Norfolk railway appeal to recreate days of post-war commuting

North Norfolk Railway (NNR) has launched a �200,000 appeal to restore rare train carriages which help tell and preserve the history of suburban commuting.

Enthusiasts hope to start work this year on renovating four former 1950s King's Cross mark 1 suburban coaches, which carried London commuters until the 1970s.

The carriages will complement the railway's quad articulated set, which underwent a four-year �500,000 restoration completed in 2008, according to Clive Morris, NNR deputy chairman and appeal co-ordinator.

The steel suburban coaches succeeded the wooden-bodied quad carriages, which date from 1924. Both ferried workers between King's Cross and Moorgate, and stations such as Hitchin and Hertford.

Their restoration would give passengers on the 10.5-mile NNR, which operates between Sheringham and Holt, the chance to experience suburban train travel as it was both before and after the second world war, said Mr Morris, who remembers them from his own commuting days between 1967 and 1971 when he travelled into and out of King's Cross from his home in Potters Bar.

The coaches, designed with less leg room in order to pack-in commuters, would prove very useful in transporting large numbers of NNR passengers during particularly popular events, such as the railway's annual 1940s weekend and steam galas, Mr Morris added.

NNR and its supporting charity, the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway Society, own six King's Cross suburban coaches, which are among only 19 remaining in the country.

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It hopes to restore four: a goods van with seating, a second-class only carriage, a carriage with toilets containing first-class compartments, and a second-class carriage with a toilet, which is the NNR's most recent addition.

Given to the railway last year by Derby City Museum, it was in the worst condition of the four and was one of only three of its kind left in existence, according to Mr Morris.

As well as donations, NNR would be applying for Heritage Lottery funding to raise the cash, he said. The work is likely to be carried out in the railway's Weybourne workshops.

The 'Suburban 4' appeal is backed by the National Railway Museum at York, and the Heritage Railway Association. For more information ring 01263 820800.