwhile, staff at Appleby assembled the pipework to complete the reinstallation of the vacuum brake system. The decision was taken to retain the exterior handbrake at one end of the vehicle, to assist in future shunting operations.

Sanding a window frameSewing buttons onto the seats.Inside, what was once a vast empty space is now split up into five compartments. To the compartment walls, seat bases were added, and once the interior decoration was complete, the seats were fitted. Workshop manager Tony Vollans is shown (left) sewing buttons onto one of the completed seats. Ten new droplights were needed, and were made in the workshop at Appleby. One of the Appleby trainees who are providing the contract labour on the project is seen here (right) sanding down a frame inside the workshop. The door lock mechanisms were reassembled, and newly cast replacement inner latch handles were fitted. Leather straps to lower and raise the droplight window were procured and fitted. The communication cord equipment (the passengers emergency brake device) was manufactured at Appleby and installed, making use of the old holes in the compartments and bodywork.

The FRT was actively involved too. As part of its contribution to the grant funding, the Trust provided volunteer labour which saw the chassis cleaned and painted, the painstaking fitting of authentic Lincrusta paper wall coatings inside the compartments, and the painting of the body. In addition, three volunteers made the luggage rack netting - keeping alive an old skill that has now been lost on the national railway network! Behind the scenes, paperwork was signed off confirming the vehicle meets the regulatory requirements of Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate and the Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations.

The North London coach arriving at ApplebyTo see just how much progress has been made, compare this picture of the body being unloaded at Appleby earlier this year with the picture at the top of this page. Then it was still in the red livery it had carried as a grounded store for the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway's Carriage and Wagon Department for 30 years.

Some clues did come to light about the coach's former use. Fragments of a newspaper, and parts of posters from the London Midland Scottish Railway cutting were found tucked down inside the bodywork, showing the carriage was in use in what was then West Cumberland in the mid 1920s (this is now part of Cumbria).

However, we are still in the dark about the vehicle's true identity. We had hoped to find a number stamped somewhere on the bodywork, but no such numbers were found.

The PMV after most of the body work had been removedThe chassis we bought for this project came from a British Railways Parcels and Miscellaneous Van or PMV, which was bought out of national service from Balfour Beattie at Eastleigh in Hampshire. It arrived at Haverthwaite in August 2001, and was placed in storage. The body of the van was in a semi-derelict condition, and apart from some components like the lamp irons which have been salvaged, the rest of the bodywork has been scrapped. This was done by FRT members over the weekend of November 17th/18th 2001 (the Trust had to wait until the end of the operating season to allow the work to be carried out at no danger to the visiting public).

The chassis has been shortened by approximately 4' to fit the carriage body. This work was carried out at Appleby using approved techniques and a coded welder, to a specification laid down by the Furness Railway Trust's engineers and to the satisfaction of Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate.

Another British Rail vehicle - this time a CCT (Covered Combination Truck) was also purchased, and this has taken over the function of store for the L&HR Carriage and Wagon Team that was so ably provided by the old North London coach body for thirty years! This was a useful investment - the CCT could itself in the long term donate it's chassis for a future vintage coach restoration project.

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North London 2nd class Coach Project Restoration Project