Updated: Feb 26, 2021
A TRAIN carriage that was once used to transport circus elephants is to be transformed into a Victorian-style dining area for Padgate's Plaice Station.
Darren Sudlow, who has run the fish and chip shop in the former station master's house at Padgate Station for 14 years, has always wanted to create more of a traditional railway experience around his chippy. The former Woolston High School student has been growing the business since 2007 and now the £70,000 'bucket list' project is finally underway.
Darren bought the 1938 Ashford/Eastleigh carriage from Heritage Railways in Llangollen and soon heavy goods vehicles and cranes were on site to lay a section of track and carefully place the carriage on top of it. The track took around two hours to put in place while the carriage waited on a flatbed truck at Lymm Services.
Renovations will now be ongoing with a view to opening in summer – by which time restrictions should have hopefully relaxed.
Darren, 51, said: "It was a very busy day – a little bit stressful but a massive success. It was fantastic. I don’t think any of us had experienced anything like that. It was a cracking day. It’s been on my bucket list for 14 years. I’m still on a bit of a high from it to be honest with you. It’s a joint effort between family and friends and the company who were putting the carriage on for me and it all fell into place on my birthday – so it was a nice birthday present."
The carriage has been christened Nellie as a nod to its past and Darren is hoping to create a display board detailing its history. His project also had to be given the seal of approval by Heritage Railways.
Darren added: "I didn’t know if it was still for sale or where it was, but we tracked it down and it was in Llangollen. We only viewed it two weeks ago and everything has been quickly organised since then. It’s gone very smoothly. Heritage Railways are passionate about keeping the history of the railways alive so before they would sell me the carriage, I had to convince a committee it’s being used for the right purpose and it isn’t just going to be left to rot."