Discovering the ducket only made delving into our carriages history more accessible. And much more hands on!
Our journey, three months ago, started with a very shed like carriage, all covered in cladding with mismatched shelves and plant pots scattered around the floor. So, as a team, we decided that we were going to give the carriage a make under. For a more natural look. To do this, we enrolled the help of a crow bar and a bit of elbow grease to remove the cladding from her face and see as to how well preserved she was.
Slowly, bit by bit, we began to undress her, removing every piece of wood like an old item of clothing, revealing more and more of her beautiful structure, until we got to the bottom. At her bottom laid the worst of it. She was saggy, rotten and quite frankly, old. Almost as though impersonating a human, except no amount of gym work would’ve brought her bottom up again.
Although there was an obvious amount of work needed, we were faced with a structure of the past. a real gem of the rail. She was beautiful. Despite not being alive when she first ran on the rail, I couldn’t help but feel as though I knew her like an old friend. Yet why did she lay in our garden, sunken, naked and dead in front of us? Why is she hiding so many of her secrets from us? And who treated her this badly as to dump her in a back garden?
Once she was stripped of her make up, we began the excavation to find more artefacts surrounding the carriage on the exterior. We weren’t disappointed. On her sides there was clearly engraved ‘GUARD’ and, from images that bluebell railway have sent to us, you can see that this would have originally been in gold.
On the right of the guard engraving, right in the middle of the two oblong shapes was a prominent piece of wood. Immediately we assumed that this piece of wood was there for recreational reasoning and almost threw it away, but looking into it further we understand that it is actually an original door! Immediately we began looking for a “T” key on ebay and, to all our surprise we found one! the double doors of the carriage opened and, for the first time, we were beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, (if you excuse the pun). We informed Bluebell railway and they confirmed that these double doors were in fact the original doors and that there was three more sets of single doors on the carriage in the passenger compartment (and the same on the far side). Quickly we began to find the other doors on this side of the carriage, but unfortunately we were unable to get them open because of how much she had sunk into the ground.
So, without further ado, we decided that we should replace the old wood at the bottom and repair her as best we could, before we started with a repaint and makeover to prevent her from rotting away anymore than she had already done. Although we are not sure about the colour of the paint, we only painted her this colour to stop her wood from rotting anymore.
Once we put in the new slabs of wood and painted her, we could fully recognise the beauty of something so simple as a railway carriage. We were determined, more than ever now, to get her done and finished! We can’t wait to have her fully refurbished! Onward and upward.