Gwili Vintage Carriage Group at the Gwili Railway
Taff Vale Railway Coach No.220
In the glorious years of the 1890's, private railway companies everywhere where turning out a vast range of wooden bodied coaches. One such company was the Taff Vale Railway. The company was said to be the most prosperous in Wales In 1891 their Carriage and Wagon department at Cathays built two coaches to a new diagram. They where four wheeled brake third coaches numbered 219 and 220, for some reason not known to us only these two where ever built.
Their purpose was to work the trains taking the miners to the pits of the rapidly expanding south Wales coal fields
Then like all the other 'little' railways, the GWR swallowed up the glory and individuality of the TVR in 1923. TVR 220 was renumber GWR 3846 on the 30th of May 1925. The coach only lasted ten months in service with the GWR before being withdrawn to make way for plush, draught-free, heated (and even worse) metal bodied rolling stock
The body was then sold as a garden shed to a family in Stuckland, Herefordshire. Unfortunately the under frame had a close encounter with a cutting torch.
From its retirement home the Taff, as it has become affectionately know, saw a world war , depression and many notable events. Then over 51 years later, the Gwili preservation society purchased body on the 13th November 1977. The body was then moved to the headquarters of the Gwili at Bronwydd Arms, Carmarthen.
At the time the Gwili was one of many concerns struggling to survive and build a credible railway/ The general rule of no money, lack of volunteers and a far more urgent cry for financial from permanent way than C &W applied. For this reason the coach was not worked on much. It was used as a shop , storage area, model railway and finally as a mess room, Adding insult to injury you may think!
The Brynteg Story
The coach was then sold to the Brynteg School Preservation Group. The group formed by two head of department and a group of school pupils. They had already restored a GWR Loriot 'B' and a Mink covered van as well as many other railway items. So an old wooden bodied coach was a real challenge for the group. It was at this point that this article writer joined the school.
Our first obstacle was to find a suitable under frame . Our search led us to the then well stocked scrap yard at Barry. We purchased an ex-LNER brake van. Then simply knocked the top off and armed with overalls, goggles and wire brushes we set about cleaning up the metal work. The work carried out during dinner hours and after school.
When the frames where in a condition ready to receive the body we decided to do a final check on the size before arranging the move. A head of physic and CDT (wood work to the more of you readers) couldn't't have made a mistake of 18.5 inches could they? Well….nobody perfect!
The frame then had to be cut in half and an extra metal welded in place. It is worth mentioning that the experts tell us the modified frame is stronger than the original.
The body was eventually delivered to the school site in September 1986. The group set about replacing partitions, making seats, stripping off the original graining and varnishing, making new drop lights and replacing paneling and bedding etc.
As well as the group members working on the coach, the CDT department was able to tie the project in with the school syllabus. The COE pupils taking painting and decoration where able to test there skill on the coach. The restoration of the Body is a story in its own right.
Click here to find out more about the Gwili Vintage Carriage Group.