We are pleased to have taken delivery of GWR Coach No. 820, a vehicle built in 1887 as a Broad Gauge Convertible. That is to say the coach body, was designed to fit within the standard loading gauge and to be mounted on a standard gauge underframe, but originally entered service on a broad-gauge underframe. This was done to meet an immediate need for more broad gauge stock , whilst ensuring that the coach bodies could be re-used when the broad gauge was finally abolished in 1892.
Originally built as a ‘Tricomposite’ vehicle having first, second and third class compartments, the second class compartment was downgraded to third in about 1907.
The coach was withdrawn from passenger service around 1952 becoming a departmental vehicle. Originally preserved by Bristol Museums Service, it made several visits to Swindon Museum and to the National Railway Museum (NRM) at York, before ending up at the NRM's depot in Shildon.
Occasionally the Science Museum Group, including the NRM, thin out their collection by offering certain exhibits to other accredited museums. Coach No. 820 was offered for relocation last year. Following a successful bid, ownership was transferred from the Science Museum Group, to the Great Western Society at Didcot. The vehicle was transported by Road from Shildon to Didcot West Yard and, once the necessary checks had been made, by rail the short distance to Didcot Railway Centre on 7th May 2022.
It is our long term aim to restore the carriage to operational use in the condition it would have been at the point of changeover. As such it would add to our small fleet of Victorian carriages.