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National Railway Museum Opens New Attraction in York


8:00am 3rd May 2014

The National Railway Museum has completed works on the Pullman carriage, Topaz, which sees it open to the public from this weekend.

Topaz, which is situated in the Great Hall, will be open to visitors from this weekend and will feature an explainer giving a detailed description of what it would have been like to travel in this carriage. Work on the carriage has taken around six months and has seen protective layers on the carpets installed. In addition a protective layer is being placed on the original floors - manufactured by a specialist conservation floor company.

The carriage was built at Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Works Co. Ltd., Smethwick in 1913 and entered service with South Eastern & Chatham Railway in 1914. It ran on services between London and the South Coast, on pre-war continental boat trains and the Bournemouth Belle.  The carriage was withdrawn in 1960 and restored by the Pullman Car Company. During this restoration Topaz’s livery was reverted from umber and cream back to its original pre1920s crimson. The carriage was then presented to the British Transport Commission at the Clapham Museum of British Transport in 1961. 

It ran in the Travellers-Fare Centenary Express in 1979 which marked the 100th anniversary of on-train catering and the Rainhill Rocket Cavalcade in 1980.. It was presented to the National Railway Museum in 1976 by businessman and railway enthusiast Henry Maxwell, having formerly been on display at Clapham (now amalgamated into the London Transport Museum).

Amy Banks, Interpretation Developer at the National Railway Museum, who worked on getting the carriage ready for the public said: “It has been a labour of love to get Topaz ready but we are now looking forward to welcoming our visitors on board to experience the heyday of luxury rail travel.

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