Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway, composite 1st & 2nd class railway carriage
Railway carriage, four wheeled, composite (1st & 2nd Class), Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway, Prussian blue and cream livery, built in 1834. Length over buffers: 16' 2"
The exact date of this railway carriage is uncertain, but it is certainly one of the earliest passenger vehicles preserved in the UK. The underframe probably dates from the 1830s but the body is believed to be of later construction.
It is a ‘composite’ carriage with both first- and second-class accommodation.
The carriages used on the Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway survived over the years largely because of the isolation of the railway from its parent London & South Western system. The carriages are much less advanced than other passenger carriages in the National Collection. This composite coach has ‘dumb’ buffers without springs which would have little shock-absorbing value. The coach body is extremely small, even by contemporary standards, and framed in oak and panelled in pine. The carriage has an upholstered first-class compartment flanked by two wooden-seated second class ones. Originally, this coach was first class only, which accounts for the quarter-lights flanking the doors in all three compartments. The normal second-class arrangement was with a window in the door only.
The Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway had opened in 1834, principally to carry sand which was used as fertiliser. It was acquired by the London & South Western Railway in 1847. The railway would have been used for people going to witness executions at Bodmin Jail, where hangings continued in public view until 1862.