Carriage heads to museum

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A former Southend pier Victorian railway carriage has made its way to Chelmsford Museum recently where its journey terminates.

Designed at Colonel Crompton’s factory in Chelmsford, and built in Loughborough in 1899, the ‘Toastrack’ carriage, so called because of its shape, ran along Southend Pier, packed with seafront visitors in the heyday of seaside town holidays.

The Crompton carriage eventually passed into the ownership of Chelmsford City Council and was stored at Sandford Mill until the redevelopment of Chelmsford Museum where it could be displayed, part-funded by the National Lottery.

In May 2018, it was sent to Alan Keef Ltd, a specialist railway carriage restoration company, near Hereford.

It was stripped down, repaired and earliest paint colours matched. The wheels and their mechanisms were seized up, but now run freely.

In November, with restoration work complete, the Toastrack travelled to Chelmsford Museum.

The carriage’s arrival took a great deal of care as it was gently lowered by crane and rolled along tracks into its display case at the Museum.

The installation will soon be fully complete and this icon of Victorian Essex will be on display for all to see.

The arrival of the Toastrack is part of the big redevelopment of the older part of Chelmsford Museum, which will open next summer.

Councillor Susan Sullivan, Cabinet Member for the Museum, said: “The Heritage Lottery Funding has enabled the redevelopment of the Victorian part of the Museum. This will allow us to open up so many more artefacts and experiences to the public.

“It’s wonderful that things like this historic railway carriage, which was made by one of Chelmsford’s most incredible inventors and which delighted so many people during its time at Southend Pier, can once again become part of family days out.”

For more information please visit www.chelmsford.gov.uk/museum

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