Everything about the Wisbech & Upwell Tramway was unusual and its coaches were certainly no exception. Six four-wheel coaches were initially used but, in 1884, the year that the line opened to Upwell, two bogie coaches were delivered.
These two vehicles were some of the most unusual – or eye-catching depending on your point of view – coaches used in Britain. They were built by the Great Eastern Railway under order A17. Composite No. 7 was built to Diagram 602 and Second No. 8 to Dia. 603.
Both vehicles were outwardly similar to look at. They were both just over 37ft long (over buffers) and had a maximum height of 10ft 2in – rather squat by railway standards. No. 7 could hold ten First Class passengers and 22 Second, whilst No. 8 had a total capacity of 34 Second (later Third) Class passengers. However, details like body panelling and roof layout were unique to each vehicle.
They remained almost unchanged physically during their working life with the exception of modified footsteps . After passenger services on the W&U ceased on December 31st 1927, both vehicles were transferred to the Kelvedon and Tollesbury Light Railway in Essex where they worked until that line closed in 1951. They retained their unusual longitudinal seating until the end.
Stardom them beckoned for No. 8. It starred in the Ealing comedy The Titfield Thunderbolt – complete with bar! It was earmarked for preservation by the British Transport Commission and was even restored into GER livery. Sadly, due to a misunderstanding, it was scrapped on March 9th 1957.
No. 7 was sold and its body became an onion store before being rescued for preservation. Acquired by the M&GN Society in 2002, it has been fully restored -complete with a Titfield-style bar.
As with all Rapido models these models feature a high level of detail on the outside, underside and inside including different roofs, interiors, end steps, handbrakes and other detail fittings as seen on each carriage at different times throughout its working life. All interiors will be fully visible with a removable roof. Coaches are available individually in LNER and BR liveries as well as No. 8 as it is today.
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