Midland Railway steam railmotor 2234, officers saloon M45010M
Details from plaque on the coach:
"This coach was built in Derby for the Midland Railway in 1904 as a Steam Rail Motor [number 2234], it was a self propelled carriage with a boiler and steam engine in one end to drive it along. As an exercise in cost cutting on branch lines, it was ahead of its time and only lasted as a passenger rail motor until 1907, when it was converted into an Officers Saloon for directors and officials to observe the railway network from.
In 1917 the boiler and engine were removed and it then was hauled by a conventional locomotive across the network when lines needed inspecting or special visits were made. It was preserved in 1968 and became a holiday home in Mid Wales until the NRM bought it in the late 1970s. It is unique as the only surviving steam rail motor coach from the Midland Railway.
It is mahogany and teak and the rooms are as they were when it was an Officers Saloon. It has come to Chain Bridge Honey Farm from the National Railway Museum due to insufficient space, time or resources to ensure the vehicles future."
The carriage was originally preserved & restored by George Dow, career railway manager & historian. Donated to the NRM, not sold I believe. Never exhibited at the NRM, at one time curator David Jenkinson proposed its restoration as a steam railmotor but this was judged too complex and costly for the NRM to undertake. It was stored outside at York for some years and deteriorated badly. Later moved to Shildon where it was stored inside on a centre road in the hall, out of view. When the NRM reviewed its collection and decided to de-accession some items owing to their condition, no future prospects and being surplus to the collection, this vehicle was one of these but the decision was little known at the time and I do not know which other preservation groups with an interest in Midland Railway vehicles, carriage restoration expertise and covered accommodation it may have been offered to. Nor do I know what proposals for curation or conservation the Chain Bridge Honey Farm may have made, nor the conditions of their acquisition.
It now sits on a length of track in a field in Northumberland, completely exposed to the Borders weather without a canvas cover. It is deteriorating steadily and no longer weathertight. The Honey Farm does not seem to be the well-run visitor attraction it was a few years ago [I last visited in 2013] and the tractor and vehicle collection is now quite disorganized and does not seem to be looked after. I do not wish to be critical of the Farm but they clearly do not have the resources or capability to restore or to conserve this vehicle from deteriorating from the weather until it becomes beyond rescue.
The NRM are responsible for donating this historic and unique vehicle to a location which is now unable to safeguard it. We have seen volunteer groups raise funds and organize to restore the GWR steam railcar set to full working order and also the NER Autocar, both with new engines and frame replacements or rebuilds, so such ambitious restorations are possible. Alternative uses for the vehicle could include restoration as a hauled saloon, ideal for adaptation for disabled access through double doors, or static restoration. What should not be allowed to happen is for the vehicle to deteriorate in this way. What is to be done? Is anyone interested?