The WSRA Steam & Vintage Rally 2019 was held at Norton Fitzwarren over the weekend of 03/04 August. The Trust exhibited its Sleeping Car 9038 and Toplight Carriage no. 6705, both vehicles looking resplendent in the summer sunshine.
9038 was one of three Sleeping Cars introduced by the GWR in 1897 to carry First Class passengers between Paddington and the port of Fishguard and the Irish ferry. The coach was in service until 1931. In 1933 the body was sold and became part of a bungalow, spending the next fifty years under a tiled roof. In 1985 this historic vehicle was rescued and came to the West Somerset Railway for restoration. With a restored GWR underframe (chassis) and much interior woodwork donated from No 9039 by the Great Western Society at Didcot, the coach has been restored to 1925 condition. The Sleeping Car should now be safely back in the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard following all the excitement of the weekend.
No 6705 is a Collett Brake Corridor Composite coach, built at Swindon in 1938. In the early 1960s, it was overhauled by Western Region and was shipped to America as part of a heritage railway collection based in Bellows Falls, Vermont, then latterly it was sent to Steamtown, in Pennsylvania. Surplus to requirements it came close to being scrapped but was rescued in 2006/2007, being shipped back to the UK for restoration.
Over the two days of the Steam Rally the Trust shared a stand with the WSRA, on the show field near to the main show ring. The Trust was able to promote its activities to visitors and exhibitors alike. We were also pleased to show off a fine collection of restored vintage suitcases, many of which were for sale.