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Rare railway find uncovered

From:http://www.bexhillobserver.net/community/nostalgia/rare_railway_find_uncovered_1_2911247

Rare railway find uncovered

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26/7/11- Staff from the Bluebell Railway remove sections of a railway carriage dating back to 1870 for restoration. The carriage has served as a garden shed in Lunsford Cross for many years.


Published on Sunday 31 July 2011 10:00

A GOOD tidy up is often a householder’s first thought on taking over a property - but Jo Proudlove was quite unprepared for what her spring cleaning revealed.

 

For what she thought was a ramshackle old shed in the garden of her new home at Lunsford’s Cross, on the outskirts of Bexhill, turned out to be a piece of railway history that set enthusiasts salivating.

Hidden beneath false gables and a pitched roof were the surprisingly well-preserved remains of an 1866 railway carriage, once used to carry passengers on the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway: initially in first class luxury, but later downgraded to second.

It was designed by John Chester Craven, is 19 feet long, is largely constructed of mahogany, has three compartments and carries the number 204.

Jo’s father, John Proudlove, said: “When we got it properly uncovered, I can only say it resembled three stage-coaches bolted together, although unfortunately it has lost its original roof and floor.

“Being made of hardwood, it had nevertheless stood the test of time quite well, and we even found the old handles and traces of the railway company’s garter-mark logo still intact.”

The last person to have lived at Jo’s cottage was there for 58 years, and the hunt is now on to find out more about how the old carriage, which would originally have had four running wheels and would have been able to accommodate some 18 passengers, came to be in the garden.

The carriage has now been carefully dismantled and taken by lorry to the Bluebell Railway at Horsted Keynes, near Haywards Heath, where steam preservation enthusiasts eventually hope to restore it and put it on display, aptly bearing the name “Josephine”.

A Bluebell Railway spokesman said: “Finds like this help us to understand more about carriage development.

“This is a very interesting and rare discovery, and we would like to thank Jo Proudlove for generously donating the carriage to the Bluebell Railway.

“It would be interesting to hear from anyone who has more information about this carriage in its post railway life.”

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