The Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust has launched an appeal to raise £10,500 to refurbish one of its carriages.
A Mk.1 SK compartment railway carriage, M26049, is one of the regulars on the railway’s passenger services.
For many years, the carriage has been owned by a private consortium of Trust members, but following a protracted transfer, it is now owned by the Trust.
Thanks to the Trust’s Volunteer Restoration Team, the exterior is in presentable condition. However, the interior and passenger compartments leave much to be desired.
The moquette is in very poor condition, the seat backs and cushions in some of the eight compartments are from various sources, and some of them don’t even have matching moquette.
The aim is that the SK will be restored and matched to the standard that has been achieved with the restoration of the Trust’s second compartment carriage.
For some time, both visitors and working volunteers on site have commented about the very poor condition of the SK seats. It had reached the point that some volunteers expressed embarrassment when showing visitors into their allocated compartments where they were presented with torn, well-worn, and dirty seats.
A further examination of the seats was undertaken on 13 December 2021. It was found that their condition has deteriorated further, with most compartments having well-worn or badly ripped seats. This clearly presents a very poor image of the railway to visitors which the Trust aims to redress.
With Christmas operations finished, there are no further train services until the spring. That will allow the seats to be removed and sent away for reupholstering, as the Trust’s contract upholsterer has capacity in the first quarter of this year to complete the work and return them before the operating season begins around April.
Visitors and volunteers have praised the quality of the chain link moquette used in the Buffet and BSK carriages used in the passenger train formations. That is the standard to be aimed for with SK M26049
Besides refurbishing the seats, further work is needed on the SK to replace some of the Formica panelling that has warped, and to restring the luggage racks.
Anyone wishing to donate to the restoration can do so via the Trust’s website.