Rail carriage’s final steps to cottage glory

It was once used to ferry railway passengers along the Great Western Railway but now as it takes its final steps towards being restored to its original 1930s glory it will be taking youngsters and adults alike on a different journey – into the past.

The final touches are being put in place to convert an old railway carriage based at Holt Railway Station into a 1930s cottage, to be used as an educational tool.

Railway Cottages were first created after the first world war for soldiers and their families returning from the war, with Victorian railway carriages sold cheaply, some for as little as �5, to be converted into homes.

The six-tonne railway carriage at Holt was built in 1899 and used as a carriage with Great Western Railway before being converted into a cottage and moved to Kerdiston near Reepham in the 1930s.

The owners, Serena and Richard Hilton, donated the cottage, which until around six years ago had still been lived in, to the North Norfolk Railway, with the aim of converting it back to the way it would have looked in 1935, complete with period furnishings, tin bath, outside privy' and cottage garden.

The carriage made its way to Holt from Reepham in June this year, on the back of a haulage lorry.

It is being transformed by the Poppy Line Education Group, with the help of a �47,000 heritage lottery grant.

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A new kitchen, with an old-fashioned metal range, and scullery extension has been added and the main carriage stripped back to its original doors and windows.

A small front room and two bedrooms have also been constructed inside what was once seating for 60 passengers.

Jenny Phillips, educational officer with North Norfolk Railway, said: 'Most of the building work has been done, now we are looking at getting all the furniture and other pieces in place.'

Items they have had donated include crockery, chairs, rugs, bedding and clothes. They have also got a dedicated group, nicknamed the 'nifty knitters', who are knitting clothes to be hung in the railway cottage as well.

Ms Phillips said: 'We have had contact from a few people who spent their childhood living in a railway cottage, or knew other people that did, we want to invite them to come and have a look when we have got everything in place, and also a social historian, just to make sure we have got everything right, and as it would have been in the 1930s.'

It is hoped the cottage will be officially opened the day after the Royal Wedding, on Saturday, April 30 next year, with Paul Atterbury, a presenter on the Antiques Roadshow and patron of the Poppyline Education Group, doing the honours. For the opening, they also hope to have a visit from a vintage steam train.

Theo Fanthorpe, vice-chairman of the Poppy Line Education Group, said: 'The cottage is going to be a great tool for us, it will be used for educational purposes and also as a reminiscence tool, it will also be open to the public on certain days.

'One of the next things we want to do is start on the vegetable garden, so we can have a 'dig for victory' area outside.'

Items they are still in need of include a wooden wheelbarrow, railway sleepers, and also any willing volunteers to take on sponsorship of some of the garden area.

Fakenham Garden Centre is already sponsoring a herb garden which will be in the grounds of the cottage.

To offer donated items, contact Jenny Phillips on 01263 710483 or email, jphillips@nnrailway.co.uk.