Above, Joan takes a short train of De-luxe coaching stock past the former shed building in July 2008.
Our usual train consists of three or four of what Henry Greenly described in 1913 as ‘cars de luxe’. Each coach has five seats, room for 10 adults, or rather more children when pressed, all facing forwards.
The bodies are wooden, and very tough (they have had to be). They are carried on four-wheeled bogies, some of which still have axlebox covers from Messrs Milnes Voss, manufacturers of tramcars in Birkenhead during the 1910s. When suitably oiled, these bogies still roll very freely; they are truly a design that has stood the test of time.
We are proud to say that these coaches are not ‘restored’ (looking at them closely will confirm this!). They are simply still doing what they were originally built to do.
Over the winter of 2000/2001, a fifth coach was built by Justin Bell, similar to the four vintage examples, using two spare ‘Milnes’ bogies. This vehicle has since been adapted with air brakes and a section for passengers in wheelchairs. The Guard/Brake and Wheelchair De-Luxe carriage bringing up the rear of a train in July 2008.
In November 2000, two small open passenger coaches and a bogie ballast wagon were acquired, together with parts for other small vehicles. These had been built originally for a private railway in Sussex.
In May 2002, further parts of original Rhyl bogie coaches arrived, consisting of two underframes and seven more ‘Milnes’ type bogies. Both of these vehicles have since been fully restored, with new decking and hardwood seats.
We also built new a further wheelchair carriage, so since the railway’s centenary in 2011 we have been able to operate two rakes of four cars de luxe. One rake is red, the second blue to match the railway’s 1960s rolling stock livery. Both of these sets have been fitted with air brakes powered principally by axle driven air compressors.
During Autumn 2016 we scrapped the timber open bodies of the two coaches purchased in 2000. On the two chassis we built new enclosed coaches so as to improve capacity of the railway to run trains in poor weather.
One of these is thought to be approximately 100 years old, whilst the second is an exact replica, made in Lima, using original Cagney ironwork.
Although manufactured in large numbers during the 1900s, these little vehicles are now very rare worldwide (even more so than the Cagney locomotives). We were fortunate to be able to acquire these examples from Jeremy Martin, who had discovered them and organised their restoration and export whilst he was working in Peru.
Currently these vehicles are stored; we hope to be able to again demonstrate their operation on special occasions at some time in the future.