Monkwearmouth Station Museum brings historic rolling stock inside for restoration

By Richard Moss | 11 November 2010
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a photo of a man standing in the open cabin of a railway guard's van
Martin Routledge, Keeper of History at Sunderland Museums, on the Brake Van as it gets rolled into The Shed at Monkwearmouth Station Museum© Sunderland Museums
Two historic railway wagons have “come in from the cold” at Monkwearmouth Station Museum in Sunderland, where they are being carefully conserved and restored to their former glory.

The goods brake van, dating from 1915, and the covered carriage truck, built in 1939, had been standing in the museum’s sidings area, which is also being redesigned to make it accessible to the public.

They will now both be restored by the museum’s expert team of conservators in The Shed, a steel frame construction with glass and wood panels for the walls which allows the public to see the restoration in action. 

a photo of a man in reflective jacket and hard hat using a pulley to pull a railway wagon into a shed
Museum staff rolling the wagons into The Shed© Sunderland Museums
Built by the London North Eastern Railway at its York works, the covered carriage truck is a wooden-bodied, steel-framed vehicle with large doors at its end. Designed to carry motorcars, it was also used to carry parcels and even elephants when the circus came to town in the 1950s. 

The 1915 brake van was also built by LNER and is typical of the primitive wagons used at the rear of trains until the 1960s. They were essential to help the driver keep control and enable the guard to stop the rear section safely if the train broke apart.

Monkwearmouth’s brake van was later dedicated to coal train duties between Wearmouth and Hylton Collieries before becoming a workmen’s hut.

“We hope that visitors will enjoy being able to see the conservation work on the wagons – some of the processes involved will be quite intricate, so it’s great that we will be able to let people see that work in progress,” said Sunderland Museums Keeper of History Martin Routledge.

The Shed formally opens its doors to let the public inside in autumn 2011, and Routledge said it would feature new interpretation “allowing visitors to find out about the history of the wagons and the work they did - stories we’ve never had the scope to be able to tell before.”

The stock restoration is expected to take 11 months to complete. 
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