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Midland Railway steam railmotor 2234, officers saloon M45010M: can it be saved?

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Midland Railway steam railmotor 2234, officers saloon M45010M

 

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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.

 

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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?

 

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Dava

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If the Great Western Society at Didcot can do a similar restoration, why not?

It will need a lot of money though.

Is it worth considering restoring the coach as a directors saloon as a step towards restoring to a rail motor?

 

Gordon A

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There are not too many photos of the MR railmotors, here is an official photo of 2233, courtesy of Grace's Guide. I have a copy of the Midland Railway Society booklet at home, and George Dow's 1971 Railway Magazine article where I first came across it. There are also some very good 7mm scale models. 

 

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Dava

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Maybe have a word with the LMS carriage Soc, I know its a bit before their time, but they might be able to step in.....

 

Andy G

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Just hope the woodworm keep on holding hands....

 

But the people to get in touch with is surely the MRT, VCT or Stately Trains. They all may have turned it down though.

 

 

 

Jason

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In other news, I learned today that the nrm have bought some 1984 vintage shopping centre artwork for a six figure sum. Good to see their priorities are straight....

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I tend to think of the 1980s as the decade that taste forgot, but don't want to alienate anyone from that period!

 

The Stately Trains & NER Autocar groups probably have more successful experience than anyone else in the successful restorations of vehicles of this type & condition.

 

Dava

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One of my compatriots on Green Ayre, John Patrick, built a very good model of the railmotor and trailer from Home of 0 Gauge kits. Here is the motor when we were at Warley on 2016.

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I would love to see it properly cared for.

 

Jamie

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Such a shame. I remember being given permission to go round this vehicle when it was in the middle road at Shildon in order to get some photographs; at the time it was all looking good for its eventual restoration.

 

Jidenco/Falcon Brass did a 4mm kit of this and its trailer. John Redrup of London Road Models has just released his own 4mm version of the railcar; I saw a kit on his stand at the recent ExpoEM. It looks very nice.

 

Mark

Edited by MarkC
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On 12/09/2019 at 19:59, brack said:

In other news, I learned today that the nrm have bought some 1984 vintage shopping centre artwork for a six figure sum. Good to see their priorities are straight....

 

 

Oh dear.  It is posts like this that boil my blood. Whilst I realise that the NRM has to be selective, deaccessioning unique  pieces of rolling stock and letting them go to stand in windswept locations totally unprotected is surely the exact opposite of the NRM's purpose.   It would have been a logical move for this vehicle to be relocated to the large shed at the Midland Railway Centre in Butterley but...........  I understand that centre is also quite disorganised - at least from the public viewpoint. 

 

Pity it wasn't teak livery then it could have stayed undercover at Shildon.

 

Thanks "Dava" for bringing it to our attention.   

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I've always taken an interest in this vehicle, having first read about it through a feature on the MR steam railcars in about 1974.  In fact I think it may have been by George Dow, who rescued it from BR service and used it as a holiday home for some time.  To be honest, there are probably too many vehicles saved for preservation.  That said, I would dearly like for somebody to provide a covered home for M45010M and for a bit of restoration to start.

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3 minutes ago, Lyonesse said:

To be honest, there are probably too many vehicles saved for preservation. 

Yes, too many mk1 coaches, too many black 5s, too many ex gwr locos, too many j94/hunslet austerity 060st, too many bulleid pacifics, too many recently retired diesels, too many quarry hunslets (and if there is even 1 of them to be saved, too many pacers).

 

In an ideal world, there would be less duplication in preservation so the money could be spread around looking after more interesting locos, carriages and wagons and giving us a more complete historical record. However, we have what we have, because someone 50 years ago put hand in pocket and saved what they could or what they chose (and if woodham's was the only place still selling locos, everyone bought what they had rusting on the scrap lines).

 

What is more concerning is something such as this coach, once owned for the nation and unique, from a time period little represented in preserved stock lists, being dumped and rotting. Contrast it with the NER autocar or the NSR coaches to see what could be done - they're unique and provide interest and an attraction to their railways.

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On 12/09/2019 at 19:59, brack said:

In other news, I learned today that the nrm have bought some 1984 vintage shopping centre artwork for a six figure sum. Good to see their priorities are straight....

I don't think 'priorities ' is part of the NRM vocabulary anymore.

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I am going to contact the Honey Farm as current custodians/owners of the vehicle, to enquire their intentions for it, when I can compose the rightly worded message.

 

Having looked again at the Midland Rwy Soc book of 2008, the vehicle was stored outside under tarpaulins 1977-2005 when they were removed at Shildon, and was pretty decayed at that point, so it was pretty bad when it got to the farm. 

 

But as it's complete externally [ie on bogies] and still restorable, surely too important to let go. 

 

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From  the  photos  the  vehicle  looks in  reasonable  condition,  certainly  well  restorable.

But  with  the  framework  left  exposed  it  will  be going  down  hill  all  the  time. 

Ideally  a  candidate  for  a  full  rebuild  back  to  its  original  railmotor  form  but  as  a  hauled  carriage  it  would  be  perfectly  correct  and  worthwhile  project.  This  work  can  be  undertaken  outside (not  ideal)  but  the  important  thing  is  finding  someone  to  commit the  many  months/years  to  do  it.

 

Pete

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16 hours ago, brack said:

Yes, too many mk1 coaches, too many black 5s, too many ex gwr locos, too many j94/hunslet austerity 060st, too many bulleid pacifics, too many recently retired diesels, too many quarry hunslets (and if there is even 1 of them to be saved, too many pacers).

 

In an ideal world, there would be less duplication in preservation so the money could be spread around looking after more interesting locos, carriages and wagons and giving us a more complete historical record.

 

I see where you're coming from and it's not unreasonable but I also wonder if having some duplicates (especially several) has its upsides, with a useful degree of commonality with spares, operating and maintaining familiarity etc.

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Some restored vehicles started from a worse position than that, the NER railcar included.

 

So changed once it became a hauled Inspection Saloon that I don't think restoration as a Railmotor would be sensible. But it would be a great vehicle to have as a special vehicle on a preservation line (private parties, etc).

 

My life going through rather a lot of turmoil at present, but, in principle, I would love to get involved.

 

PS: It does seem a bit strange that they can't even afford the money to cover it properly with some tarpaulins. Or could that cause more problems than leaving it in the open air?

Edited by Joseph_Pestell
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