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Burned-out carriage is back to its best
A railway carriage torched by vandals has been rest-ored to its former glory.
The 106-year-old coach was set on fire in December 1996 as it stood in a siding at Keighley & Worth Valley station.
Over the last four years, it has been painstaking restored by its owners, The Vintage Carriages Trust, at Ingrow, Keighley.
The organisation, which has a museum of carriages, won £24,000 from the Heritage Lottery to help fund the project. The restoration has been so authentic that gold leaf has been used on the blue and gold Great Northern Railway motif on the carriage's side.
The Great Northern line ran the now defunct Bradford to Queensbury route which is now being transformed into a cycleway.
The teak-bodied carriage has two first-class compartments - one for smokers and the other for non-smokers - and two toilets. There are two third-class compartments and a brake van for the guard and luggage.
The fire caused extensive damage but the carriage was saved from destruction by firefighters from Keighley. It is believed to have started in the guard's van area.
Jackie Cope, of the VCT, said: "The restoration is beautiful. People who have seen it have been astounded.
"It is unique and a credit to the craftsmen and volunteers who have worked on it, especially Robin Bannier."
When paint was removed from the ceiling, a beautiful blue motif was exposed which they were able to recreate.
And they were able to ensure more authenticity by examining and removing articles, like door handles, from a similar carriage which had been used as a home and later a garden shed in the Midlands.
VCT press officer Paul Holroyd said: "It is a fascinating part of our social history with a tremendous contrast between the relatively spartan third-class compartments - without access to a toilet - and the opulent luxury of the two first-class compartments."
Even before the project was finished the coach was used on a number of film assignments, including the BBC's production of The Hound of the Baskervilles.
The carriage, which was constructed in 1898 and is likely to have run between London Kings Cross and Yorkshire, will be used occasionally on the five-mile Keighley & Worth Valley line.
Heritage Lottery officials have inspected the finished restoration and met volunteers. And members of other heritage railways from throughout the UK and Ireland have viewed the vehicle and rode in it along the Worth Valley.
It can be seen at the VCT museum at Ingrow, which is open between 11am and 4.30pm, except Christmas Day. For details, call (01535) 680425.