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Initial work...Jonathan Holmes Welsh has already cleaned a large part of the carriage's interior. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

The huge task of restoring a dilapidated old railways buffet carriage is not daunting Jonathan Holmes Welsh.

The 19-year-old rail enthusiast bought the 80-year-old carriage for $1400 and had it trucked to Timaru last week .

“I bought the carriage from one of the workers at Dunedin Railways.

“It’s hard to get the history of it but I know the carriage was used on the Dunedin-Christchurch line by the railways and went out of service in 1999.”

New home…Contemplating the start of restoring the carriage. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

After its New Zealand Railways service, the 17m-long carriage was sold to a group of Feilding rail enthusiasts, then was acquired by the Dunedin Railways employee. For the past 10 years the carriage has sat in the Dunedin rail yards covered in tarpaulins.

Mr Holmes Welsh, a volunteer at the Pleasant Point Museum and Railway since the age of 16, had been on the lookout to buy a carriage and had been trawling Trade Me to find one.

At first he missed out on buying the carriage but after a sale fell through, he was offered it and gladly accepted.

Shifting the carriage from Dunedin to Timaru was a nerve-racking experience, Mr Holmes Welsh said.

Tricky job…lifting the carriage into place. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Two crane companies and a truck company had to be employed for the task.

After starting at 8am last Thursday, by 10am the carriage had been safely lifted, placed on a truck and was heading for Timaru.

“I was worried it might hit something on the way up but it went OK.”

On the road…A relieved Jonathan Holmes Welsh as the carriage reaches Timaru. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

The carriage has been moved to a Timaru location Mr Holmes Welsh did not want to disclose.

One of the hardest tasks he expected in restoring the carriage would be to find wheels as well as much of the kitchen equipment, he said.

However, at this stage just getting the carriage to Timaru has delighted Mr Holmes Welsh. He would fit restoring it around his job at Silver Fern Farms in Pareora, he said.

Completing the project would take “quite a while – five to six years”.