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RPSI wins HRA award

Most of the restoration team with their plaque


The Heritage Railway Association, the body representing railway preservation societies  in the UK and Ireland, has given its biannual Wagon award to the RPSI for the restoration of brake van No.81.

The judges were impressed with the quality of the restoration work as well as the extensive use of young volunteers, and the rarity of 5'3" gauge goods vehicles.

The award was presented by HRA President Dame Margaret Weston in a ceremony at the National Railway Museum, York.  Thanking the HRA, Mark Walsh noted that the project had resulted in the recruitment of several new young volunteers now engaged in the maintenance and operation of main line trains.

Restoration of the decayed and fire-damaged van took two years (click for larger images)

The RPSI is no stranger to HRA awards. 

In 2006 the society was ‘highly commended’ for our part in the Bleach Green – Whitehead track relay.  Steam locomotive RH Smyth, with volunteer crews, pulled ballast trains for the contract.

In 2004 it was awarded the John Coiley Award for Locomotive Preservation for the restoration of No.186.

 In 2000, we were awarded the ‘Supreme Champion’ prize in the Carriage and Wagon competition for the restoration of President’s Coach No.351.

Back in 1983 the RPSI won the ultimate accolade – the Annual Award – for ‘highly successful operation…of steam excursions’ and the restoration of locomotive No.4, dining car 87 and coaches 91 and 1142 (which has recently been overhauled again).

The brake van may be seen and ridden in on Whitehead open days in the Summer

Brake van restoration team member Edward Friel said, "It’s great to add to the RPSI’s impressive crop of awards.  When we started this project in 2006 we certainly didn’t expect that it would end with us all gathered in the NRM collecting this plaque, and to be recognised at the same ceremony as the A1 Tornado makes the honour greater still.

"Of course the RPSI exists to run main line trains, and 81 will never be a part of that, but as an accredited museum we also have a responsibility to educate the public.  The brake van project has been a great way of doing that, because the story of goods trains in Ireland really wasn't something we were able to illustrate before.

"It's been very popular on open days, people are curious to find out what this thing is for - a lot of people have no idea that goods trains ever existed!"

Displays in the van help to convey the history of goods trains, which have disappeared from many parts of the network

"All in all, I think it's been a very successful project for the RPSI, and we'd like to thank all those who helped, particularly the very generous donor who gave us the money to get started, and the Northern Ireland Museums Council who then provided the bulk of the funding."

Keeping Steam alive in Ireland since 1964

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