Model of the completed tentThe photo on the right shows David Newham's model of one of the original eight four-wheeled carriages ordered by the FR from Brown, Marshall and Co of Birmingham in the summer of 1863 and delivered early the following year. Collectively they were the first carriages to carry fare paying passengers on the narrow gauge and are now thought to be the oldest carriages anywhere still in regular use.

By the late 1880s or early 1890s the completely open pair had undergone drastic rebuilds, emerging with enclosed bodies of the same overall dimensions as the other Brown, Marshalls.

When the railway was taken over in 1954, this vehicle required drastic attention and remained in store until the Midland group of the Ffestiniog Railway Society took it away for a full rebuild in 1967. Having discovered the evidence of its original low ends when the panelling was removed, the decision was taken to restore it to original fully open condition, although without its awning. It was returned to the railway in 1970 but the re-build from semi-open to completely open meant that it was unsuitable for ordinary service. In the 1990s permission was given by the HMRI for it to run again for special events providing a suitably competent person was in charge of it. However, a combination of a few fairly minor faults and the need top roster someone to be in charge has meant that it has not run for some time.

The completed leather aprons and canopy fitted to the sumptuously liveried open carriage.

It has been a Heritage Group aspiration for some time to recreate the 'tent' and awnings on this vehicle to restore its authentic appearance. Research was done to ascertain how the awning would have been fitted (and suitably tensioned), with drawings and a working model produced. Volunteers have taken on the task of restoring the vehicle to its original appearance, and additionally strengthening the original wooden underframes with steel inserts. The open carriage itself (the 'flying bench') was re-liveried to match the rest of the Victorian train and the whole tent assembly unveiled somewhat appropriately at the FR's Quirks and Curiosities event in May 2010.


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