Suffolk couple turn restored Victorian railway carriage into holiday let


The golden age of steam lives on – in a bucolic corner of the Suffolk countryside.

There you can stay aboard a beautifully restored 19th-century railway carriage that has been fitted out with bunk beds, a double bed, a living room with a wood-burning stove and a bathroom with a roll-top bath.

The Victorian carriage sits on Coppins Farm near Bures and also comes with mesmerising veranda views of wildflower meadows and ancient woodland.

The carriage dates back to 1885 and took two years to renovate into a holiday let. It now takes pride of place on Coppins Farm in the heart of the Suffolk countryside

Today, the interior of the beautifully restored 19th-century carriage features bunk beds, a double bed, a living room with a wood-burning stove (pictured) and a bathroom with a roll-top bath

Today, the interior of the beautifully restored 19th-century carriage features bunk beds, a double bed, a living room with a wood-burning stove (pictured) and a bathroom with a roll-top bath

Sharron and John McGlashan, who run the farm, explained to MailOnline Travel that the carriage dates back to 1885. 

‘It started out life as a second-class carriage,’ said Sharron. ‘Later in its life it went back to the carriage factory where it was split down the middle, made a foot wider and the open carriage became four first-class class compartments.’

According to the McGlashans, the carriage was retired in 1918, when it was bought privately and placed at Kesgrave, a small village near Ipswich, where it became a small dwelling. 

Later on, a bungalow was built around the carriage. In 1984 the bungalow was demolished and the still-intact carriage was sold to a renovator who intended it to be displayed in a heritage centre.  

'We have lots of comments about the cast iron bath,' owner Sharron told MailOnline Travel

‘We have lots of comments about the cast iron bath,’ owner Sharron told MailOnline Travel

The Victorian carriage comes with mesmerising veranda views of wildflower meadows and ancient woodland. Badgers are known to come right up to this terrace at night

The Victorian carriage comes with mesmerising veranda views of wildflower meadows and ancient woodland. Badgers are known to come right up to this terrace at night

The McGlashans sourced certain materials 'sympathetically', referenced old photographs and visited York Railway Museum in order to replicate the original look of the carriage

The McGlashans sourced certain materials ‘sympathetically’, referenced old photographs and visited York Railway Museum in order to replicate the original look of the carriage

‘It didn’t happen,’ explained Sharron. ‘And in 2008 we brought it back to the farm and completed the renovation.’

Taking place in a workshop on the farm, the renovation work took two years, with original features such as the drop-down windows and their leather straps retained.

The McGlashans also sourced certain materials ‘sympathetically’, referenced old photographs and visited York Railway Museum in order to replicate the carriage’s original look, for example its padded button panels, ceiling decor and handles.  

In some areas of the renovation, a certain degree of creativity had to be used.

Sharron revealed: ‘Really alert visitors to the carriage will notice that the ceiling light shades are in fact glass mixing bowls. And why not? 

‘Similarly, a creative stroke of genius is the ceiling light shades in our other railway carriage, which is currently used as a natural history museum for our visitors. They are made from recycled washing machine doors. 

The carriage started out life as a second-class carriage. It was later split down the middle, made a foot wider and the open carriage became four first-class class compartments

The carriage started out life as a second-class carriage. It was later split down the middle, made a foot wider and the open carriage became four first-class class compartments

Sharron McGlashan said the veranda (pictured) is the perfect place for guests to settle down with their favourite tipple and 'sit back and escape'

Sharron McGlashan said the veranda (pictured) is the perfect place for guests to settle down with their favourite tipple and ‘sit back and escape’

The carriage was renovated in a workshop on the farm

The carriage was renovated in a workshop on the farm

‘It probably goes without saying that we sourced a lot of the furniture from eBay and this really adds to the charm.’

Despite hailing from the golden age of steam, the carriage as it is today is designed to help visitors enjoy the simpler things rather than live the high life.  

‘There’s no glitz here,’ John said. ‘Countryside, walking, simple pleasures.’ 

The couple count the year-round views from the covered veranda as the carriage’s best feature.

Sharron said:  ‘A couple of old sofas out on the deck, your favourite tipple and sit back and escape. We have 150 acres of wildflower meadows and ancient woodland here at the farm and whether visitors are gazing at them or rambling through them, the experience is transforming.’  

The bathroom is another talking point. 

‘We have lots of comments about the cast iron bath,’ said Sharron.

Then there’s the wildlife encounters visitors can have when they stay at the carriage. 

‘The badger visits, right up onto the veranda, at night, are a must,’ Sharron said. ‘Keeping the children awake and quiet is the biggest challenge to badger watching. The wildlife around on the conservation farm is a big draw and visitors report their “spottings” in our wildlife book.’

Coppins Farm is also home to other unusual accommodation options. Visitors can sleep in one of two fairground wagons and a second-class Victorian railway carriage that dates back to the 1880s. 

For more information on the carriage visit www.coppinsfarm.co.uk/victorian-railway-carriage. 



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