Plans to reinstate part of the former Driffield to Malton railway line as a heritage and tourist attraction took a giant step forward when the Yorkshire Wolds Railway announced the purchase of its first item of rolling stock.
The coach, built in 1957, is to be restored and will form the basis of the railway’s planned Visitor Centre near Sledmere.
The YWR hopes to open the Visitor Centre to the public during 2013.
The coach is a British Railways Mark 1 Brake Gangway (BG) coach.
This design of coach was generally used as a guard van and luggage store, and as such consists of two large internal spaces rather than seating compartments, which makes it ideal for use as the YWR’s Visitor Centre.
It is about 18 metres / 60 feet long and weighs 32 tonnes.
The coach had previously been owned privately and based at the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway, where it is currently awaiting transport to the YWR site.
YWR’s Visitor Centre received planning permission in May 2012, and now the coach has been acquired work is due to begin on site later in the autumn.
The Visitor Centre will feature archive documents and objects from the railway, which closed in 1958, along with exhibitions about the line’s history, the memories of those who worked and travelled on the line, and the YWR’s own plans for the future. The coach will also initially provide storage facilities for the YWR’s site works, but it is hoped that future purchases of rolling stock will allow the Visitor Centre to be expanded over the next few years.
The Visitor Centre will also be the base for the future reinstatement of part of the line as an operational heritage railway.
YWR Chairman, Peter Dymock, said “this is another big step forward in what has already been an exciting year for us.
“We’re sure that once our new coach is on site it will attract a lot of interest from local people and tourists travelling in or through the area. Having something on site that people can see with their own eyes is hugely important in increasing our visibility and our ability to generate income and attract funding, which in turn is vital for our plans to run trains on the line for the first time in over 50 years.”
The purchase of the coach has been funded out of existing YWR reserves and by generous loans and donations from YWR members. YWR Treasurer, John Lidster, said “The window of opportunity to purchase this coach was small, and it is suited our needs so well we really needed to react quickly. It’s thanks to the generous assistance of our members that we’ve been able to go ahead.”
As well as the cost of the coach itself, the YWR also needs to raise funds to transport it to the Visitor Centre site and to purchase track for it to be sited on. Costs for these items are currently being researched, along with potential external funding sources, but Mr Lidster added that donations from members of the public will of course always be gratefully received, and businesses interested in sponsoring the YWR or its Visitor Centre should contact him via the website.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the coach in particular or the railway in general can log on to www.yorkshirewoldsrailway.org.uk or phone 01377 338053.