Northern Ireland news

Team behind transformation of Co Down railway carriage wins award

A Holywood Railmotor carriage was transformed by a team of enthusiasts

THE transformation of an old steam train carriage once used in Co Down has been celebrated at a prestigious railway awards event.

The Holywood Railmotor was withdrawn from use in the 1950s and feared lost. But in 1985, railway enthusiasts discovered it had been cut in half and was being used as a granny flat in Gilford.

Volunteers from Downpatrick and County Down Railway (DCDR) began to work on the carriage and restored it to full operational condition - exactly as it would have appeared when built in 1905.

The transformation was celebrated at the Heritage Railway Association's awards in Birmingham on Saturday. The association represents dozens of preserved railways, groups and museums from across the UK and Ireland.

Music guru Peter Waterman presented the award to DCDR chairman Robert Gardiner, who was one of the dedicated carriage team responsible for the transformation.

"I was absolutely humbled to have accepted this award on behalf of the restoration team," said Mr Gardiner.

"When I saw the other two short-listed nominees I realised we were up against some serious competition, but having been involved in the restoration work from the start I knew we had something special.

"That said it was still a shock when our name was read out."

Matthew Wilson, a tour guide from Whitehead Railway Museum, also became the first ever winner of the Young Volunteer of the Year award.

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