Railway Carriages as Holiday Homes
Holiday Ideas: Static Railway Carriages
If you are a railway buff, or on the lookout for unusual accommodation for your next holiday, why not consider renting a converted railway carriage?
The idea is not new: the Times newspaper once wrote about two 19th-century railway carriages in West Wittering in West Sussex "that have been turned into a seaside holiday home after the First World War and have now been saved from the scrapheap" (Times OnLine, May 19th 2008).
Today, there are several locations, and indeed various types of rolling stock to choose from. The following are some examples that stood out during my research. If you are thinking of buying your own railway carriage for conversion I have included a special section about that too.
Aberporth Express: "Wendy"
This railway carriage was built around 1905 as a sleeper coach that travelled on the Great Western Railway. This particular coach was called 'Wendy' after the character in Peter Pan (published the year before). Having travelled the length and breadth of the Great Western line between England and Wales, 'Wendy' was eventually retired from service in 1937. She has lovingly been restored back to her 1930s condition. In 2007 Wendy was featured in an article in The Guardian newspaper
Caledonian Camping Coach Company
Loch Awe, Scotland
The coach was built in 1956, is a British Railways Mk1 model (number 4494) and was used to carry passengers on the busy London to Edinburgh line. She was moved to her present location in the 1980s and converted to a cafÃ© known as 'The Loch Awe Tea Train'.
Many of her original features have been retained by the owners and she comprises of 2 bedrooms, kitchen, shower, sitting room and a dining room made up to look like a period restaurant car.
Coalport Station Holidays
Coalport Station is located in the Severn Valley and used to be part of the railway line running from Shrewsbury to Bridgnorth.
Due to low usage, the route was closed and part dismantled in the late 60s. The Severn Valley Steam Railway now runs part of it as a popular heritage line running both steam and diesel locomotives.
Coalport station itself is a private home and hosts two ex-British Railways Mk1 coaches offering accommodation for 4 to 6 people. They are loated near the historic Ironbridge Gorge, close to a river and surrounded by trees. The rural setting is complemented by traditional pubs serving local food and ales.
Los Dos Vagones
If you fancy combining your railway interest with a trip to South America then the Rural Tourist Lodge "Los Dos Vagones" ( The Two Boxcars) might be just the ticket (pardon the pun!).
The Lodge is located in the County of Magdalena which enjoys international recognition due to the presence of some outstanding natural features. An example of this is the "Parque Costero del Sur". It was declared a Natural Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO, and is an excellent place to visit if you are a nature lover.
The recycled railroad boxcars have a maximum capacity of 6 people each, and consists of two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and all the usual basic features you would expect.
Railholiday Travelling Post Office
St. Germans, Cornwall, England
Railholiday is a family enterprise based in Cornwall which offers you a choice of three sympathetically restored carriages:
A British Rail Mk1 Corridor Coach sits adjacent to the platform at Hayle railway station. This carriage retains most of its original features and is within easy walking distance of Hayle Beach.
Secondly, the Travelling Post Office wagon is located on a railway siding adjoining the platform at the village station of St Germans in Southeast Cornwall. Lastly, an old luggage van is parked on the western end of St Germans Station
Rogart Railway Station Sleeper Coaches
Stay on a first class train in the scenic Scottish Highland village of Rogart, beside a working railway station.
You have a choice of carriages named after Scottish whiskies:
Clynelish and Glenmorangie both have four bedroom compartments, each sleeping two. Both carriages have a shared kitchen, dining room, living area and two toilets and showers.
Glenfiddich comprises two self-contained sections. One section has two beds in one compartment. The other has two compartments, sleeping two in each. Both sections have their own independent facilities.
Waitomo Caves, New Zealand
This 1950s passenger carriage is situated near the popular Waitomo Caves in the Waikoto region of New Zealand. The word Waitomo derives from the Maori language: wai for water, tomo for sinkhole; in other words "water passing through a hole".
The carriage itself has 3 separate rooms and sleeps up to 4 people. It is located in a secluded part of a farm, thus offering peace and quiet away from the crowds.
Buying Your Own Railway Carriage?
Looking for inspiration, suggestions, ideas?
If this lens has captured your imagination and you are considering owning your own disused railway carriage to convert as a home then the following information may provide a useful starting point:
Railway Carriages in the Press
Rail Carriage Hotels: Britain's Best
Vintage rail carriages make a fun and romantic alternative to hotels and guest houses. Clover Stroud looks at Britain's best. Telegraph, published 24th May 2010.
Stock Suppliers and Brokers
A UK-based broker of railway rolling stock, including coaches and locomotives.
A comprehensive directory of links for all things related to railways including useful lists of suppliers in North America.
Comprehensive information of UK Locomotives and carriages either in service, stored or decommissioned. Also includes a section of rolling stock for sale.
Other Ways to Use Old Railway Carriages
Funky ways that is...
Children's Hospital Radio Station
In 2005 Great Ormond Street Hospital in London received an unusual donation which was to become the new home for the in-house radio station: a 1983 Jubilee Line underground railway carriage! The wheels, batteries and some of the seats were removed and the carriage was sliced in two and re-attached at a right angle to fit into the building.
A collection of old London Underground railway carriages have been hoisted onto a disused railway line and turned into flexible office space and artist studios. The conversion forms part of the Village Underground project. The site is a section of the Broad Street Rail Viaduct that splits the Shoreditch area into two. The viaduct was built in 1848 and used to run for 8,6 miles but had been left derelict for over 20 years.
© 2011 Charles Nullens