The restoration of a glamorous railway carriage with a connection to the Titanic is nearing completion. Passengers may choose to ride on this coach already as it is running on the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway. The small supplements they pay go towards finishing the fine interior of this 1913-built special saloon.
J Bruce Ismay was chairman of White Star Lines who commissioned the Titanic. He sailed on the maiden voyage and survived the tragedy. However, he had to live with the opinion of that period that, as owner and a male, it would have been more honourable to go down with the ship.
Ismay was also a director of the London and North Western Railway Company and it is recorded that his fellow railway directors showed him sympathy and compassion following the disaster. As a director he would have travelled many times on the splendid twelve-wheel directors’ saloon. It is this coach that is taking pride of place on Embsay’s steam trains.
The restoration has taken place over six years by Harrogate man Stephen Middleton, proprietor of Stately Trains. The coach is one of ten in the collection of pre-1920 carriages, ranging from Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee coach, to the oldest Pullman car on wheels and three directors’ saloons. Several have been featured in film, television and even stage plays.
Stately Trains marks twenty years of vintage carriage restoration with directors’ saloons on timetabled trains from Embsay to Bolton Abbey and ‘Strawberry Specials’ on July Saturday evenings. One directors’ saloon is running on the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway in South Wales.