The Kent & East Sussex Railway’s Carriage No. 177 the Family Saloon, will be in action during the Half Term holiday from Saturday the 11th to Sunday the 19th of February – excluding Monday the 13th and Friday the 17th of February.
Saturday the 11th of February will see the Family Saloon carry its first paying passengers in more than 10 years after a meticulous restoration was completed by the volunteer Carriage and Wagon team at the heritage railway. The restoration has been possible thanks to a generous donation of a large amount of paint by Craftmaster Paints Ltd who are one of the Kent & East Sussex Railway’s
oldest supply partners. The railway has a keen focus on restoration and recently launched an appeal to restore and conserve a Great Western Railway diesel railcar W20 in a bid to see it back in action.
The carriage was built by South Eastern & Chatham Railway at the Ashford works in 1900 and was created in order to provide wealthy Victorian families with the opportunity to travel together to locations which were unable to be reached by their local railway. The Family Saloon began its service in February 1900 and featured:
a separate luggage compartment with double doors at one end
a saloon area
a vestibule and a short corridor leading to a five-seat compartment
a WC cubicle on one side of the corridor and a further one with a wash hand basin opposite
After several years, plus the advent of the motor car the carriage layout was changed into an invalid saloon and was later sold to Longmoor Military Railway before making its way to Tenterden in 1985. The carriage’s current layout is that of a ‘picnic’ style open carriage with side bench seats in keeping with its design. The Family Saloon will be used at special events and will begin with bird-spotting and story-telling sessions for children during February Half Term week. The carriage which can carry up to 20 people, will also be available for exclusive hire for special celebrations and group bookings once the 2023 season formally gets underway in April.