Friday, 16 November 2012

Graceful days of travel re-lived on railmotor coach

Graceful days of travel re-lived on railmotor coach

In April 2011 I did a little post about a 1903 "autocar" - an early form of petrol-electric railway engine carriage - that had been restored thanks to an Heritage Lottery grant.  This was one of Britain's first [part] electric-powered locomotives, a glimpse into the history of a train type we now take for granted and a very rare example being one of only three ever built.

The 1908 Steam Railmotor that features in this story from Cornwall would seem to owe something to the North Eastern Railway's slightly earlier autocar - certainly in its overall design and appearance - but still retained the tried and tested steam propulsion of more traditional locomotives of the time.

Now, having lived a life of self-propelled coach, locomotive-hauled carriage and even a railway office it has finally been restored to its original condition after decades of fund-raising and thanks - once more - to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (perhaps even part of the same pot?).  Last Sunday it undertook its first passenger-carrying run under its own power since the 1930s, along the achingly picturesque East Looe River branch line of the West Coast Railway, and will return for a further series of journeys this weekend.

Another unique and fascinating piece of railway history has thus been saved for future generations' enjoyment thanks to the hard work of volunteers and enthusiasts plus the collective might of the Heritage Lottery Fund and First Great Western.  Steam Railmotor 93 makes a pretty sight chuffing along the banks of the Looe and long may it continue to do so.


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