Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway

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Restoration of a near-century old railway carriage in Skegness has been boosted by the generosity of a firm of window manufacturers in the resort who have donated the safety glass necessary to re-glaze the vehicle’s windows.

The carriage is being restored to working order in the Skegness Water Leisure Park after 37 years out of use, by a team of volunteers, from a charitable trust which supports the conservation of historic vehicles on the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway. Some make a round trip of up to 160 miles to operate carry out restoration and maintenance on the railway.

Now, thanks to the generosity of Piper Windows, that work will be speeded up ,enabling the original drop lights to be reinstated, saving the volunteers a substantial sum. The company is based within the sound of the trains’ whistles and route,  in nearby Church Lane, Winthorpe, Skegness.

The carriage is one of four built in 1925 for the Ashover Light Railway in Derbyshire, by the Gloucester Rail, Carriage and Wagon Company. Within ten years regular passenger trains had ceased on what was a two-foot gauge line between Clay Cross and Ashover. In World War Two, the vehicles were used as a rest room and changing facilities for female workers, recruited by the Clay Cross Company’s factory to help with wartime production.

Afterwards they became cricket pavilions at the company’s  sports ground in Clay Cross. Two were sold to the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway in 1961 where they were repaired, placed on bogies with strengthened underframes and used to carry holidaymakers from the line’s original terminus, near the Humberston bus terminus, to the beach and Fitties Holiday Camp.

When the site closed in 1985, the two carriages, along with all the other rolling stock from the LCLR, went into storage at Burgh-le-Marsh, before moving to the developing Skegness Water Leisure park in 1992, where the railway was being reconstructed.

One of the pair was restored nearly 20 years ago in readiness for reopening in 2009 and in 2017, formed a Royal Train for HRH The Princess Royal (Princess Anne) when she visited the site to see the railway’s unique collection of English narrow gauge vehicles.

However the carriage now to be restored – the LCLR’s carriage # 1 – was a more daunting prospect. Work was begun pre-covid with seats to be fitted from former Leeds (Glasgow?) tramcars, reupholstered with genuine moquette woven for carriage restoration, and new drop-light frames made by one of the volunteers as a “home project” during the covid lock-down.

Work paused to allow rebuilding and restoration of the only carriage built for the Nocton Estates Railway – known as the “Queen Mary” which entered service on the LCLR this summer – and now, completing the work on this vehicle will be one of the main closed-season projects for the volunteers.

John Chappell, spokesman for the LCLR, said: “Piper Windows’ generosity will help our volunteers significantly to complete the restoration and save the railway money, which can now be used to enable rotted timbers to be repaired, the roof to be sealed, the seating to be installed and the bogies and air brake systems to be renovated ready for repainting and a return to service.

“The LCLR has become a unique part of the heritage of Skegness and attracts people from all over to see our unique collection. The safety glass has been delivered to our site and now we have ceased passenger services until next summer, we can press on with 

this work. All of us involved with the railway are very grateful to Piper Windows for making this possible”.

Piper Windows is a family run, locally established business founded in 1983, which prides itself in ensuring the highest quality products as well as outstanding customer service. The company is  delighted to say that the majority of its work comes from customer recommendation, as well as repeat business.

Managing Director Steve Radford said: “We like to support the community of Skegness and the way the volunteers on the railway have restored these priceless parts of our heritage is remarkable. We’re delighted to help the restoration of this historic railway carriage and as Skegness weather is known to be ‘bracing’, strong safe new windows will make travel in the carriage more enjoyable for its passengers”.

The company is located at 49 – 51 Church Lane, Winthorpe, Skegness, PE25 1EF