The Yorkshire Wolds Railway took delivery of the first item of rolling stock at its Sledmere and Fimber site on Wednesday.
The coach, built in 1957, is to be restored and will form the basis of the railway’s planned Visitor Centre near Sledmere.
The YWR hopes to open the Visitor Centre to the public during 2013.
The coach is a British Railways Mark I Brake Gangway (BG) coach. This design of coach was used as a guard van and luggage store, and consists of large internal spaces rather than seating compartments, which makes it ideal for use as the YWR Visitor Centre.
It is about 18 metres or 60 feet long and weighs 32 tonnes. The coach had been owned privately and based at the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway.
The purchase was funded out of existing YWR reserves and by generous loans and donations from YWR members.
Planning permission for the YWR Visitor Centre was granted in May 2012, and work began later that year.
Surface vegetation and soil has been removed, chalk has been spread to form initial track beds, and two track panels have been laid where the coach will be located.
The Visitor Centre will feature archive documents and objects from the railway, which closed in 1958, along with exhibitions about the line’s history, the memories of those who worked and travelled on the line, and the YWR’s own plans for the future.
A platform will be built to enable public access. The coach will also initially provide storage facilities for the YWR’s site works, but it is hoped that future purchases of rolling stock will allow the Visitor Centre to be expanded. The Visitor Centre will also be the base for the future reinstatement of part of the line as an operational heritage railway.
YWR Chairman, James Russell, said: “2012 was a busy and exciting year for us, but 2013 is going to be even better. The delivery of this coach means there is rolling stock on this part of the line for the first time since 1958. Having something on site that people can see with their own eyes is hugely important in increasing our visibility and our ability to generate income and attract funding, which in turn is vital for our plans to run trains on the line for the first time in over fifty years.”
Plans are in place to lay further track and acquire more rolling stock during 2013, and it is hoped that the Visitor Centre will be open to the public before the end of the year. Longer term plans involve reinstating an operational railway from the Visitor Centre site towards Wetwang, with planning permission having already been granted for just under a mile of track.
The YWR is always keen to involve new people in making these plans become a reality, and anyone interested in becoming a member, volunteering, making a donation or just finding out more should visit the YWR website at www.yorkshirewoldsrailway.org.uk or call 01377 338053. An Open Meeting is scheduled to take place in Malton in February, at which members of the public will be able to hear more about the history of the line and plans for the future. More details of this will be announced nearer the time.