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Didcot Railway Centre has taken delivery of a GWR carriage that was built in 1887 for the Broad Gauge but could be later converted to Standard Gauge.
The carriage is GWR Coach No. 820, which was built as a Broad Gauge Convertible. This was a coach body designed to fit within the standard loading gauge and mounted on a Standard Gauge underframe, but originally entered service on a Broad Gauge underframe. This was done to meet an immediate need for more Broad Gauge stock, whilst ensuring that the coach bodies could be re-used when the Broad Gauge was finally abolished in 1892.
The coach was originally built as a ‘Tricomposite’ vehicle having first, second, and third-class compartments; the second-class compartment was downgraded to third in about 1907. It was withdrawn from passenger service around 1952 and used as a departmental vehicle.
Originally preserved by Bristol Museums Service, the coach was displayed several times at Swindon Museum and at the National Railway Museum (NRM) at York, before ending up on display at Locomotion, the NRM’s depot at Shildon in County Durham.
The Science Museum Group, of which the NRM is part, occasionally thins out their collection by offering certain exhibits to other accredited museums. Coach No. 820 was offered for relocation last year, and following a successful bid, ownership was transferred from the Science Museum Group to the Great Western Society at Didcot.
The vehicle was transported by road from Shildon to Didcot West Yard. Once the necessary checks had been made, the coach was transferred by rail the short distance to Didcot Railway Centre on 7th May.
The Great Western Society’s long-term aim is to restore the carriage to operational use in the condition it would have been at the point of changeover from Broad to Standard Gauge. As such it will be a valuable addition to the society’s fleet of Victorian carriages.
This article first appeared on www.railadvent.co.uk
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