At a glance:
Builder: Ashbury Carriage & Iron Company (Openshaw Works, Manchester)
Build date: 1902
Original company: Great Southern & Western Railway
Withdrawal date: 1985
Final company: Córas Iompair Éireann
Arrived at DCDR: 1986
Current status: Museum display
Current owner: DCDR

Built in 1902 as an open third, 836 was built by the Ashbury Carriage & Iron Company for the Great Southern & Western Railway for use on their Dublin – Cork express trains. It is one of 44 carriages built to the same design, and passed into Great Southern Railway ownership in 1924, and again into CIÉ’s in 1945.

CIÉ withdrew 836 in 1963 to enable its conversion into a mobile Signalling and Track Workshop, with the new number of 463A, the following year. Too old for passenger use, but in too condition to scrap, it was used as a dormitory coach in the signalling train, in the signalling train. This train travelled the network for major signalling and pointwork jobs, and consisted of the two GSWR coaches for accommodation and ‘H vans’ for tools. When not in use, 836 was stationed at Mullingar.

Following withdrawal in the 1980s, 836 was moved to Inchicore where it was inspected by our founder Gerry Cochrane in 1986 whilst on a shopping spree for a very young DCDR. The opportunity to acquire a vintage carriage with, crucially, all its own running gear, was too good to pass up and accordingly 836 was moved to Mullingar for onward transport to Downpatrick in August that year. 

836’s overhaul was the first full carriage restoration carried out by DCDR. Launched in June 1999 by DCDR founding member Bill Gillespie and the late hotelier William Hastings, it came runner-up in the national Heritage Railway Association Carriage and Wagon award. It was used on passenger services almost continuously until 2014, save for a repaint in 2009.

Re-panelling work, roof repair and another repaint were carried out from 2014 to 2017, though it briefly escaped the workshops during the festive season in 2016 to provide extra passenger accommodation for our Christmas trains. It officially returned to service in November 2017, and in January 2018 it was moved into the Carriage Gallery for permanent display.

Today 836, along with BCDR carriages 148 and 72, make up the ‘vintage rake’. As our oldest and finest carriages, they are perhaps the shiniest jewels in our crown and take centre stage in the Carriage Gallery. Though they aren’t for everyday use, they are all certified for operational passenger duties and make appearances on special public events and private-hire charters. They are also highly sought-after for filming contracts.

With its gorgeous brown and cream livery and early 20th Century charm, 836 is a favourite of many DCDR volunteers and passengers alike. It might be the oldest carriage in passenger service in Ireland, but we think it’s looking pretty good for its age – don’t you?