The West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust have been party to a significant discovery, the remains of Sleeping Car 9037. It is staggering to think the remains of the sleeping car have been resting for over 85 years as part of a bungalow in Cornwall. The Trust is looking at the possibility of saving some of the structure but due to its condition and the very tight time frame involved, Trust experts will be endeavouring to salvage as much they can. The aim is to cut the body into sections capable of being loaded onto a lorry to preserve some useable sections of roof, bodyside panels and floor, (the latter has not yet been exposed or inspected).
Considerable uncertainty remains on how best to dismantle the sections to be removed or how far the floor sections are removable or if they are concreted in. Given its location, and fragility, it is unlikely to be possible to recover the complete body in a single piece. It should, however, be possible to remove sections of it in such a way that the components referred to above could be more easily and safely recovered once the sections had been moved to the WSR.
Chris Austin says; ‘Sleeping Car 9037 was in amazing discovery and forms a key piece of the jigsaw of the three sleeping cars built under the same lot number in 1897. The normal reaction to the offer of a further vehicle would be to reject them, but this is different, because of the close links with our own Sleeping Car 9038 (which already includes parts of 9039) and the fascinating story that together they tell. Preserving what we can of Sleeping Car 9037 is valid in heritage terms and in terms of enhancing the public profile and achievements of the Trust.’
Our restored Sleeping Car 9038 is the star artefact in the Gauge Museum, and this means that we do not have to seek to restore Sleeping Car 9037, but it can form a useful source of items missing from Sleeping Car 9038 and also form the basis of a part reconstruction (one or more compartments), to show the method of construction and the ‘insides’ of a masterpiece of the joiner’s skill. This we cannot do with Sleeping Car 9038 as it is restored as an operational vehicle and appears as the passengers would have seen it.