Couple restoring 19th century rail carriage into dream holiday home

Stuart Oetzmann and Sarah Pattison, pictured with their children.

Stuart Oetzmann (51) and Sarah Pattison (42), pictured in the railway carriage with their children. Left to right: Georgia (6), Eliza (4) and Hugo (2). - Credit: Neil Didsbury

A Norfolk couple have taken on the task of restoring a 19th-century railway carriage to its former glory - and hope that it will soon serve as a self-catering holiday home. 

The railway carriage, currently undergoing restoration work.

The railway carriage, currently undergoing restoration work. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

Stuart Oetzmann, 51, and Sarah Pattison, 42, found the carriage online when looking for a quirky new addition to their portfolio of holiday cottages across Norfolk and Suffolk.

Mr Oetzmann said that the 1887 carriage, formerly of the Great Eastern Railway, had an “absolutely phenomenal” build quality, and explained that the use of Burmese teak wood had preserved its structural integrity.

The carriage's wood

Mr Oetzmann said that the carriage's structure had been preserved thanks to the use of Burmese teak by its creators. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

“We looked at the frame and it was crisp as the day it was put in - there was no rot on it,” said Mr Oetzmann.

The carriage wood

Mr Oetzmann said that the carriage's structure had been preserved thanks to the use of Burmese teak by its creators. - Credit: Sarah Pattison

The couple have a lot of experience in managing refurbishment projects, having restored several centuries-old cottages and farmhouses with traditional techniques.

Stuart Oetzmann at work in the railway carriage.

Stuart Oetzmann at work in the railway carriage. - Credit: Neil Didsbury


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“We’ve been renovating properties since 2014, and we’ve built up a group of people that we know and trust who have the requisite skills,” said Mr Oetzmann, who added that he saw “so much potential” in the carriage. 

The wood of the railway carriage

Mr Oetzmann said that the carriage's structure had been preserved thanks to the use of Burmese teak by its creators. - Credit: Sarah Pattison

“Whilst it [the carriage] is perhaps a deviation from classic or traditional properties, we have the necessary skills on board because of what we’ve been doing [with the cottages]”, he said.

Sarah Pattison at work by the railway carriage.

Sarah Pattison at work by the railway carriage. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

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 The carriage originally contained a large luggage space, and two first-class compartments. 

“We’re converting the inside into a kind of glamping wagon. We will roughly correspond to where the divisions [between compartments] have been, but it’s got to work. If we restore it exactly as it was, then we’ve got a carriage, and that is it: it needs to be liveable,” said Mr Oetzmann.

The couple's children - left to right: Georgia (6), Eliza (4), and Hugo (2), enjoying the railway carriage. 

The couple's children - left to right: Georgia (6), Eliza (4), and Hugo (2), enjoying the railway carriage. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

The couple, who live near Swaffham, hope to install a bed, kitchen, dining area and a snug with a sofa and wood-burner. 

The railway carriage, currently undergoing restoration work.

The railway carriage, currently undergoing restoration work. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

With five or six weeks of work still to be completed on the carriage, their hope is to have the carriage available to rent in time for the summer holiday season, when they anticipate a higher-than-average number of people choosing to holiday in the UK. 

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