Hearse van

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Hearse Van at Gelert's Farm, 2006

Thought to be a conversion of a Mk.2 Quarrymen's Carriage in 1885-6, with inside bearings and double end doors. However, construction is somewhat different to other Mk2s but evidence of passenger doors is very much in evidence. Sombre dignity was added by painting it black while it was also graced by the addition of a cast iron Grecian funeral urn at each corner of the roof. Hearse vehicles were not uncommon on a variety of railways in Victorian times and in the case of the workplace death of a quarryman who resided in the Penrhyndeudraeth or Portmadoc areas, rail transport of the corpse from Blaenau Ffestiniog would be a necessity.

Its last known use, pre-restoration, was in July 1946, about two weeks before the closure of the railway. Princess, driven by Tom Davies took the body of a Mr Evans from Rhoslyn Cottage at Dduallt by hearse to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

The hearse van survived to preservation times and was finally restored to running order in 1991 to carry the ashes of Maggie Warner, a much loved volunteer. Since then it has been used only once when it carried the ashes of Michael Seymour in 1999. It is not suitable for use on the line without special arrangements being made and as a result is not available except under exceptional circumstances.[1]

It was located, within the WHHR museum, at Gelert's Farm Works in Porthmadog for a while. In 2017 it returned to Boston Lodge for some TLC, with potential for a restoration to a condition suitable for running on the FR mainline. It was planned that this work would include the fitting a through vacuum pipe[2], however this had not been done when the vehicle made an appearance on the FR mainline during the 2017 Victorian weekend. It spent the weekend as part of one of the heritage freight trains and on the Saturday was used to carry the ashes of a late volunteer to the memorial garden at Tan y Bwlch.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Festiniog Railway Heritage Group Journal, Issue 030, page(s): 022
  2. ^ Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 238, page(s): 727