Couple restoring 19th century rail carriage into dream holiday home
- 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.
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.
“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 couple have a lot of experience in managing refurbishment projects, having restored several centuries-old cottages and farmhouses with traditional techniques.
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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.
“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.
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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, who live near Swaffham, hope to install a bed, kitchen, dining area and a snug with a sofa and wood-burner.
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.