It is with great sadness, that I announce the death on Sunday, December
5th of Chris van den Arend, long-time supporter of the West Somerset
Railway in various guises, and particularly well-known for his work in
the restoration of the sleeping car currently in the gauge Museum at
Bishops Lydeard, and most recently with the installation of the
footbridge at Williton.
Since learning of Chris's death, I have received a number of tributes to
him, and am including some of them here.
"He was one of those people, so rare nowadays, that appeared to not have
a jot of malice in him and with his passing there goes one of the
railway's pioneers at a time when such continuity is needed."
"Such a lovely man and so generous with his knowledge and passion for
the railway. I do hope there can be at least a plaque bearing his name
on the footbridge, he was such a driving force on the project that there
should be some way of commemorating him in relation to the bridge"
"Chris was a central player in the hard work which enabled the Railway
to re-open in 1976 and later became Administrative Director in those
early years. Latterly many will know Chris as Station Master at Williton
and through his work with the Steam Trust, especially on the Sleeping
Car. ..............The obvious memorials will be the Sleeping Car and
the Williton Footbridge but many will know that Chris's legacy is, in
fact, the entire Railway - and its community - which has prospered from
his tireless, gentle, energy. "
I myself will miss Chris enormously. I shall always think of him as a
good friend to me, always ready to listen and to give advice when
requested. And as a result I became very fond of him.
But I wanted to let Chris himself have the last word here. Below is the
very last e-mail which he sent to me and to others who were currently
closely involved with the heritage carriages project:
" We were fortunate with the Sleeping Car that it had been in the dry
for fifty years. I think coaches that have been in the open a lot - not
uncommon for railway coaches! - should be approached with suspicion.
3639 looked quite good in the old days at Minehead and was in use for
accomodation. I agree that it is an absolute must to examine what we
have very carefully. 5856 is sure to have hidden snags. The body work
MIGHT be as good as 6705. They have spent a similar time in the weather I
imagine. But we seem to have extremely useful pieces of interior worth,
I am sure,.many thousands. We would never have completed the Sleeping
Car without all the "spares" from 9039 at Didcot. We need very full
examination of all our coaches both on and off the WSR."
Wise words indeed, and I hope that all who knew Chris will continue to
carry on the work that he has left off, so that we can make this project
a success. It will be another fitting memorial to him.
Chris's funeral will be held at West Bagborough Parish Church, on
Thursday 16th of December at 2pm.
9 December 2010
As you can see, Chris made mention of Didcot in his last e-mail to me,
so it is fitting that I am now in a position to announce that we shall
be visiting Didcot railway centre on Sunday, February 20, 2011 and will
be given a guided tour of the centre. I have yet to finish negotiating a
visit to the coach in which I am particularly interested, namely TK
4553 the bow ended corridor coach destined eventually to come to the
West Somerset railway. People interested in joining us on this trip are
invited to contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org
9 December 2010
reports on 16 November 2010:
It is proposed to have a visit to Didcot Railway Centre on either the
19th or 20th of February, 2011, which is one of their steaming days,
where we will be given a guided tour of the centre, and will also have
the opportunity to have a look at the bow ended corridor coach TK 4553,
which will eventually come to the West Somerset Railway, in exchange for
TK 2578, currently at Minehead. Mike Dunse and I also intend to have a
look at the bow ended corridor coach BTK 5131, currently at Washford,
the reason being that as TK 4546, currently in Williton concrete works
yard, contains sufficient internal compartmentation to make the internal
restoration of TK 4553 or BTK 5131 rather more feasible than some of
the other coaches on the West Somerset railway, we wanted to have a look
at both the coach at Didcot and the coach at Washford to establish the
practicality of this. Would anyone who is interested in joining the
visit to Didcot, (which will definitely take place, as we already have
four people interested in going), please contact us at email@example.com,
costs will be £8 adult, £7.50 for 60+ and £7 for children, plus a
contribution to fuel costs, unless we opt to go by train, in which case
you would need to make your own arrangements to get there.
reports on 16 November 2010:
Work on TK 6705 is making good progress and that it is hoped to transfer
the coach to Somerset towards the end of February. Work that has been
carried out recently includes woodwork around the tanks being replaced
and ventilators reinstated. The gutters have been replaced but require
further work. All the windows have now been repaired but are awaiting
glazing, and a great deal of work has been done to the various metalwork
items, which now await painting with etching primer. The corridor
connections have been removed, and the underframe has been painted in
Inside the coach, the compartments have been stripped and panels removed
from the ceiling, some of these may be able to be reused but some will
require replacing. Stripping of paintwork has been particularly onerous
as a job, because it was inadvisable to use a blowtorch to remove the
paint due to fire risk, and hot air guns just caused the paint to turn
into a sticky gunge. Most of the picture frames have been refurbished,
and new ones made for the ones which were beyond repair. It is also
intended to carry out some of the internal electrical rewiring whilst
the coach is at Crewe.
Painting work to the exterior of the coach will have to wait due to the
cold weather, but some interior painting and varnish work can be carried
When the coach arrives at Williton, there will still be further work to
be carried out, these jobs include refurbishing the bogies, replacing
the corridor connections, replacing the draw gear, further work to the
electrical installation, and reupholstery."
The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust Heritage coaches display board
will be on display at Williton station on the Friday1st of October,
Saturday 2nd of October and Sunday 3rd of October of the Autumn Gala. On
this board will be found copies of the first two drawings prepared of
TK 5856, the full corridor third coach built to diagram C 67 lot 1527,
which it is proposed to be the next in line for restoration, once 6705,
currently at Crewe, has come to Somerset.
Additionally, I shall be at Williton on Friday 1st of October and
possibly on Sunday 3rd of October as well, and will be in the Williton
waiting-room for some of the time, working on one of the smaller
drawings, and will welcome people to come and interrupt me to talk about
the project or to ask questions. Additionally, I will be able to show
people around the coaches (outsides only at present), by request. On
Saturday, 2nd October Jennie Dunse will be fulfilling a similar role,
although she will not be working on any drawings.Claire Sheppy
25 September 2010
writes on 3 September 2010:
Jennie and Mike Dunse and I are planning on carrying out another session
measuring heritage coaches during the middle of September. Those
readers of this site who are also members of the West Somerset Railway
Association and who therefore receive the Journal may like to know that
there is an article within the latest journal concerning our experiences
However, this coach is not our main priority, that remains the drawing
of TK 5856, the coach, a photo of which appeared in the Spring edition
(Number 130 of the Journal), that has come from Tintern, with measuring
helped by its sister, TK 5929.
Of necessity, all of the actual measuring is done on site, in this case,
at Williton, but in fact I do much of the actual drawing at home, in my
conservatory, as the light is so good in it! I try to carry out a
certain amount of drawing (or calculation) at least once every day.
The accompanying photograph shows (on the drawing table) the drawing of
the corridor side structural members, steel panelling drawing, and plan,
whilst alongside it, in front of the four section folding ladder, is
its companion drawing dealing with the compartment side structural
members and steel panelling, and in the top left hand corner of the
drawing, the coach end bearers and external attachments drawing. It is
hoped to have copies of these two drawings on display at the Autumn
Gala. I shall then go on and produce detail drawings of the each
structural member, complete with joint details. After that will come the
drawings of the interior compartmentation members, then other items,
such as the water tanks, other fittings, wiring diagram,etc.
The drawing table came courtesy of John Griffin as a result of my appeal
in January 2009, to whom I extend my thanks for this donation.
Open at one of the pages of the next nearest coach to the one that I am
drawing, is my copy of the book on GWR coaches by John Lewis. These are
reproduced to modelling scales and it is quite difficult to read the
dimensions, hence the magnifying glass. But I have made contact with
John Lewis himself, who may be able to help with larger versions of
these drawings. However we are actually making good progress just by
measuring the full size coaches.
And somewhere in the pile of drawings is the embryo drawing of TK4546,
(in pencil at this stage,) following on from which, in due course, the
various detail drawings for the coach will be produced. This coach too
has a sister, (ie same lot number) currently at Didcot.
Doing the drawing itself is the comparatively easy bit, it is the
puzzling over all the dimensions, working out which ones are the correct
ones, and then making sure that they total to the stated length of the
coach. So in the top left hand corner, under the compasses, by the
inevitable calculator, is a page of reconciliation calculations, done to
the nearest one eighth of an inch, a large tolerance in engineering
terms, but not when working with wood. And as with the original GWR
drawings, all dimensions are taken and drawn in feet and inches.
Drawing progress on Coach no 5856. © Claire Sheppy
writes on 1 August 2010:
"On Saturday 24th July, at fairly short notice, as we were not intending
to do any more actual surveying until September, Jennie Dunse and I
reconvened at Williton to carry out a further measurement session on the
coaches. This time it was the bow ended corridor coach which was to
receive attention; that is TK 4546.
Having had a brief look at it on our previous visit on 27th June, and
having been told by Jennie's husband Mike that it had a fair amount of
internal partition work, I had in fact been quite excited by what I had
seen, deplorable condition or not, so I was really keen to get to grips
with measuring this coach, because so much of the way that it is
constructed is actually able to be seen.
It was certainly going to be a very interesting and productive session,
because after lunch Mike joined us, and having made good progress with
just two of us in the morning, we really started to make inroads into
the measurements, in fact I ended up coming back home with a set of
sketches and measurements which hopefully will enable me to prepare the
basic structural drawing of the structural timbers for both sides and
ends of the coaches, and all of the partition work, and in addition to
that we were able to measure up the seat bearers, and indeed even one of
the seats, and one of the water tanks.
A much fuller account of this particular coach and its recent history will hopefully be going to appear in the WSR journal.
I should also mention that Michael Bradley of the Swindon and Cricklade
Toplight Group has been in touch, and has provided me with a few
drawings, many thanks to him for this. Whilst I intend to re-draw many
of these I am always pleased to receive further drawings and
information; offers of spare parts are also gratefully received but
should be addressed to the project leader."
Some of the several doors of TK 4546. © Claire Sheppy
writes on 1 July 2010:
"On Sunday June 27th a start was made by Jennie and Mike Dunse and
myself on measuring all of the coaches that currently reside in the
former concrete works part of the Williton yard. At present there are
five of them, namely TK3631, a Toplight coach built to diagram C28, Lot
1136, (the same lot as TK 3639, the one currently in the Swindon shed,
which coach will probably have to come out of it to make way for
something else, such as Collett 6705, currently at Crewe); TK 3665, also
Diagram C28; TK4546, a Collett era bow-ended Corridor to diagram C54
lot 1352; and two Collett era Full Corridor Thirds built 1935, numbers
TK 5929 and TK 5986, both built to diagram dia C67 lot 1527. "
"Because coach TK 5986 (the coach that came from Tintern) is generally
considered to be in the best condition of the five, we concentrated
initially on this coach. However TK 5929 has had all of its internal
lining removed, which means that it has been possible to measure its
structural timbers. Theroretically this therefore provides all the
necessary information for the structural timbers for TK 5986. It would
be nice (In some ways!) if it were that simple, for we straight away
discovered that both coaches ( both of which have almost certainly been
in departmental use at some stage) have had alterations, in the shape of
double doors being substituted, and to make matters more interesting,
the one had double doors fitted on the corridor side and the other on
the compartment side. I therefore intend to draw the coaches as they
were originally designed and built, but also to show the variations, for
in these days of disabled access being desirable it is
just possible that the double doors on the one coach might be
"I said 'in some ways' because it is the variations that make the task
of measuring and then drawing the coaches all the more interesting.
Puzzling all this out can be likened to having several boxes of the same
jigsaw, where all of them have some pieces missing. But as it is not
possible to know exactly which pieces are actually missing, the only way
is to do each jigsaw until the picture is clearer, even with pieces
missing. In my case, this means drawing out each coach, using
information from measurements of other coaches as a guide to fill in the
gaps, until the picture (ie the drawing) is complete."
"At the end of the day, we then went into TK 4546. This coach is in a
deplorable state but even so it is capable of providing a lot of useful
information, for it is the only coach that I have seen so far (until
6705 comes south) that has any of its compartmentation remaining. It
also has its water tank which can be measured and drawn as a pattern for
"It is for this reason that it is absoluteluy essential that none of the
coaches are destroyed any more then they have been already, until every
last piece of information concerning them has been rescued."
"Jennie, Mike and I resolved to reconvene at the beginning of September
for another session, in the meantime I shall spend part of the rest of
the summer fathoming out and then using all the information that we
obtained on Sunday. "
"And finally, if anyone has any drawings already of any of the coaches
mentioned, (especially coach interiors) or indeed for any of the other
coaches for the intended WSR heritage fleet, then please send me copies
of them. I know that a lot of well intentioned people have suggested
going to various sources, indeed I have already written to them all, but
the bottom line is that I can actually measure and draw from our full
size examples here on the WSR quicker than I can acheive by spending
more time writing, (mostly in vain) for drawings from other sources."
Discussing sketch drawing of TK 5929 structural timbers. © Mike Dunse
Measuring the corridor side of TK 5856. © Mike Dunse
Measuring the roof structure of TK 5929. © Mike Dunse
Measuring the coach end of TK 5856. © Mike Dunse
A three coach rake of heritage carriages could be running on the
Minehead Branch by 2012. With Stage One (acquisition of candidate
carriages) completed, Stage Two of the West Somerset Steam Railway
Trust's Heritage Carriages Project is currently planned to be a rake of
three vehicles. The likely contenders would be GWR BCK no 6705
(currently under restoration at Crewe and due to be completed in 2010)
and two further carriages - probably TK no 5856 and another TK yet to be
identified. These could be restored fairly quickly and, assuming the
cash can be raised, could be completed by 2012. Thus the Railway could
have the Olympic Set running - named after another event taking
place the same year. It is estimated each TK would cost approx £125K to
restore to running order meaning only £250K needs to be raised to have a
three coach branch line set completed.
10 May 2010
The Heritage Carriage Project led by the West Somerset Steam Trust has
ambitious plans to restore a rake of GWR carriages.
Whilst 6705, brought
back from the USA, in currently under restoration at Crewe some of the
other coaches owned by the project are in store at various locations.
Five of these are currently stored at Williton.
Three have been standing in the car park of Williton Restorations since
delivery some fifteen months ago and as they were providing a serious
impediment it was important to move them to a more suitable location.
area of land was cleared and lightly ballasted late last Autumn and the
coach recovered from Tintern was the first to be positioned on this
area before wet weather made it too soft to move any others.
The recent dry spell has hardened the ground and allowed the move to be
carried out. This weekend two of the carriages have been re-located from
the car park onto sections of rail laid directly on the ground. The
team used a JCB to tow the carriages across the Tarmac until the reached
the ballast edge. The front bogie was steered by the direction of the
JCB and the trailing one using a winch to apply a sideways pull as
Once close to the ballast pairs of short rails were laid on their side
and the wheel flanges run into the web. As the carriages moved forward
rails were lifted from behind and run around to the front in a scene
reminiscent of a cartoon scene!
Sadly time intervened and the third coach remains in the car park for he
moment although its track awaits and it will join the others in a few
short weeks once the team have regained their strength.
Moving these coaches will allow the HCP to begin to properly assess and
start preparation and conservation on these historic vehicles. If you
would like to get involved with this project please contact Ian Colby
c/o The WSSRT, Williton Station.
9 May 2010